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What is the difference between legal separtion, dissolution of marriage, and a divorce in the state of Ohio.

Akron, OH |

I was married in FL, and now reside in OH. How can file for legal separation? Does it make a difference if my husband is still in FL?

Attorney Answers 2


  1. Divorce or dissolution of marriage means deciding to end the status of being married and to divide the community assets. In some states divorce is where parties cannot agree on property and support issues and dissolution is an agreed to resolution. Separation means deciding to at least pause the relationship, not continue to have future community property or community debt. You still have the legal status of being married and cannot remarry until divorced.

    Most states have residency requirements before you can file for separation or divorce. It depends how long you have been in Ohio. I believe they have a 6 month requirement for the state and 90 days for the county in which you file

    The response given is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be anything other than the educated opinion of the author. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change.


  2. Steve is correct on the timeframe of the residency requirement if you are seeking a divorce. There is only the state requirement for a dissolution to be file. For a legal separation, there is no residency requirement other than planning on continuing to reside in the state of Ohio.

    A legal separation is just like a divorce in that all of the property gets divided, debts are assigned to one person of the other, and the children - if any - are decided as to custody and suport obligations. You remain married in name only since you and your spouse have no marital obligations any longer. It follows the same procedures as a divorce except you are still married when the case is over.

    For a dissolution, you work out a separation agreement between both of you so everything is decided before going to court. You then file this agreement and all supporting documents to the court asking the judge to terminate your marriage under those terms. In Ohio, there is a six weeks waiting period before the judge can terminate the marrige and both parties must appear in front of the judge at a hearing to affirm the agreement after the six weeks have past.

    For a divorce, you would file the paperwork asking for a divorce. Your spouse would be served the complaint for the divorce and a pretrial would be set. The court would then give you time to work out the issues to resolve the divorce and the court has pretrial (or status) hearings to keep track of the progress. If you come to a point that the two parties cannot reach an agreement and tell the court they will not be able to resolve the matter themselves, then the matter is set for a contested trial in front of the court. This can take anywhere from three months to over a year, depending on the issues involved, especially if there are children. If you reach an agreeement during the divorce, then as long as the six weeks have past, then the court can set an immediate hearing to grant the divorce per the agreement. Only the Plaintiff needs to appear at the final hearing, as the Defendant is able to waive appearance by signing off on the agreement.

    So if your husband does not wish to come to Ohio for the hearings, you cannot file for a dissolution.

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