A Guide to Filing for Divorce in Ohio
Even though you may have thought about divorce for quite some time, going through the actual process of filing can be a stressful and emotional experience. This is especially true if you don’t understand how the process works.
Although every divorce in Ohio is unique, most all of them share many of the same rules, procedures and forms in common. Once you have a better understanding of what these are, you can move forward with a higher degree of confidence and less stress as your get the answers to the important questions you’re sure to have.
Here are some important things to know about the filing process for divorce in Ohio:
- Gathering Important Information
- Deciding How to Proceed With Your Divorce
- Filling Out the Required Forms
- Filing Your Documents
- Serving Your Spouse With Divorce Papers
- FAQs About Filing For Divorce in Ohio
Gather important information
No matter your circumstances, you will benefit from being organized at the outset when it comes to tracking down the financial documentation that you’ll need.
Many parts of divorce can be overwhelming, so any steps you can take to save time and reduce stress and anxiety should be a priority for you early in the process.
To help you gain a better understanding of the types of documents and information you’ll need to pull together, we’ve created a great Divorce Information Checklist to assist you.
How will you proceed with your divorce?
The type of divorce you choose sets the tone for how you will go about reaching a resolution.
In short, you need to have a full understanding of the different types of divorce and how they will shape your settlement negotiations.
Here are a few of the most common divorce process options:
You’re probably wondering which one is best. That’s not a simple answer. There are advantages and disadvantages to each.
Fill Out the Required Forms
After you decide what kind of divorce you will pursue, you will need to fill out several forms and submit them the Ohio courts to start your divorce.
If you are working with an attorney, they will guide you through this process. Although it will cost you more when you use an attorney, you will save time and stress in working with a professional who understands the system and who will ensure that your paperwork is filled out correctly.
If you decide to file on your own, you will need to complete all the necessary forms on your own. If you are the one initiating the divorce process, you will be known as the petitioner. If your spouse is the one who files the initial papers, then you will be known as the respondent.
Here is a list of commonly used forms in Ohio. Which ones you need to use will depend on your unique situation. Depending on your situation, there may also be additional forms that the courts will require to be completed as well.
- Affidavit in Compliance with O.R.C. 3109.27, or Information for Parenting Proceeding. These forms are used only in dissolutions and divorces involving children.
- Answer and Counterclaim. This is filed by the Defendant and is used in contested divorces. It contests actions when a spouse wants to agree or disagree with allegations and claims made by the Plaintiff in the Complaint for Divorce. It includes a Certificate of Service, certifying that a copy of the Answer and Counterclaim was mailed to the Plaintiff or his or her attorney.
- Child Support Deduction Notice. This form is used to require an employer to withhold a certain percentage of a payor’s income and pay it directly to the Office of Child Support, which in turn is sends it to the custodial parent.
- Child Support Computation Worksheets. These worksheets are used to compute child support based on the custody arrangements.
- Complaint for Divorce. This is filed by a Plaintiff and can be used in an uncontested or contested divorce. It identifies the parties, any children, and may ask for an equitable distribution of property, custody, spousal and child support and the restoration of a name. It establishes that the Plaintiff meets the residency requirements for a divorce.
- Decree of Dissolution of Marriage. This form is signed by a judge and ends a marriage in a dissolution.
- Financial Disclosure Affidavit. Depending on the county of filing, this form may be required of either or both spouses. Two versions of the form are in use in Ohio counties. It catalogs the income and assets of the filing spouse.
- Health Care Order. This form is used in dissolutions where there are minor children and orders one spouse or the other to maintain proper health coverage for them.
- Health Insurance Disclosure Affidavit. This provides information on medical coverage for all members of a family going through a divorce. It includes details about medical, dental, vision and prescription coverage including deductible amounts.
- Judgment Entry Decree of Divorce. This form is signed by a judge and ends a marriage in a divorce. It spells out the terms and conditions of child support, medical and life insurance, any income tax dependency exemption, property division and it includes a number of legal notices further defining terms of the divorce.
- Motion for Conversion and Petition for Dissolution and Order. This form is used when a couple start a divorce by then are able to negotiate a settlement with both spouses agreeing to end the marriage through a dissolution.
- Motion for Conversion and Complaint for Divorce and Order. This is the opposite of the previous form and is used with a couple start out with a dissolution action, but can’t come to terms and then decide to proceed with a divorce action instead.
- Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. This form is filed jointly and is used in an uncontested divorce. It identifies both parties, their children and an executed separation agreement.
- Separation Agreement. This form is filed jointly with the Petition of Dissolution and stipulates the division of all property and debts, spousal support (how much and for how long, if appropriate), the allocation of parental rights, parenting time, responsibilities and child support.
- Service of Summons. This document informs the Defendant that they are being sued for divorce and is often times delivered via certified mail.
- Spousal Support Deduction Notice. This form is used to require an employer to withhold a certain percentage of a payor’s income for payment to the payee.
- Waiver of Legal Representation. This form is used in marital dissolutions and states that neither party is represented by legal counsel. Some counties in Ohio do not require this form.
- Waiver of Service of Summons. This form is used when a couple files for dissolution. It is signed and filed jointly. Some Petitions for Dissolution have a provision for a waiver so this form is not always required.
If you are working with an attorney, they will make sure all the forms are correct and will help you file them at the appropriate county clerk’s office.
File Your Documents
If you are working with an attorney, they will make sure all the forms are correct and will file them for you at the Court of Common Pleas in the county where you or your spouse live. The Domestic Relations or Family Law department is the place where divorce filings are actually accepted.
