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Ohio Divorce Laws


Divorce is an unfortunate reality of life, as many marriages simply don’t stand the test of time. Financial issues following a divorce doesn’t have to be the reality, though. To avoid money problems, be sure to get familiar with the laws procedures in your state. Once you feel like you understand things, set aside a bit of time before the divorce process really kicks off so you can plan your moves. This guide covers the laws in Ohio and makes sure every Buckeye State resident knows what they’re in for as their divorce moves forward. A financial advisor could also be a helpful partner during your divorce.

How to File for Divorce in Ohio


To be eligible for a divorce in Ohio, at least one spouse must have lived in the state for no less than six months. One spouse must also have lived in the county in which the divorce is being filed for at least 90 days.

Grounds for a Divorce in Ohio

Ohio has both no-fault and fault-based divorces. A no-fault divorce is far more common and has two legal grounds: living apart for at least a year and incompatibility. Fault-based divorces are very rare in Ohio, but the acceptable grounds include: adultery, failing to provide financial support, bigamy, willful absence for a year, extreme cruelty, a fraudulent contract, habitual drunkenness and a prison sentence.

Process to Divorce

The first step for a divorce in Ohio is to fill out the various required forms, including a divorce complaint, also known as a petition for dissolution, and file them with the court. If you have children you’ll also need to file an affidavit about their residence and health insurance.

If both spouses agree to the divorce and its terms surrounding all relevant issues, they can file together for a dissolution of marriage. This requires an agreement be prepared in advance and presented to the judge, who reviews and approaches it. If both spouses can’t attend a final hearing — because one is deployed with the armed services, for instance — a dissolution of marriage isn’t available, but an uncontested divorce can be used.

If the two parties don’t agree to terms, though, they’ll need a contested divorce. After filing, the other is served with papers and responds to the court. From there, there is a discovery process where there are financial disclosures, the gathering of evidence and witness interviews.

Keep in mind that Ohio is an equitable distribution state. That means that the division of marital assets takes into account the divorcing couple’s assets and debts, as wellas their needs, financial contributions to the marriage and how long they were married. It also considers future employability and earning power, as well as spending and saving habits. In this manner, it aims to divide assets equitably, but not necessarily evenly.

During this process, the two sides will try to come to a settlement agreement, possibly with the help of a mediator. If a settlement agreement can’t be reached, though, a trial will be scheduled where the judge will hear from witnesses and review evidence. After that is over, the judge will make a ruling on all relevant matters.

How to Split Up Assets During a Divorce in Ohio

Any property acquired during the marriage, including pension assets, is considered marital property for the purpose of an Ohio divorce. The only exception is anything that one spouse receives as a gift or inheritance, which is considered separate property and is not subject to the divorce ruling. Any property obtained before the marriage is also considered separate property.

How to Divide Property in Ohio After a Divorce

The court can consider various factors when dividing property after a divorce in Ohio. These include the length of the marriage, each spouses’ assets, custody of children, liquidity of property, tax consequences, retirement benefits and anything else the court deems relevant.

How to Manage Child Support and Alimony Under Ohio Divorce Laws

SmartAsset: Ohio Divorce Laws

There are specific guidelines to managing child support in Ohio. Generally, only a parent who is noncustodial (meaning the child does not live with them) will pay child support, as it is assumed the custodial parent is directly spending money to raise the child. The exact payments are based on how much money each parent makes and the total needed to raise the child.

The term “alimony” is no longer used in Ohio, having been replaced by “spousal support.” Spousal support can be ordered temporarily during a divorce trial to maintain the status quo. It can also be ordered to be paid after the divorce is finalized.

There is no strict formula to determine support payments, instead using myriad factors to determine payments including the following:

  • Income
  • Earning ability
  • Ages and health
  • Retirement benefits
  • Duration of marriage
  • Child care obligations
  • Education
  • Assets and debts
  • Contribution of each to the other spouses’ education and earning ability
  • Tax consequences
  • Any lost earning capacity caused by the marriage

401(k) and IRA and Divorce in Ohio

A divorce may involve division of a 401(k) or other retirement savings plan as part of the settlement. Remember, any money put into the account during your marriage is considered marital property, and as such the judge may order that some of the money in the account be transferred to the other spouse.

If this is the case, a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) will be issued. This allows the withdrawals to be made without incurring the penalties that normally accompany an early withdrawal. The money withdrawn can be given directly to the relevant spouse, but this means it will be subject to regular income tax. It can also be rolled over into a new retirement plan.

If the account being divided is an individual retirement account (IRA), the procedure is a bit different. There is no QDRO. However, the judge’s ruling will give explicit instructions about what should happen to any funds being transferred.

Divorce and Estate Planning in Ohio

SmartAsset: Ohio Divorce Laws

If you and your spouse had an estate plan while you were married, it’s time to revisit it. That’s because while married, your assets likely would have transferred to your ex-spouse if you were to die.

You’ll want to name new beneficiaries in your will and set up trusts if you want to pass assets on to any minor children. Also, check the designated inheritor on all of your financial accounts, including any retirement accounts. Also, check in with your ex about plans for your kids if both of you die. You may have had a plan while married, but make sure it still works for everyone.

Bottom Line

Ohio has both fault and no-fault divorces. A dissolution of marriage is a simple option the state gives if both spouses agree on terms for the divorce. If not, there can be a mediation and, if needed, a trial to figure out the answers to each of the important questions that arise.

Divorce Financial Planning Tips

  • A financial advisor can help you create a financial plan for your needs and goals, regardless of marital status. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • Getting divorced may mean you need to find a new place to live. Think about whether you want to rent or buy now that you’re on your own. This is an especially important decision if you have kids that will be living with you part- or full-time.

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