You and your spouse have reached a fork in the road and have decided to go your separate ways. Neither one of you is at fault, and you both agree that ending the marriage is what’s best. You technically have three options if you live in the state of Ohio. You can get a:
- Dissolution of marriage
- Legal separation (doesn’t technically end the marriage)
In this example, the circumstances are ideal for a dissolution of marriage  because both parties are in agreement on all issues required to terminate the marriage by agreement. This method of separating is only an option when both people are on the same page with ALL issues, which is why it’s often considered a “no-fault divorce”. You are required to both reside in the state of Ohio for at least six months prior to getting the dissolution of marriage.
Luckily, pursuing a dissolution of marriage is less complex and costly than getting a divorce. But how do you get a dissolution of marriage? Here are the primary steps:
Come to a Complete Agreement
The first step is to discuss, agree, and come up with a plan for all property, spousal support and any child-related issues. This includes items like:
- Shared Parenting or Sole Custody
- Residential Parent Status
- Parenting time schedule
- School year/Summer/Holidays/vacations
- Child support
- Division of uncovered medical bills
- Who carries health insurance?
- Who pays extracurricular activity and school costs?
- Which parent receives the tax exemptions/credits?
Division of property
Payment of debts
Payment of attorney fees
File a Dissolution Petition
Next, you must jointly file a dissolution petition. This formal court document officially initiates the dissolution proceeding. Even though both parties are already on the same page, the dissolution petition is a formal way of “notifying” each party that the other is seeking a dissolution of their marriage, while asking the court to adopt their agreements as final court orders.
Attend the Final Hearing
After the dissolution petition is filed with the court, a hearing will take place within 30 to 90 days. It’s a requirement that both parties attend the hearing and testify that they are in alignment with the petition and separation agreement/shared parenting plan. Both individuals are also required to testify that they:
- Have made full, honest disclosure of all assets and liabilities
- Have voluntarily signed the agreement
- Want the marriage dissolved
The final hearing will be conducted electronically (on zoom) in most cases.
Remain in Agreement
Remember: A dissolution of marriage is only applicable if both parties are in agreement about ending the marriage. If one of the individuals changes their mind or disagrees with anything in the petition at any point in this process, the couple will need to pursue a divorce instead. Throughout every step, it’s essential to remain in agreement with each other.
Get the Court’s Approval
During the hearing, the Judge must ultimately “approve” of the dissolution of marriage. The Judge will determine whether it’s satisfied that the parties desire to end their marriage. Once it does, the court will make the separation agreement and/or shared parenting plan a court order and officially dissolve the marriage.
Because both parties are on the same page during a dissolution of marriage, it’s often a smoother process than a divorce , which usually entails more court involvement, negotiations, and multiple court hearings. For this reason, dissolution of marriage is often faster than divorce. Also, dissolution of marriage is usually more cost-effective compared to pursuing a divorce.
While the above steps may seem clear-cut, it’s never a bad idea to have a family law attorney by your side throughout this legal process. With filing petitions, affidavits, and attending a hearing, having a trusted lawyer by your side can help make the process less intimidating and more smooth-sailing. It’s also wise to include an objective third party to help ensure your side of the agreement is fair and equitable.
Columbus Ohio Divorce Lawyer
The Law Offices of Kenneth R. Kline LLC  is honored to work with both traditional and non-traditional families to assist them through extraordinarily difficult times. Please contact us  with any questions.