Divorce in Ohio: Everything You Need to Know

1 min readLast updated March 26, 2024by Unbiased team

If you’re initiating proceedings or currently going through a divorce, this article will take you through the processes and costs associated with divorce in Ohio.

Summary

  • The state recognizes three primary ways for a husband and wife to end or alter their marital relationship: legal separation, divorce, and dissolution of marriage. 

  • Divorces in Ohio can be contested or uncontested; the option you choose will greatly impact the cost and length of divorce proceedings. 

  • To file for divorce in Ohio, you or your spouse must have been a resident of the state for at least six months before filing.

  • A financial advisor can help you protect your finances through a divorce and develop a long-term plan to rebuild afterward. 

What are the different types of divorce in Ohio?

In Ohio, clearly defined legal processes make navigating the complexities of ending a marriage somewhat simpler. 

Ohio allows for both fault and no-fault divorces. The state recognizes three primary ways for a husband and wife to end or alter their marital relationship: legal separation, divorce, and dissolution of marriage. 

Each option serves different needs and situations:

  • Legal separation

This option does not end the marriage but allows couples to live apart while remaining legally married. 

It's a choice for those who have religious, financial, or personal reasons for wanting to stay married while living separate lives. 

Legal separation addresses and legally binds the parties to agreements on issues such as asset division, child custody, and support, much like a divorce would.

  • Divorce

Divorce formally ends a marriage and can be initiated by one spouse. In Ohio, divorces can be contested or uncontested.

A contested divorce is where the parties cannot agree on one or more terms of the separation, such as asset division, child custody, or alimony. This type of divorce may require court intervention to settle disputes. 

An uncontested divorce occurs when both spouses agree on all terms of their separation, leading to a potentially smoother and quicker legal process.

  • Dissolution of marriage

This process is similar to what some may refer to as an "uncontested divorce" in other states. 

In dissolution, both spouses agree on all terms of their separation, including asset division, child custody, support, and any other relevant matters, before filing a joint petition with the court. 

The court then reviews and approves the agreement, formally dissolving the marriage. This option is often faster and less expensive than a contested divorce.

Each path offers different benefits and considerations, allowing couples to choose the process that best fits their unique circumstances. 

How much does a divorce cost in Ohio?

The cost of a divorce in Ohio varies significantly based on several factors, including the complexity of the case, whether it's contested or uncontested, and the need for additional legal services.

Here’s an overview of the common costs you’ll need to factor in:

  • Filing fees: The initial step in the divorce process is filing a complaint with the court, which incurs a filing fee. These fees vary by county but typically range from $200 to $300. It's important to check with your local court for the exact amount.

  • Attorney fees: The largest variable in the cost of a divorce is attorney fees. For uncontested divorces, some attorneys may offer a flat rate, while contested divorces are typically billed at an hourly rate. Depending on the lawyer's experience and the case's complexity, hourly rates can vary widely, generally ranging from $150 to $350 per hour in Ohio.

  • Additional costs: Other potential expenses include mediation costs, which can be a requirement in some counties to resolve disputes outside of court, fees for financial analysts or child custody evaluators if needed, and court costs for processing documents or court orders.

It's crucial to understand that while these figures provide a baseline, the actual cost of your divorce may vary based on your specific circumstances. 

How do you file for divorce in Ohio?

When filing for divorce in Ohio, you have to follow a number of predetermined steps. These include:

  1. Determining your eligibility: To file for divorce in Ohio, you or your spouse must have been a resident of the state for at least six months before filing.

  2. Choosing the grounds for divorce: Ohio allows for both fault and no-fault divorces. Deciding on the grounds can influence the course of the divorce proceedings.

  3. Preparing the necessary documents: This includes the Complaint for Divorce and other required forms, which vary depending on your county.

  4. Filing the complaint: Submit your divorce paperwork to the Clerk of Courts in the county where you or your spouse resides. A filing fee will be required.

  5. Serving your spouse: After filing, you must legally notify your spouse by serving them with the divorce papers, following Ohio’s rules for service.

  6. Waiting for a response: Your spouse has 28 days to respond. The course of action will depend on whether the divorce is contested or uncontested.

  7. Attending your court hearings: Both parties will need to attend any scheduled court hearings, which may include discussions on asset division, child custody, and alimony.

  8. Finalizing the divorce: Once all issues are resolved, the court will issue a final divorce decree, officially ending the marriage.

How do you split assets in a divorce in Ohio?

Divorce proceedings in Ohio follow an equitable distribution model to divide marital assets — this doesn't necessarily mean a 50/50 split but rather a fair and just division. 

Ohio law distinguishes between marital assets (property acquired during the marriage) and separate property (owned before the marriage, inheritances, gifts, etc.). Generally, marital assets are subject to division, while separate property remains with the original owner.

The court systematically evaluates the couple's assets to decide on an equitable division. This may involve liquidating assets, assigning certain assets to one spouse, or other arrangements deemed fair.

Similar to assets, debts are also divided equitably. The court will determine which marital debts should be shared and which are individual responsibilities.

The court considers several factors when dividing assets, including but not limited to:

  • The duration of the marriage.

  • Each spouse's assets and liabilities.

  • The desirability of awarding the family home to the spouse with custody of children.

  • The liquidity of the property to be distributed.

  • The economic desirability of retaining intact an asset or an interest in an asset.

  • The tax consequences of the proposed distribution.

  • Any other factor the court finds to be relevant and equitable.

How does alimony work in Ohio?

In Ohio, alimony is referred to as "spousal support." 

It's financial assistance that one spouse pays to the other during or after a divorce, intended to address economic disparities that can arise from the end of a marriage. 

Not every divorce in Ohio results in spousal support. The court considers several factors when determining whether spousal support is appropriate, including: 

  • Each spouse's income

  • The length of the marriage

  • Each party's age and physical, mental, and emotional condition

  • The standard of living established during the marriage

If support is granted, a court will determine what type of support should be given. 

Ohio law allows for both temporary and permanent spousal support. Temporary support may be granted during the divorce process, while permanent support is awarded in the final divorce decree. However, "permanent" support often has a set duration, especially in shorter marriages.

The amount and duration of spousal support are determined based on factors such as the recipient's need and the other spouse's ability to pay. The court also considers the duration of the marriage, with longer marriages more likely to result in longer periods of support.

It’s also important to know spousal support orders can be modified if circumstances significantly change, such as a substantial change in either party's income. Support typically terminates if the recipient remarries or either party dies.

It's important to note that for divorces finalized after December 31, 2018, spousal support is no longer deductible by the payer or taxable to the recipient for federal income tax purposes.

Get expert financial advice

A financial advisor can help you assess your current financial status, create a post-divorce budget, and develop a long-term financial plan that aligns with your needs and goals.

Unbiased can connect you with a financial advisor who meets your needs. Simply provide some details about what you’re looking for, and Unbiased’s platform will match you with your advisor.

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Our team of writers, who have decades of experience writing about personal finance, including investing and retirement, are here to help you find out what you must know about life’s biggest financial decisions.