Ohio Divorce and Abandonment Laws

By Beverly Bird

Ohio law allows you to end your marriage by either divorce or dissolution. Dissolution generally involves an amicable parting of ways; a spouse files for dissolution on no-fault grounds, and the couple reaches a settlement on their own. Divorce requires a fault ground and court involvement to sort out issues such as property division, support and custody. If your spouse has abandoned you, this is a fault ground in Ohio.

Abandonment as a Divorce Ground

Ohio’s statutes call abandonment a “willful absence.” To qualify as grounds for divorce, your spouse must leave you against your wishes. If you agree to separate for a while, it’s not abandonment. He must also remain away continuously for at least a year. If he leaves for six months, returns for a month, then leaves again, the calendar begins all over again. You can’t add his second absence to his first absence to reach the twelve-month mark.

Support Issues

Waiting out the year to be able to file for divorce on grounds of willful absence can be problematic for some spouses. A household that enjoyed two incomes may now be reliant on the abandoned spouse’s income alone. Sustaining such a financial crunch can be difficult, especially if you have children to support. Ohio law offers an option. Unlike some states, Ohio recognizes legal separation. You can file a complaint for “separate maintenance” immediately, without waiting out the year. A separate maintenance complaint won’t divorce you or end your marriage; it's Ohio's version of a legal separation. But it will allow a judge to order your spouse to pay you temporary support and child support until you can legally file a complaint for divorce on abandonment grounds.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Other Options

You might also be able to file for divorce on a fault ground other than willful absence, one that doesn’t involve a waiting period. Ohio also offers a divorce ground known as “gross neglect of duty.” This could involve your spouse leaving you and refusing to help support you or the family. Ohio also has a ground called “extreme cruelty,” meaning that your spouse did something to cause you emotional harm, such as leaving you. Neither ground involves a technical waiting period. You might have to wait long enough to prove that your spouse hasn’t supported you or contributed financially to the family, but you should be able to accomplish this in less than a year’s time.


If your spouse has abandoned you but is still helping to support the family, and if you don’t want to go through a contentious divorce, you don't necessarily have to file for a divorce. You can use the dissolution option instead, also by waiting a year. One of Ohio’s no-fault grounds is a one-year separation. If your spouse is no longer living with you, you’d qualify. This might be a faster, easier option if you can settle issues of support, custody and property on your own without the court’s involvement.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Is There a Desertion Divorce Law in Mississippi?


Related articles

Abandonment Divorce Laws in Texas

The divorce laws in Texas can make it hard to justify filing on a fault ground, especially if it requires a waiting period. The state's legislative code includes several, however, and one of them is abandonment. Courts can consider marital fault when deciding issues of property, custody and spousal support, but they’re not always required to. There’s no guarantee that you’ll receive anything for your trouble, even if you can prove that your spouse walked out on you.

North Carolina Divorce Law and Abandonment

Far more that simply saying "I do," marriage consists of a bundle of rights and responsibilities. One important responsibility of a married couple is the duty of cohabitation, which means living together as husband and wife. When a party willfully quits cohabiting without cause, he commits abandonment. Although North Carolina is a no-fault divorce state, abandonment still carries a host of far-reaching implications.

Does the State of Florida Recognize "Abandonment" as a Reason for Divorce?

All states recognize no-fault divorce, but many states also allow spouses to file on fault grounds such as abandonment. This isn't the case in Florida. Even if your spouse leaves or abandons you with the intention of ending the marriage, you can only file for divorce by telling the court in your petition for dissolution that your marriage just isn't working out anymore. However, you may be able to bring the fact of your spouse's abandonment to the attention of the court in other ways.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Divorce Abandonment Law

On the surface, the concept of abandonment seems relatively simple. One spouse leaves the home and the marriage and ...

Divorce & Abandonment Laws in Georgia

Georgia does not technically recognize ”abandonment” as a divorce ground, but this doesn’t mean your spouse can leave ...

How to Obtain a Legal Separation if a Spouse Refuses to Leave in North Carolina

Unfortunately for some spouses in North Carolina, separation is often the only way they can obtain a divorce. The state ...

Tennessee Divorce After Desertion

Tennessee recognizes a total of 13 different fault grounds for divorce, some of them quite creative. The state also ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED