I need a divorce, but where do I start?
One of the most difficult questions that one may ask themselves is, “I need a divorce, but where do I start?”
Unfortunately, this is a question that you or a loved one may be asking yourself. Here at White Law Office, Co. we strive to help individuals understand their options and bring peace of mind when facing such tough questions.
When facing this tough question, the first option that we discuss with clients is one that White Law Office, Co. strongly suggests and recommends. We strongly suggest that the individuals first attempt mediation. There is an abundance of mediation services throughout the region. In an attempt to save the marriage, we strongly encourage parties to seek mediation first.
However, mediation may not be the best option for you. Depending upon your situation and the issues that you are facing, your starting point may defer. Under Ohio law, there are several options for dissolving a marriage.
For instance, a divorce may not be the right choice for you or your loved one. Instead, it may be best for you or your loved one to pursue a dissolution or legal separation.
When you and your spouse cannot agree as to whether the marriage should be dissolved, and a dispute arises between the parties involving marital/ separate property or custody of the minor children, a divorce action may be appropriate. The first step in the divorce process is to draft all the necessary pleadings- including but not limited to:
1. The Complaint for Divorce;
2. Motion for Temporary Orders (if necessary);
3. Required Affidavits; and,
4. A Notice of Appearance (if you retain an attorney to assist you).
Essentially, a divorce allows for the Court to make a determination pursuant to Ohio law as to the division of marital property and separate property. When filing for a divorce, the court will also have the ability to grant custody of the minor child(ren) and impose visitation pursuant to Ohio law. Keep in mind that most, but not all, divorces settle in that the parties reach an agreement prior to the final hearing and said agreement is memorialized in a written document submitted to the Court for approval.
Dissolution is different than divorce. Simply put, dissolution is not contentious. Both parties prepare and execute a separation agreement (which details the division of marital and separate property- including assets and debts), agreed affidavits, and if necessary, an agreed parenting plan. Rather than filing a Complaint for dissolution, one would file a “petition” along with the separation agreement, affidavits, and parenting plan (if necessary). If approved by the Court, the marriage is dissolved after attending the final hearing.
Legal Separation is an option available to parties that would like to live separate and apart as if they are divorced but would remain married. This option is reserved for those who are opposed to divorce and dissolution based upon religious views or other reasons. A legal separation allows the court to divide marital assets/debts, property, and award custody and visitation of the minor children from the marriage. In a legal separation, both parties must agree to a legal separation in order for the Court to grant one.
If you or a loved one is asking the question, “I need a divorce, but where do I start?” we highly recommend setting up a consultation with our family law team to provide you with the answers that you seek and discuss your options in pursuing your rights.
Matthew A. Kearney
Attorney At Law