Divorce & Dissolution
Navigating Clients Through Divorce Or Dissolution
Reaching a final decision to end a marriage can sometimes be difficult. In Ohio, the process can be completed in one of several ways. The most common is a divorce action or a dissolution of marriage. What are the differences? How long will the process take? Speaking with a lawyer is the only way to obtain individualized legal guidance.
A Client-Focused Approach
Every family is unique. Different issues may be important to each spouse. Relationships with children can make custody decisions particularly complicated. Income, assets, and debt are important issues to settle and vary considerably from family to family. Emotion complicates the divorce and dissolution process. Legal options are dependent on all these factors as well as client goals. At The Law Firm of Doty and Obenour LLC, we listen and understand client priorities. We work hard to obtain the best possible outcome because we truly care. Unlike other law firms, clients work directly with our attorneys throughout their case.
Divorce vs. Dissolution
Dissolution: The parties must agree on the issues before filing a petition with the court. After filing the dissolution petition, a hearing takes place and the court generally approves the agreement as long as it is equitable to both parties.
Divorce: The parties cannot agree about how to end their marriage. A judge or magistrate must decide for them and a divorce action is required.
These are only rough outlines. In both divorce and dissolution cases, we have helped clients resolve the following issues: Designation of residential parent, visitation agreements, custody & shared parenting, and property and debt division
We also process divorce actions and dissolution for same-sex couples. We may be able to reach an agreement through negotiation or mediation. When alternative dispute resolution is not successful, we will take the fight to court.
My hearing is next week and I need help. What do I do?
Please call us as soon as possible to arrange a time for you to come in and for us to review your case and get familiar with the circumstances. We may not be able to be at the hearing because of the late notice, but we can guide you through the process to ask for a continuance from the courts to secure legal representation.
I am a survivor of domestic violence. I can’t afford a lawyer right now.
There are many quality organizations and resources available to survivors. Hannah Botkin-Doty works with the Ohio Domestic Violence Network (https://odvn.org) and the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence (https://oaesv.org). These groups receive grants each year to cover the legal costs of survivors who cannot afford an attorney. Contact them to see what help they can provide.
I just found out we have a Guardian Ad Litem. Now what?
The best thing to do, is to contact the Guardian Ad Litem’s office as soon as possible to set up an initial appointment, and to pay your retainer. Read more about what to do when a GAL has been appointed.
How long does it take for a divorce to be final?
The length of time is significantly affected by how contentious the case is. If you and your spouse are able to come to an agreement about everything including division of debts and assets, parenting time, child support etc. Then an agreement can be filed with the courts 30 days after you file. If you don’t agree on anything or need the assistance of the court to make an order, then you should be prepared to be in the courts for at least a year, sometimes longer. There are often months between court dates, which gives you time to settle out of court.
How long until I have custody over my kids?
This too can take a long while. The only exception is if you file for emergency custody of the children, but this can be very difficult to get because the children need to be in immediate danger of physical harm. Unfortunately the courts are reluctant to grant these orders because they don’t have all of the information from both parents. Also, at least in Franklin County, the preference is Shared Custody and Shared Parenting unless there is a significant issue with the other parent.
Do I have to pay alimony?
Alimony usually comes into play for marriages that last for many years and there is a significant difference in income between the parties. The longer you have been married and the bigger the difference in income, the more likely you are to receive alimony in your divorce. The general rule of thumb for alimony is that you get one year of alimony for every three years of marriage.
What happens if we get back together and want to cancel the divorce?
You can always reconcile at any time up until the date of the final hearing. You will simply need to file a motion to withdraw your complaint for divorce or petition for dissolution and the court will close the case. But remember, if you decide to refile down the road, you will need to disclose that you had a prior case with the courts to the assignment office.
Do I have to move out of the home? Should I not move out of the home?
The court requires that the parties live separate and apart for at least thirty days prior to the final hearing. But until that time, you can stay if you wish. Sometimes moving out takes a significant amount of the emotion and stress out of the case because the opportunity for conflict decreases. If you do decide to move out, be sure to take all of the personal property that belongs to you at that time, you do not want to have to keep coming back and taking things, that only causes drama.
Now, if you want the home to yourself and want the spouse to vacate, you can always file a motion for “beneficial use of the marital property” and ask the court to make an order saying you are the only one allowed to be in the home. Understand this, regardless of who lives in the home while the case is pending, it has no effect on who holds title to the home or who owns it. It will still be included in the division of property and each spouse is entitled to their equitable share of the home’s value.
7100 N High Street, Suite 200
Worthington, OH 43085
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