The Center for
Principled Family Advocacy
Ohio law allows for an alternative
to divorce called dissolution of marriage. Couples
in the state can seek a dissolution if they can
agree before filing on all issues regarding
property, support and parenting.
Many people prefer ending their
marriage through dissolution. It can be done on the
spouses’ time table and the details remain private.
You can file for dissolution even if your marital
assets are complex and you have children together.
The requirement is agreement by both spouses and
attendance at the dissolution hearing.
This does not mean that an Ohio
dissolution is straightforward or a do-it-yourself
proposition. Even if the end of your marriage
appears to be relatively straightforward, you will
likely benefit from at least consulting with an
attorney, particularly if you have children from the
Nor should you expect to slip
something past your soon-to-be ex spouse or the
court. The judge or magistrate will examine the
agreement and can deny the petition or request
Both spouses are required to attend
the dissolution hearing. If one spouse cannot or
will not attend, you must file for divorce.
Dissolution is different from divorce
Some other states call a divorce a
dissolution. But in Ohio, divorce and dissolution
are two distinct legal actions to end a marriage,
with dissolution covered under Ohio Revised Code
In an Ohio dissolution, the
resolution of all marital issues must be described
in a written document called a separation agreement.
Parenting issues are included in the separation
agreement or spelled out in a section called a
shared parenting plan. The agreement must comply
with Ohio laws regarding property division, spousal
support and parenting.
Once all the issues are resolved in
writing, a petition for dissolution can be filed
with your local
Ohio county domestic relations clerk of courts.
A signed copy of the separation agreement and all
other required paperwork must be attached to the
petition. In addition, the husband and wife waive
the requirement for the clerk of courts to serve
them with the petition for dissolution.
The petition is considered a request
The petition for dissolution is
legally considered a request to end the marriage.
The court must set a hearing date no less than 30
days or more than 90 days after the petition and
paperwork are filed. Both spouses must attend the
hearing or the petition will not be granted.
At the hearing, the court must be
given a judgment entry for dissolution with signed
copies of the separation agreement and other
necessary paperwork. You might be able to prepare
these yourself. Most people hire attorneys to
prepare dissolution documents.
The judge has the discretion to
disallow the petition. However, if everything is in
order, the settlement fair and legal and both
spouses present and in agreement, the court will
almost always grant the petition.
If one spouse is contesting the end
of the marriage or the division of property, you
must petition for divorce, not dissolution. Other
circumstances, such as a spouse absent for more than
a year or who is locatable but will neither contest
nor sign an agreement to end the marriage, a fairly
common occurrence, also fall under ("uncontested”
and no-fault) divorce in Ohio.
If you and your spouse have decided
to move on with your lives and can agree on all the
terms, dissolution will work for you. Attorneys
belonging to the
Center for Principled Family Advocacy, which
promotes non-litigated approaches to ending
marriage, can be hired to help you decide which form
fits your circumstances, negotiate a fair agreement
and prepare the legal documents.
Should you wish to pursue a
dissolution but are having difficulty agreeing on
some issues, you can hire a mediator. Your attorney
may have a recommendation or you can choose from
members of the Center trained in divorce mediation.