Basic information about divorce in Ohio.
What are the residency requirements for divorce in Ohio?
The judge can grant you a divorce in Ohio if you have been a resident of Ohio for at least six months before filing for divorce. The judge can also grant a divorce if your spouse files for divorce, and s/he has been a resident of Ohio for at least six months. It does not matter if your marriage or the cause of your divorce happened in Ohio or outside of Ohio.*
* OH ST § 3105.03
What are the grounds for divorce in Ohio?
Grounds are legally acceptable reasons for divorce. A judge can grant you a divorce if your spouse:
- was already married when s/he married you;
- abandons you for one year;
- cheats on you (adultery);
- treats you with extreme cruelty;*
- enters into marriage with you under fraudulent circumstances;**
- “grossly neglects” his/her duties within the marriage;
- is habitually drunk;
- is imprisoned in a state or federal correctional institution at the time you file for divorce;
- gets divorced outside the state without your involvement;***
- lives separate and apart from you for a year; or
- agrees with you that you are not a compatible couple.*
* OH ST § 3105.01
** OH ST § 3105.01; see also Basickas v. Basickas, 114 N.E.2d 270 (OH App. 1953)
*** OH ST § 3105.01; see also Rousculp v. Rousculp, 244 N.E.2d 512 (OH App. 1968)
Can I get alimony?
Alimony (also called spousal support or maintenance) is financial support paid by or to your spouse and can be awarded when a divorce is granted. Alimony will stop if either party dies, unless the alimony order says otherwise. To decide the amount of alimony and for how long alimony will be paid, a judge will consider your and your spouse’s:
- earning capacity;
- age, physical, mental, and emotional condition;
- retirement benefits;
- length of marriage;
- ability to have a job outside of the home due to custody of a minor child from the marriage;
- standard of living during the marriage;
- assets and liabilities, including any court-ordered payments;
- contribution to the education, training, or increased earning capacity of the other spouse, including any contribution to helping the other get a professional degree;
- education, training, or job experience to get an appropriate job and the amount of time and money you (the spouse asking for support) would need to get the necessary education, training, or experience;
- tax consequences; and
- lost income or earning capacity because of marital responsibilities, such as staying at home or caring for minor children.*
Note: The judge can also consider any other factors that the judge thinks are important to make a decision.*
The judge will assume that both you and your spouse contributed the same amount to any marital income.**
* OH ST § 3105.18(C)(1)
** OH ST § 3105.18(C)(2)
Can my alimony award be changed?
The judge can change your alimony payments if there is:
- a change of circumstances for either you or your spouse; and
- your divorce decree or separation agreement has a portion that allows a future judge to modify (change) your alimony payments.
A change of circumstances could mean an increase or an involuntary decrease in you or your spouse’s wages, salary, bonuses, living expenses, or medical expenses. The change in circumstances must be:
- make the alimony award unreasonable or inappropriate; and
- something that wasn’t considered by you and your spouse or by the judge when the original alimony award was issued.
The judge will enforce any voluntary agreement between you and your spouse about modifying spousal support.*
* OH ST § 3105.18(D)-(F)
What are the basic steps for filing for divorce?
While divorce laws vary by state, here are the basic steps that a person may have to follow to obtain a divorce:
- First, you or your spouse must meet the residency requirements of the state you want to file in.
- Second, you must have “grounds” (a legally acceptable reason) to end your marriage.
- Third, you must file the appropriate divorce papers and have copies sent to your spouse - for the exact rules for serving the papers, contact your local courthouse or an attorney.
- Fourth, if your spouse disagrees with anything in the divorce papers, then s/he will have the opportunity to file papers telling her/his side. In his/her response, the other party may express his/her opinion challenging the divorce, asking that it be granted under different grounds or letting the judge know that s/he agrees to the divorce. If your spouse contests the divorce, then you may have a series of court appearances to sort the issues out. Also, if a certain period of time passes and your spouse does not sign the papers or file any papers of his/her own, you may be able to proceed with the divorce as an uncontested divorce anyway. (Speak to a lawyer in your state about how long you have to wait to see if your spouse answers before you can continue with the divorce.)
- Fifth, if there are property, assets, a pension, debts, or anything else that you need divided, or if you need financial support from your spouse, then these issues may have to be dealt with during the divorce or else you may lose your chance to deal with these issues. The issues may be worked out during settlement negotiations and incorporated into the divorce decree or in a series of court hearings during the divorce. Custody and child support may also be decided as part of your divorce.
Where can I find additional information about divorce in Ohio?
Ohio State Bar Association has basic information on divorce (including information on spousal support), dissolution, and separation.
Community Legal Aid Services has a brochure about divorce, which discusses residency requirements and grounds for divorce in Ohio.
The Supreme Court of Ohio & Ohio Judicial System provides the following resources:
- court forms you may need if you are seeking divorce and do not have children; and
- court forms you may need if you are seeking divorce and have children.
WomensLaw.org is unrelated to the above organizations and cannot vouch for the accuracy of their sites. We provide these links for your information only.