The two most common ways to terminate a marriage are dissolution and divorce. When facing either of these routes it can seem overwhelming and unclear. The family law attorneys at Isaac Wiles are here to help you understand the differences and move forward with the option that works best for you. Here’s some general information:
What is a dissolution?
A dissolution is an agreed termination of marriage. Prior to filing for a dissolution of your marriage, an agreement between spouses must be made on all issues between them, including (i) the division of the parties’ assets and debts, (ii) child custody and parenting time issues, if they have a child or children, (iii) child support and, if applicable, (iv) spousal support (also called alimony).
Once agreement is reached, dissolution papers are filed with the appropriate court. Then, the parties must appear in court at a brief hearing after which the judge will terminate the marriage. That hearing has to occur within 90 days after filing the dissolution documents with the Court. Most final hearings are scheduled 30 days after filing, making a dissolution a quick resolution.
What is a divorce?
A divorce starts by a spouse filing a complaint for divorce asking the court to terminate his/her marriage. In the complaint, the filer alleges that the other spouse is at fault under one or more of Ohio’s statutory grounds. The most common reasons are as follows:
As you can see, the last two reasons are “no fault” reasons, and more often than not in a divorce the parties ultimately come to an agreement to terminate the marriage on one of these “no fault” grounds.
In the course of the divorce case, the parties address the same issues as in a dissolution. If the parties cannot settle these issues, then there is a trial. Divorce cases are not tried before a jury, but are tried before a judge or magistrate depending on the county where the suit was filed. The judge or magistrate then decides the contested issues.
A contested divorce case can take in excess of one year, with multiple Court appearances. Depending on the complexity of the issues before the Court, a divorce case may require a party to hire expert witnesses (accountants or psychologists), and with custody and/or parenting time issues, a guardian ad litem, also known as a “GAL,” may be appointed by the Court to represent the best interest of the child/children of the parties.
What about a legal separation?
A legal separation is essentially the same as a divorce, however, at the end of the proceeding the parties are only “legally separated.” In the eyes of the law they remain married. A legal separation is typically requested, rather than a dissolution or a divorce for religious reasons or so that a party can stay on the other’s health insurance.