Northeast Ohio & Mentor
Divorce, Dissolution and Legal Separation
The termination of a marriage can be one of the hardest and most traumatic experiences you and your children will encounter. While a legal separation is an option, there are two ways, divorce or dissolution, to legally terminate a marriage.
In Ohio, the laws have provided for Legal Separation actions, which are generally seldom processed. The procedure is basically the same as in a divorce matter, except that neither party may remarry. Further, the law provides that if one party institutes a Legal Separation suit and the other party files for divorce, the court will only consider the case as a divorce matter and cannot enter Judgment of Legal Separation. A legal Separation involves a Separation Agreement defined under the section on Dissolution.
A Dissolution is a court proceeding that is used to terminate the marriage when both parties have agreed prior to the filing of the Complaint in the Domestic Relations Division of the Court of Common Pleas in the appropriate county. The parties’ agreement is documented in a Separation Agreement that is used to detail the distribution of the assets and debts of the marriage, address the matters of child and spousal support and set a parenting time schedule. A Dissolution is the quickest and least traumatic way to terminate a marriage.
A Divorce is a court proceeding used to terminate the marriage when the parties have not reached an agreement as to the matters of the distribution of the assets and debts of the marriage, child and spousal support and a parenting time schedule. Ohio is a “no-fault” divorce state. This means that a divorce can be completed without the assignation of fault if the parties reach a final settlement on all issues. If there is a dispute as to, property, spousal or child support, visitation, or custody, fault may become an active ingredient in resolving these issues.
A Divorce is initiated by one party by the filing of a Complaint for Divorce. The Complaint may be accompanied by Motions for interim relief such as visitation and child and spousal support. The other party must answer or respond to the Complaint for Divorce and any associated Motions in the time prescribed by the Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure and then the Court sets the Complaint and Motions for hearings as appropriate. During the process of the Divorce, the parties usually spend time defining the issues and trying to resolve them. During this time, the parties determine the net worth and general financial status of the family. The parties, through their attorneys, may request information from each other by using the procedures set forth to do so. The parties may hire professionals to assist in determining the issues and values of assets and liabilities. The parties may hire a mediator to assist in reaching an agreement on the issues prior to a trial.
If the parties can reach a settlement prior to trial on all or some of the issues, the parties will be asked to sign a property settlement form containing the provisions of the settlement, or they may be asked to approve the final Judgment. Further, the parties may be required to approve the settlement in Court, before the Judge, after it is placed on the record.
The Judgment Entry of Divorce is the most important document you will receive. After a settlement is reached and/or the case is tried, the Judgment of Divorce will be entered by the Court, as your final decree, granting you a divorce. It will also contain clauses dealing with such matters as alimony, custody, child support, visitation, insurance, dower rights, property settlement and other miscellaneous clauses. If a settlement has been reached, you must carefully read and examine this Judgment, and have your attorney explain it to you before you approve it.
Definition of Terms used in Dissolution and Divorce cases
Spousal Support is a sum of money usually paid by one spouse to another spouse for the support and maintenance of that spouse. Some factors considered by the Court when awarding alimony may include: the past relations and conduct of the parties; the length of the marriage; the ability of the parties to work; the source and amount of property awarded to the parties; the age of the parties; the ability of the parties to pay spousal support; the present living situation of the parties; the needs of the parties; the health of the parties; the prior standard of living of the parties; and whether either party is responsible for the support of the other. If the spouse obligated to pay spousal support does not pay the payment is usually enforced by seeking an Order to Show Cause.
Child support is a sum of money that one party is required to pay the other for the care and maintenance of the children of the marriage. Child support is always modifiable. Child support is usually ordered, until the minor child reaches the age of 18 years or graduates from high school, so long as the minor child regularly attends high school on a full-time basis with a reasonable expectation of completing sufficient credits to graduate from high school while residing on a full-time basis with the payee of support or at an institution, but in no case after the child reaches nineteen (19) years of age, or until further order of the Court. Enforcement of payments in instituted by an Order to Show Cause. The custodial parent is generally entitled to take the minor child or children as dependents for all tax purposes. The parties may agree that the non-custodial parent shall have this allowance and enter this agreement into the Judgment.
There is sole custody and shared parenting. The basis for determining child custody is “what is in the best interest of the child”. Child custody orders are always modifiable. The court will consider the time the child has lived in a stable environment and what is in the best interest of the child. It should be remembered that the child’s wishes, though an important factor, is just one factor to be considered when determining custody.
The Child Custody Act
The Child Custody Act defines many factors that are considered in determining custody of the minor children of a marriage. These factors are as follows: the love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child; the capacity and disposition of the parties involved to give the child love, affection, and guidance and continuation of the educating and raising of the child in its religion or creed, if any; the capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care and other remedial care recognized and permitted under the laws of this State; the length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity; the permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes; the moral fitness of the parties involved; the mental and physical health of the parties involved; the home, school, and community record of the child; the reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient age to express preference; the willingness and ability of each of the parents to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent; and any other factor considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute.
Shared parenting is always an option to resolve custody disputes in a divorce. Shared Parenting is defined as an order that the following is specified: that the child shall reside alternately for specific periods with each of the parents; that the parents shall share decision-making authority as to the important decisions affecting the welfare of the child; and that one parent is designated the residential parent for school attendance purposes. During the divorce process, either parent may request that the Court consider ordering Shared Parenting. The Court, in determining whether to make that order, shall consider the following factors: the same factors as to be considered for determining custody and whether the parents will be able to cooperate and generally agree concerning important decisions affecting the welfare of the child. Should the Court order Shared Parenting, the order can address these additional issues: a statement regarding when the child shall reside with each parent, or may provide that physical possession be shared by the parents in a manner to assure the child continuing contact with both parents and during the time the child resides with a parent, that parent shall decide all routine matters concerning the child.
Visitation is generally granted to the non-custodial parent. The Judgment may state that general visitations are granted and leave it up to the parties to decide the dates, or specific visitation hours and dates may be written into the Judgment. If long distance must be traveled to exercise this visitation, some arrangements can be made concerning the cost of same. Judgments of Divorce generally provide that the minor child may not be permanently removed from the jurisdiction of the Court without the Court’s prior approval. Visitation/Parenting Orders are modifiable upon a showing of a change in circumstances that would support a modification. If a parent does not comply with the visitation order the aggrieved parent may commence contempt of court action against the offending parent that can lead to a fine or jail term.
Contact Mentor Divorce Attorneys at Moseman Law Office, LLC
While divorce is usually a difficult time with many emotions, it is vital that you take care of all legal aspects of the situation at hand. At Moseman Law Office, LLC, we have seen some who fail to do so, and it has caused them to lose out on securing properties and privileges that has hurt them for years to come. We are experienced divorce attorneys and we sympathize with your situation, which is why we are committed to providing our clients with optimal answers to help them navigate through this difficult time. Contact us today and let us answer your questions and find the best solutions for your particular situation.
Moseman Law Office, LLC
Moseman Law Office, LLC is a full-service legal firm located in Mentor, Ohio, serving all of Northeast Ohio and providing personalized legal solutions to its clients.
Moseman Law Office, LLC
8500 Station St., Ste 210
Mentor, OH 44060
Phone: (440) 255-0832