Dissolution is Ohio's form of a "no fault divorce."
Unlike a divorce, a Dissolution does not include any "grounds" which must be proved to obtain the Dissolution Decree. That is, one spouse need not prove that the other spouse has been unfaithful in any way. Thus, the "no fault" nature of the procedure.
The objectives of a divorce are obtained, climaxing with a Dissolution Decree, which separates the parties and provides a future road map for their legal relations. Only the procedure is different. It is in fact an agreed termination of the marital relationship, the decree of which has all the effects of a divorce decree. It has the advantage of being the swiftest form of marital separation of the three forms in Ohio, which are 1) contested divorce, 2) non-contested divorce, and 3) dissolution.
My spouse and I agree that we want a dissolution. How do we start the process and what should we include in our agreement?
The action is commenced by filing a petition for dissolution of marriage signed by both parties. The heart of the Dissolution is the Separation Agreement, agreed to by both parties. This agreement must provide for the division of all property, and if there are minor children of the marriage, for an allocation of parental rights and responsibilities, the designation of a residential parent and legal custodian of the minor children, child support, and parenting time rights [visitation]. A shared parenting plan may be included in the agreement if the parents desire a shared parenting arrangement. Spousal support may be provided through a Dissolution, but only by agreement of the parties. Any future modification provisions must also be agreed to by the parties in their agreement.
What will be expected of my spouse and I by the court?
All the legal pleadings and affidavits required for the procedure must be completed prior to the filing of the petition. Just as both parties must sign the petition together, they must also appear before the court together at the final hearing. Both parties must reach agreement upon all issues within their separation agreement, or the dissolution cannot proceed and will be dismissed by the court. Thus, either party may change their mind, even at the last minute. However, if the parties still desire that their marriage be terminated but cannot agree upon all issues, a motion may be made to the court requesting that their petition be converted to a divorce action. This conversion will result in considerable added expense, as a contested divorce is the result, and a new court date must be obtained upon the court's divorce docket, thus delaying the final dissolution of the marriage.
Expense is an important consideration for both of us. Can we use a single agreed upon attorney to obtain a dissolution?
Yes, a single attorney may be retained to prepare the legal documents required for a dissolution, thus eliminating the need for separate attorneys. Your attorney can only represent one of the parties to the action, but may work with your spouse to achieve your agreed goals.
It is strongly recommended that counsel be retained for a Dissolution. Because of the voluntary and consensual agreement nature of this action, any changes to the agreement following the issuance of the Dissolution Decree will be difficult. Protect your rights.