Ohio Divorce, Separation and Alimony Laws

by Heather Frances J.D. Google
Ohio courts can award alimony in legal separation or divorce cases.

Ohio courts can award alimony in legal separation or divorce cases.

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Each state has its own laws governing domestic issues such as divorce, separation and alimony; thus, Ohio laws govern divorces and separations filed in the state. These laws are primarily found in Chapter 3105 of Ohio’s Revised Code. Whether you’re interested in legal separation or divorce, alimony may be awarded by an Ohio court in either case.

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Residency and Venue

You must be a resident of Ohio for at least six months before you can file your action for separation or divorce. You must also file in the appropriate venue, which is typically the court of common pleas in the county where your spouse lives or where you have lived for at least 90 days just prior to filing.

Grounds

An Ohio court cannot grant your divorce or legal separation without valid grounds. Ohio allows spouses to file based on the no-fault ground of incompatibility, or on one of several fault-based grounds. Fault grounds, such as gross neglect, habitual drunkenness and adultery, require the spouse who files for divorce to prove the circumstances exist. For example, if you file for a divorce based on adultery, you must prove by testimony or other evidence that your spouse had an adulterous affair.

Equitable Distribution

Ohio is an “equitable distribution” state, which means the court distributes marital property between spouses in a fair and equitable manner, though not necessarily equal. Marital property is property acquired during the marriage, including retirement benefits, with the exception of certain property like that acquired by inheritance. After the court issues a decree of legal separation, property acquired by either spouse is considered their separate property and not typically divisible by the court in a later divorce proceeding. The court must consider certain factors before dividing property, including the duration of the marriage, tax consequences of property division, retirement benefits of the spouses, and any factor the court finds relevant.

Alimony

Whether you file for legal separation or divorce, an Ohio court can award reasonable alimony, also called spousal support. Spousal support is not based on a set formula that applies in all cases. Instead, judges make awards after considering several factors such as the length of the marriage, relative earning capacities of the spouses, retirement benefits of the spouses, and contribution each spouse made to the education, training or earning potential of the other spouse.