Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Ohio Divorce Laws

Residency Requirements for Divorce in Ohio
The spouse filing for divorce or dissolution of marriage must have been a resident of Ohio for at least 6 months and a resident of the county for at least 90 days immediately prior to filing.
[Ohio Revised Code Annotated; Section 3105.03 and Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure; Rule 3].

Legal Grounds for Divorce in Ohio
  1. No Fault Divorce:
    1. Incompatibility, unless denied by the other spouse (or)
    2. Living separate and apart without cohabitation and without interruption for 1 year
    [Ohio Revised Code Annotated; Section 3105.01].
  2. General Divorce:
    1. Adultery
    2. Imprisonment
    3. Willful desertion for 1 year
    4. Cruel and inhuman treatment
    5. Bigamy
    6. Habitual intemperance (drunkenness)
    7. When a final divorce decree has been obtained outside of the state of Ohio that does not release the other spouse from the obligations of the marriage inside the state of Ohio
    8. Fraud
    9. Neglect
    [Ohio Revised Code Annotated; Section 3105.01].

Legal Separation in Ohio
Legal separation may be sought for the following grounds:

  1. Adultery
  2. Imprisonment
  3. Willful desertion for 1 year
  4. Cruel and inhuman treatment
  5. Bigamy
  6. Habitual intemperance (drunkenness)
  7. When a final divorce decree has been obtained outside of the state of Ohio that does not release the other spouse from the obligations of the marriage inside the state of Ohio
  8. Fraud
  9. Neglect
  10. Incompatibility
  11. Living separate and apart without cohabitation and without interruption for 1 year
[Ohio Revised Code Annotated; Sections 3105.01 and 3105.17].

Simplified/Special Divorce Procedures in Ohio
Both spouses may jointly file a petition for dissolution of marriage. The petition must:

  • Be signed by both spouses (and)
  • Have attached to it a separation agreement which provides for:
    • Division of property
    • Spousal support (including, if the spouses desire, the authorization of the court to modify any spousal support terms)
    • Custody, visitation, and child support, if there are any minor children
    The spouses may include a parenting plan in the agreement. Between 30 and 90 days after filing such a petition, both spouses must appear in court and state under oath that he or she:
    1. Voluntarily signed the agreement
    2. Is satisfied with the agreement
    3. Seeks dissolution of the marriage
    In addition, settlement agreements are also authorized by statute and may be used in a divorce proceeding. A sample divorce complaint form is contained in Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure, Appendix of Forms, Form #20. In addition, separation agreements are specifically authorized. Finally, there may be local court rules which apply to divorce proceedings in Ohio.
    [Ohio Revised Code Annotated; Sections 3105.03, 3105.10, and 3105.61-65 and Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure; Appendix of Forms].

    Divorce Mediation or Counseling Requirements
    At the request of either spouse or on the court's own initiative, the court may order the spouses to undergo conciliation procedures for up to 90 days. The court will set forth the procedures and name the conciliator. In addition, the court may order that parents attend mediation sessions on issues of child custody and visitation matters.
    [Ohio Revised Code Annotated; Sections 3105.091 and 3117.01+].

    Divorce Property Distribution
    Ohio is an "equitable division" state. Each spouse retains her or his separate property, including gifts, inheritances, property acquired prior to the marriage, income, or appreciation of separate property, and individual personal injury awards. An equitable division of all of the spouse's marital property acquired during the marriage, is allowed based on the following factors:

  • The desirability of awarding the family home, or right to reside in it, to the spouse with custody of the children
  • The liquidity of the property to be distributed
  • The financial resources of both spouses
  • The needs and obligations of each spouse
  • The economic desirability of retaining an asset intact
  • The tax consequences of the division
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The costs of any sale of an asset, if a sale is necessary for division purposes
  • Any property division under a valid separaton agreement
  • Any other relevant factor The division of the marital property will be equal, unless such a division would be inequitable. Marital fault is not a consideration. The amount of any spousal support award is not to be con-sidered in the division of property.
    [Ohio Revised Code Annotated; Section 3105.171].

