In Ohio, there are four legal processes for terminating a marriage: legal separation, divorce, dissolution of marriage, and annulment.
While there is perhaps no “best” way to terminate a marriage (because any process will naturally involve a certain amount of emotional trauma), there usually is a process which will be the most beneficial and advisable in a given case.
To understand the options and determine which might be right in your case, it is necessary to consult an experienced family law attorney.
A legal separation may be appropriate in certain cases. Parties typically opt for legal separation when they have not met the six-month residency requirement for divorce or dissolution, or when they are opposed to divorce for moral or religious reasons. In a legal separation, the marriage is not terminated, and technically remains legally intact. Otherwise, however, the issues addressed by the Court in a legal separation are the same as those addressed in a divorce or dissolution.
Divorce is terminating a marriage through litigation. Divorces can be contentious and time-intensive. One spouse files a civil lawsuit which is resolved through settlement negotiations or taken to Court for a trial on issues including property division, the designation of a residential parent, parenting time, child support, and spousal support. Importantly, the Court rules on these issues, based upon evidence and in accordance with the law. In the interim, the Court may put in place “temporary orders” concerning the issues as well as mutual restraining orders preventing both parties from using or transferring martial assets. For divorce, a spouse must allege (and ultimately prove) one or more of the legal “grounds” for divorce. Grounds include adultery, willful absence exceeding one year, extreme cruelty, habitual drunkenness, gross neglect of duty, and more.
If the parties can agree on how to resolve the issues that would otherwise be decided by the Court, a dissolution of marriage can be more economical than divorce. Because there are no adversarial court proceedings, a dissolution typically is faster and comes at lesser expense to the parties. There are no “grounds” required for dissolution. In a dissolution, the parties file a petition indicating they are requesting that the court grant the termination of the marriage. A Separation Agreement addressing how the parties propose resolving the issues is attached to the petition. A hearing will take place within 30 to 90 days of filing. The Court reviews the Separation Agreement, and, if approved, terminates the marriage just as in a divorce.
In an annulment, the marriage is not only terminated, but is treated as if it never occurred. As in divorce, an annulment requires one or more legally-recognized “grounds.” With annulments, a spouse generally cannot be awarded spousal support or attorneys’ fees.
The attorneys of Kurt Law Office provide free initial consultations. Call or visit us at www.KurtLawOffice.com to schedule an appointment today.
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