Can You File for Uncontested Divorce in Ohio?

Can You File for Uncontested Divorce in Ohio?
January 19, 2023

The first step to knowing whether you can file for uncontested divorce is to understand exactly what it is. Much as it sounds, uncontested divorce is a request for divorce that is either agreed upon by both spouses, or where one spouse has filed a complaint for divorce, and the other spouse has failed to respond. Having a divorce attorney on your team during any sort of divorce proceeding is always a safe bet.

What To Know About Uncontested Divorce

Sometimes an uncontested divorce refers to the situation in which an individual files for divorce with the court, papers are served to their spouse, and if no response is made within the prescribed time limit then the divorce is granted by default. In this case, whatever the requesting spouse has drafted as the divorce agreement will likely be in their own favor. The court may decide to change some parameters, but often grants the divorce “as is.” In other circumstances, both parties agree that a divorce is their preference, and they are in agreement regarding any applicable child custody, support, or asset division arrangements. 

Whichever circumstance a couple may find themselves in, there is one key detail that must be true: there cannot be as much as one point of disagreement or the divorce then enters the “contested” arena. Contested divorce is not a term we often use or hear because it is the norm where divorce is concerned. The reason that couples often find the need to go as far as a courtroom is due to unresolved grievances or opposing opinions on important matters. Even collaborative divorce requires some give-and-take discussion in order to settle on a plan that works for everyone.

How To File for an Uncontested Divorce in Ohio

First of all, before filing, at least one party needs to have been an Ohio resident for at least six months and needs to have lived in the county in which they are filing for at least 90 days. In the case that both parties agree that they would like to divorce, they will need to sign a petition for the dissolution of their marriage. That document is then submitted to their local county court. A separation agreement will need to lay out details about how the couple will continue to parent and care for any minor children. Financial information will be required as well, including details on alimony and any applicable property, asset, or debt division. This includes marital property and any property acquired before marriage. 

Once all relevant information is submitted to the court, the couple will need to attend a court-mandated hearing that will take place within 90 days from filing. The judge may ask questions or suggest changes, but once they approve the separation agreement and parenting plan they will officially end your marriage through a Final Decree of Divorce that both parties sign. In total, the uncontested divorce process takes just a few months.

Why Choose Uncontested Divorce?

We all know that divorce can bring out the worst in people. Hurt feelings and lingering negative emotions can easily get out of hand and create an ordeal that can scar those involved. This is especially the case for any minor children. While older children will still feel the loss, younger children are part of the negotiations, as far as physical and legal custody, support, and visitation are concerned. On the other hand, in an uncontested divorce, everything is agreed upon prior to filing. There is no long and drawn out court battle and the situation is not escalated. 

This lack of contention and conflict is undoubtedly a net positive. Working to collectively problem solve and come to an agreement is a great way to encourage and facilitate shared parenting in the family’s post-divorce life. An uncontested divorce will also unquestionably save both parties time and money, and reduce stress all around. All that said though, it isn’t always the best option.

Uncontested Divorce Versus Dissolution of Marriage

These two terms can easily be mistaken for each other, since both include spousal agreement and both aim to avoid a court battle. However they are different at their core. Dissolution of marriage is not technically a divorce, in legal terms, though it does end a marriage. While in any form of divorce a “fault” is generally required to be proven and attested to by a witness, dissolution can result from a couple simply growing apart and deciding that it would be best for them to end their relationship.

Some causes of fault in divorce cases might include adultery, extreme cruelty, gross neglect of duty, habitual drunkenness, imprisonment, or willful absence for at least one year. In dissolution cases, spouses are often still on amicable terms and neither party has done anything wrong, but they simply don’t care to be married any longer. Incompatibility is a claim that both spouses can attest to. They can also prove that they have lived apart for one year or more. 

Do You Need A Divorce Attorney for a Contested Divorce?

Even if you and your spouse agree that you would both prefer to end your marriage and you generally agree on how assets will be divided and children will be cared for, having a divorce attorney on board ensures that each individual’s rights are protected. This is why we would recommend that each spouse retains their own divorce attorney.

Having an expert legal authority on your side can be especially helpful if you and your spouse have vastly different income levels and you may require financial support post divorce. Childcare decisions can also be weighed in on. Oftentimes a couple may not be thinking long term when they decide on a divorce agreement, and a divorce attorney could shed light on matters they had not fully considered or included in their draft.

Beyond having an advocate on your side, hiring a divorce attorney also ensures that all legal steps are taken appropriately, that documents and settlements are drawn up correctly, and that everything is submitted to the court properly and on time. A third or fourth set of eyes can also help to uncover deceit or unintentional unfairness. Your divorce attorney can also answer any questions you may have along the way.

Work With the Divorce Attorneys at the Law Offices Of Cara L. Santosuosso, LLC

We understand that divorce is never easy, but that some cases can be less confrontational than others. If you and your spouse are looking to end your relationship with the least amount of turmoil and stress, we can help. Our team of attorneys specializes in family law and is dedicated to preserving parental rights and supporting children in the legal arena. Whether you need assistance with divorce and dissolution, collaborative divorce, matters of child custody and support, or any other of our services, please contact us to learn more and schedule your free initial consultation.