Do I need a Dissolution or a Divorce?

You have exhausted all options and are now just exhausted. It’s time to call it quits. Now what? Do you file for a divorce or do you petition the court for a dissolution of marriage? What is the difference? Can I choose? Is one a better option than the other? You just want this over with.

In Ohio, a marriage can be terminated by either procedure. If both of parties 1) agree that the marriage should be terminated, 2) have decided on how to divide the marital property and marital debt, 3) agree to the parenting arrangement and the support of minor children, and 4) are willing to sign all the necessary documents and attend a court hearing; then the marriage can be terminated by filing a Petition of Dissolution. See ORC 3105.63. Both parties are referred to as “Petitioners”

If there is any dispute on any of these issues or if either party does not want to terminate the marriage, then Court will not grant a Dissolution of Marriage. In that case, the party wanting to terminate the marriage must file a Complaint for Divorce. A Complaint for Divorce is similar to other lawsuits in that you are “suing” your spouse for a termination of marriage and asking for a legal remedy. See ORC 3105.17. The party filing the Complaint is known as the ‘Plaintiff” and the person who is being served with the Complaint is referred to as the “Defendant”.

There are advantages and disadvantages of each procedure. Emotions run high during a marital breakup, and it is difficult for the parties to deal with each other rationally enough to move through a dissolution of marriage without some help. But if the parties can work through the issues to be decided, the Dissolution of Marriage is a much quicker procedure in which to terminate the marriage. A final hearing can be set between thirty to forty days from the filing of the Petition. Ohio law requires that the final hearing take place within ninety days of the filing of the petition. ORC 3105.64.

But what if you want your spouse out of the house and he refuses to leave. Or the two of you have been separated for some time and you can’t get her to help you financially in paying for the kids’ clothes, school supplies, food and/or school fees. Heck you can’t even get her to pick the kids up at the same time on those rare Fridays she is willing to see them. What then? And the mortgage payment is due Tuesday.

You may need temporary orders while the two of you are working out the details of your separation. Technically, you cannot obtain temporary parenting or support orders during the time you are waiting to finalize a dissolution of marriage. The Court doesn’t get involved until you appear before the judge for your final hearing. A divorce may be necessary in these circumstances even though a separation agreement may be eventually reached. If you need or want exclusive use of the marital residence, or need temporary parenting and child support orders, or spousal support and help paying the household expenses; then you need to invoke the Court’s jurisdiction to request temporary orders. You also may need the Court to grant you a Temporary Restraining Order to prevent your spouse from disposing of marital property, to protect yourself from harassment and/or physical abuse, or to prevent him from taking the children out of the jurisdiction.

You need a cool head to make sure that you understand the implication of your terminating your marriage. It is not a time for you to “go it alone”.

For more information contact me.

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4 Responses to Do I need a Dissolution or a Divorce?

  1. Reynard Cain says:

    Separated since 07, children grown, no property or assets to divide.
    I just want to move on. What is the cost for a “dissolution vs. divorce”?

    • A dissolution of marriage is usually the most “cost efficient” option, if AND ONLY IF, you and your spouse can agree to the terms of the dissolution. Your spouse must be willing to (1) agree to the terms of the property division, (2) agree to sign all necessary pleading, AND (3) agree to attend the final hearing (for a court to grant a dissolution, both parties must attend a hearing and acknowledge their agreement and their full disclosure of all marital assets and values). A dissolution can be granted between 30 to 90 days from the date of filing. However, the motivation to “move on” can blind a party to potential pitfalls and issues that may arise after the dissolution if the issues are not adequately addressed in the dissolution process. It is always best to consult with legal counsel to review your unique situation.

  2. Sohail Saeed says:

    Recently, I and my spouse had a divorce settlement conference with lawyers, all assets and financial settlement was completed and was agreed by both parties. A day after the settlement conference, I felt very upset because I realized that the division of some of my spouses assets & finances does not seem fair to me. Can I change my mind – what are my options?

    • Until there is a final order, you can always change your mind. You should discuss the issue with your attorney before you change your mind. Sometimes the emotions of the moment may cloud your vision one way or another. Always find out what you best alternative to a negotiated agreement will be. That is, if you don’t agree to settle, what is the likely to happen in court. Good luck.

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