Ending A Marriage In Ohio-Your Columbus Ohio Divorce Lawyer
The laws and means by which marriages are terminated greatly vary by state. In Ohio, there are several ways to legally end a marriage, and each one depends on the client’s desired end result. A good Columbus divorce lawyer will work with you at the onset of your matter to help you make this crucial and difficult decision.
When both parties agree to the terms of a separation, the termination of the marriage can be achieved though a dissolution. Oftentimes, both parties utilize the services of one attorney for purposes of document drafting and simple negotiations. It is important to note, however, that the attorney legally represents only one party, never both.
In some cases, a dissolution can be done by each party hiring separate counsel and negotiating the terms of the separation privately without interaction with the court.
Whether one or two attorneys are involved, a dissolution can be completed by means of a final hearing 30 days after dissolution paperwork is filed with the court. Oftentimes, your attorney can utilize the services of a private judge to conduct the final dissolution hearing in office-an option many clients appreciate for comfort and privacy reasons.
The lack of desire or ability to negotiate a termination of marriage privately necessitates a divorce filing. One party, either through counsel or a “pro se” appearance, will file a motion asking the court for a divorce. The responding party then has 28 days to file a response. If a response is not filed within this time frame, the court will grant the party filing the initial complaint a divorce on the grounds of his/her choice. If a response is filed, a court hearing is set and divorce proceedings begin. The length and cost of a divorce often depend on case-specific details. Some matters may last a few months, while some may last a year or longer. Typically, one or more court appearances are required by both parties and attorneys. In contested matters involving children, a “Guadian ad Litem” may be appointed to represent the best interests of the children.
Although much less common than divorce and dissolution, the parties may also petition the court for a legal separation. A plaintiff can ask the court to grant a legal separation on the same grounds as those that count in a divorce; incompatibility, adultery, willful absence for more than one year, extreme cruelty, habitual drunkenness, and gross neglect of duty.
Couples often seek a legal separation over divorce or dissolution for religious or health insurance purposes. When a legal separation is finalized, the parties live separate and apart but are still legally married. Therefore, for purposes of health insurance, one or both parties are not excluded from coverage as they would be in a divorce. However, as in divorce and dissolution matters, parties that are legally separated must still abide by given court orders pertaining to child and spousal support, parenting schedules, division of property and payments of any debt.
In rare cases, a party can also petition the court to grant an annulment, meaning that not only is a marriage terminated, the court treats the marriage as if it never took place. It is important to note that, unlike divorce matters, the court does not grant alimony in annulment cases. Similarly, unless the annulment is granted on the grounds of fraud (see below), attorney fees are not granted in annulment cases.
The grounds for an annulment are very different than those used to grant a divorce, however. To qualify for an annulment, one or more of the following must be true; 1) One or both parties were below the age required for marriage (18 for males and 16 for females), and the parties did not live together in a husband-wife relationship after the date of marriage.
2) One or both parties were already legally married and the spouse from the other marriage is living. 3) Either party had been declared incompetent, unless competency was later restored and parties lived together afterward as husband and wife. 4) The marriage consent of either party was obtained by fraud, unless, after learning all of the facts, parties lived together as husband and wife. 5) The consent of either party was obtained by force, unless afterward parties lived together as husband and wife. 6) The marriage was never consummated and the parties failed to have physical relations at any time following the marriage ceremony.
Regardless of the grounds for termination of a marriage or the means by which termination is achieved, it is important to have a solid and reputable legal team behind you during this emotionally trying time. Please review our previous blog, “Choosing the Right Ohio Divorce Attorney” to aide you in the process of choosing the best attorney for your matter.