Contested Divorce vs. Dissolution of Marriage 

December 17, 2019  

Under Ohio law, there are actually two ways to legally end a marriage. The first, known as a dissolution of marriage, does not require either of the parties to prove that the other was at fault for the demise of the marriage in order to terminate the marriage. Those who choose to file for divorce, on the other hand, must allege that one of the parties was at fault for the end of a marriage, which can be a complicated and emotional process that is often not conducive to negotiating an out-of-court settlement. 

Whether a couple should file for divorce or attempt to dissolve their marriage depends on the specific circumstances of their case, so if you and your partner have decided to legally end your marriage, it is important to speak with an experienced Ohio divorce lawyer who can explain your legal options.  

The Legal Implications of Dissolving a Marriage

When Ohio couples are able to come to out-of-court agreements regarding how their marital assets will be divided, whether one spouse will pay alimony, and child custody, they have the option of filing a petition to dissolve their marriage. Unlike the divorce process, which requires one of the spouses to prove that the other was at fault for the end of the marriage, dissolution merely requires the joint filing of a dissolution petition. However, this step should only be taken after the couple has signed a separation agreement that addresses asset division and alimony, and if a couple has children, child support, and custody arrangements. 

After filing a petition to dissolve a marriage, a couple will be required to wait for at least one month, at which point the court will review the agreement, obtain a list of the parties’ debts and assets, ensure that both parties understand the agreement, discuss any issues related to child custody, and if appropriate, approve the arrangement and grant a dissolution. In these cases, a couple’s separation agreement becomes an enforceable court order. 

Litigating a Divorce  

When couples are not able to come to an agreement on how to divide assets, whether one party will be required to pay spousal maintenance, or who will retain custody of their children, they will be required to litigate those issues in front of a judge who will be tasked with resolving them and creating a settlement agreement. This means that a court will ultimately determine how assets will be divided and if a couple has children, how parenting time and parental decision making will be divided. While courts are directed to only order property settlements that are fair and equitable, it is not uncommon for one party to receive more than the other. Similarly, although courts generally presume that shared parenting plans are in a child’s best interests, they do have the ability to award sole legal and physical custody to a single parent. For these reasons, many couples are strongly encouraged to try and reach a settlement agreement in an out-of-court setting before attempting litigation.  

Contact Our Office Today to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation

To speak with an experienced Ohio divorce attorney about dissolving your own marriage, please contact Kryszak & Associates to set up an appointment. Initial consultations are offered free of charge, so please do not hesitate to call or contact us online today.