In Ohio, filing fees vary by county. For the vast majority of counties, the fees fall between $200 and $300. To find out the exact amount for your county, you will need to contact the courthouse and ask for the amount.
In cases where you cannot afford to pay fees, you may request a waiver.
Serving Your Spouse With Divorce Papers
Once your forms are filed with the court in Ohio, your spouse must be notified of the pending action by being served with a summons and the complaint.
In Ohio, anyone who is over 18 and is not a party in the divorce can serve divorce papers. This can include a county sheriff or a paid process server.
However, most of the time, service of process is completed by certified or express mail. The county clerk will mail the documents with a return receipt requested and records the facts of the mailing on the appearance docket.
It the spouse declines service or does not pick up the certified mail, then the plaintiff must attempt personal service. When the service has been completed, the person who completed the service verifies that it has been completed and notifies the clerk.
If there is a failure of service and the plaintiff or the server cannot locate the spouse, then service can be completed using service by publication. In this instance, the plaintiff makes a diligent search and then can file a motion to advertise notice of service.
When this is done, the clerk notifies a local general circulation newspaper in the Ohio county where the complaint has been filed. The notice is then published at least once a week for six weeks and the process of service is effect on the date of the last publication.
Frequently Asked Questions About Filing for Divorce in Ohio
How much does it cost to file for a divorce in Ohio?
Filing fees vary by county in Ohio. For the vast majority of counties, the fees fall between $200 and $300. To find out the exact amount for your county, you will need to contact the courthouse and ask for the amount.
Fees for photocopies, notary fees, mailing, process server fees or attorney costs are not included.
Read More: How Much Does Divorce Cost?
Can divorce fees be waived in Ohio?
Depending on your circumstances, in Ohio it may be possible to ask a judge to waive your fees by filing of a fee waiver request. You may be able to get fees waived if you are receiving public benefits such as welfare, Food Stamps, or SSI benefits. You may also get a waiver if you can demonstrate you do not have enough money to support your family and pay the fees.
Can I file for a divorce online in Ohio?
You can do much of the work related to a divorce online, especially in an uncontested divorce or when you decide on a Dissolution of Marriage as the route you want to pursue, but ultimately forms will need to be submitted in person at your county courthouse.
There are several online services and attorneys who will work with you online to help prep all the necessary forms you will need for your particular situation in Ohio. These entities will then prepare the forms in their office and return them to you for review, either by email, regular mail, or through an actual visit to their offices.
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How long does it take to get a divorce in Ohio?
Once papers have been filed, for an uncontested divorce it will take between 30 and 90 days for a divorce to be final. The amount of time will depend on the caseload of the local court and the availability of judges to sign the Final Decree for Dissolution.
In divorces where there are disagreements over things such as a division of assets, custody or support issues and a judge must intervene, finalizing a divorce can take considerably longer.
What are the residency requirements to file for a divorce in Ohio?
You must be a resident of Ohio for six months leading up to your filing for a divorce. In addition, you must also live in the county where you file for a minimum of 90 days.
The exception to this is that if your spouse has met the residency requirements in Ohio, you can file for a divorce in Ohio even if you live somewhere else. Things may be a little complicated if you lived somewhere else prior to moving to Ohio and you own assets in another state.
Can I file for divorce in Ohio without using a lawyer?
Yes. For couples who want an uncontested divorce and who can work out all issues between them, it is possible to file for a Dissolution of Marriage which is the simplest way to end a marriage in Ohio.
Can I get a divorce in Ohio if I am pregnant?
You can get a divorce in Ohio if you are pregnant but depending on several factors it may not be an easy process to go through.
There is no specific law that says you cannot get a divorce while pregnant, but some counties and some judges have strong preferences about declining to grant a divorce until the child is born so that child support can be clearly established. Courts do not want a child to go without any child support for several months until paternity can be clearly established and support is ordered through the appropriate agency.
Courts may also put a divorce on hold because they may not want a mother and father to go through more court actions to establish parentage, parental rights and support issues.
How is my divorce affected if I am a member of the military in Ohio?
Your or your spouse must be either live in Ohio or be stationed in the state to meet residence requirements under the laws governing military personnel who are seeking a divorce.
The grounds for a military divorce are the same as they are for a civilian divorce in Ohio. You can either file for a no-fault or a fault-based divorce.
Once paperwork has been filed to begin a divorce, copies must be served on a spouse to give him or her a chance to respond. When that spouse is in the military, they have certain protections afforded to them by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. This allows them to postpone the divorce while they are overseas or otherwise not able to adequately respond to the petition due to military service commitments.
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act eases many legal and financial burdens of military personnel and their families who face the added challenges of active duty. A service member may choose to waive delaying the divorce by signing off on paperwork which will then allow the divorce to proceed uncontested.
In addition to Ohio property division laws, the federal government also protects military personnel through the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act that governs how military benefits are calculated when a divorce takes place. Federal laws will not allow a military members retirement to be distributed to a spouse unless the couple has been married for 10 years or more while the service member was on active duty.
The U.S. government will not recognize a division of a military pension if those terms are not met, but what may happen is that Ohio courts will assign other assets to a spouse that has an equal value to what the military pension may be worth.
Child support and spousal support are determined by state guidelines, but federal law dictates that child and spousal support awards may not exceed 60% of a servicemember’s pay and allowances if they are single. Normal Ohio child support worksheets, rules, and procedures are used to determine the exact amount of required support.
Looking for more great tips about filing for divorce? Check out a few of our favorite resources:
- How to File for Divorce
- How Should I Prepare for Divorce
- What Are The Types of Divorce
- How Should I Prepare for Divorce