Ohio couples can choose an uncontested divorce, called a dissolution, in which they agree to the divorce and on all major issues. However, if spouses cannot agree on one or more issues, they will enter into a contested divorce instead. In Ohio, dissolution and divorce have different procedures, but both result in the termination of a marriage.
Dissolutions are based on Ohio’s no-fault grounds, which are incompatibility and separation of one year or more. Generally, fault grounds are not appropriate for a dissolution proceeding since dissolution requires the spouses to file their case jointly, agreeing on all terms of the divorce, including grounds. Spouses do not have to allege both incompatibility and a one-year separation to file for dissolution since these are two separate no-fault grounds nor does either spouse have to prove the other spouse’s misconduct.
When spouses cannot agree on one or more issues, Ohio law provides a more complicated procedure for divorce. Divorces can be filed using either of Ohio’s no-fault grounds or any of Ohio’s fault grounds, such a adultery, gross neglect, extreme cruelty, habitual drunkenness or abandonment. Typically, divorces involve litigation regarding the terms of the divorce, such as property division or child custody, because the spouses cannot settle the issues between them. However, if they reach an agreement after the divorce is filed, they can convert the divorce into a dissolution proceeding.
When spouses file dissolution paperwork, called a joint petition for dissolution, they must simultaneously submit a signed separation agreement that resolves every issue of the marriage. This includes property and debt division, spousal support and child custody. If spouses cannot agree on all of these issues, they must file for divorce instead since their case is no longer uncontested. They can still use no-fault grounds, even if they have not reached a separation agreement.
Since dissolution is essentially a shortened and simplified divorce procedure, spouses must waive some procedural divorce steps when they opt for a dissolution. For example, there are no temporary orders in a dissolution. In contrast, courts can issue temporary orders in a divorce case, including awards of spousal support or child custody until the divorce is final. In a dissolution, both spouses must appear at the final hearing or the court may dismiss the case.