    Alimony and Spousal Support
    Either spouse may be awarded reasonable spousal support, in lump sum or in periodic payments, based on a consideration of the following factors:

    1. Whether the spouse seeking support is the custodian of a child whose condition or circumstances make it appropriate for that spouse not to seek outside employment
    2. The earning ability of both spouses
    3. The income of both spouses, including marital property apportioned to each spouse and each spouse's ability to meet his or her needs independently
    4. The contribution of each spouse to the education, earning ability, and career-building of the other spouse, including the spouse's contribution to the earning of a professional degree by the other spouse
    5. The age of the spouses
    6. The physical, mental, and emotional conditions of the spouses
    7. The relative assets and liabilities of the spouses, including any court-ordered payments
    8. The educational level of each spouse at the time of the marriage and at the time the action for support is commenced
    9. The standard of living during the marriage
    10. Any pension or retirement benefits of either spouse
    11. The duration of the marriage
    12. The tax consequences of the award
    13. The time and expense necessary for the spouse seeking support to acquire education, training, or job experience to obtain appropriate employment
    14. The lost income-producing capacity of either spouse resulting from marital responsibilities
    15. Any other relevant factor
    Marital fault is not a consideration. The court may require a spouse to provide health insurance coverage for the other spouse.
    [Ohio Revised Code Annotated; Sections 3105.18, 3105.71, and 3105.171].

    Spouse's Name After Divorce
    Upon request, the court will restore a person's former or maiden name.
    [Ohio Revised Code Annotated; Sections 3105.16 and 3105.34].

    Child Custody After Divorce
    Shared parenting or sole child custody may be awarded according to the best interests of the child. Factors to be considered are:

  • The preference of the child, if the child is of sufficient age and capacity
  • The child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community
  • The mental and physical health of all individuals involved
  • The relationship of the child with parents, siblings, and other significant family members
  • Whether 1 parent has willfully denied visitation to the other parent
  • Whether either parent has failed to make child support payments to any child
  • Whether either parent lives or intends to live outside of Ohio
  • The ability of the parents to cooperate and make joint decisions
  • The ability of each parent to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other parent
  • Any history of child abuse, spouse abuse, or domestic violence by a parent or anyone who is or will be a member of the household where the child will reside, or parental kidnapping
  • The geographic proximity of the parents to each other as it relates to shared parenting
  • The child's and parent's available time
  • The recommendation of any guardian ad litem (court-appointed guardian) of the child
  • Any other relevant factors. Both parents are considered to have equal rights to custody In addition, for shared parenting to be awarded, both parents must request it and submit a plan for shared parenting. The financial status of a parent is not to be considered for allocating any parental rights and responsibilities. The court may require an investigation of the parents and any evidence of neglect or child or spousal abuse will be considered against the granting of shared parenting or such parent being granted the status as residential parent.
    [Ohio Revised Code Annotated; Sections 3105.21, 3109.03, 3109.04, and 3109.051].

    Child Support After Divorce
    Either or both parents may be ordered to pay child support. Marital misconduct is not to be considered in this award. Health care insurance may be ordered to be provided for the child. Child support payments may be ordered to be paid through the state child support agency. There are official child support guidelines that are presumed to be correct unless there is a showing that the amount of the support award would be unjust or inappropriate under the particular circumstances of a case. Factors which may be considered in adjusting a child support amount are:

    1. Special or unusual needs of a child
    2. Obligations for other minor or handicapped children
    3. Other court-ordered payments
    4. Extended visitation or extraordinary costs for visitation
    5. Mandatory wage deductions including union dues)
    6. Disparity in income between the parents' households
    7. Benefits that either parent receives from remarriage or sharing living expenses with others
    8. The amount of taxes paid by a parent
    9. Significant contributions from a parent (including lessons, sports equipment, or clothing)
    10. The financial resources and earning capacity of the child
    11. The standard of living and circumstances of each parent and the standard of living the child would have enjoyed if the marriage had not been dissolved
    12. The physical and emotional conditions and needs of the child
    13. The medical and educational needs of the child
    14. The relative financial resources, other assets and resources, needs, and obligations of both the noncustodial and the custodial parent
    15. The need and capacity of the child for an education and the educational opportunities of the child
    16. The age of the child
    17. The earning ability of each parent
    18. The responsibility of each parent for the support of others
    19. The value of services contributed by the custodial parent
    20. Any other relevant factor
    A child support computation worksheet is also contained in the statute.
    [Ohio Revised Code Annotated; Sections 3105.71 and 3113.217].
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