There are several different types of divorce in Ohio, which is a hybrid state. This means that it offers both “no-fault divorces” and “fault divorces”, as well as dissolutions.
A no-fault divorce does not require the parties to explain or justify why they are seeking a divorce, or assign blame to either party. The majority of couples pursuing divorce in Ohio opt for a no-fault divorce.
Another no-fault option is dissolution, in which couples come to complete agreement about all of the terms of their divorce (i.e., division of property/assets, child custody/support, and spousal support) on their own. Dissolutions tend to be far easier, less expensive, and less time consuming than any other way to end a marriage, but they do require complete agreement on all terms without court intervention, which is often not possible for divorcing couples.
A fault divorce is when one spouse states a “fault” as the cause of the divorce (which can be one of several harmful behaviors, such as adultery). It requires proof before the court, as well as the testimony of a third-party witness. Fault divorces are often longer, costlier, and more acrimonious than no-fault divorces or dissolutions.
There are also options available to encourage couples to work out agreements outside the courtroom. One of these is mediation, in which the divorcing couple and their attorneys sit down with a mediator, an objective third party who is trained to help people come to agreements. The mediation process can take place in one session or over the course of a number of sessions. The end goal is to come to an agreement about the important terms of a divorce (property/assets, child custody/support, and spousal support) with as little hostility and long-term damage as possible.
Another option is negotiated settlement. This is similar to mediation, except for that the negotiation takes place between the parties’ attorneys, and does not require the parties themselves to interact. This is a good solution for couples who want to avoid hostility and acrimony but who would not be able to interact or negotiate in a helpful way.
If mediation and/or negotiated settlement is successful, the parties will be able to arrive at a settlement that is sustainable and acceptable to both of them. This will save them the time, cost, hostility, and energy of litigation. However, if they do not arrive at an agreement through these processes, the case will have to proceed to trial.
How long do divorces in Ohio usually take?
Divorces in Ohio can vary in length, depending on several factors. According to the Ohio Supreme Court guidelines, a contested (or litigated) divorce may be resolved within 12 months of filing if no children are involved, and within 18 months if children are involved. However, more complex cases and cases where parties are less cooperative are likely to take longer.
In addition, due to the COVID-19 crisis, the court is working on an amended system, and is experiencing significant delays. This can be expected to extend the length of divorce cases for the indefinite future.