Columbus Divorce and Dissolution Lawyers
Marriage dissolution process
A dissolution is a non-adversary proceeding where the parties voluntarily enter into an agreement resolving property division, custody, child support and spousal support issues. The following procedures are generally followed when filing for a dissolution of marriage.
- A dissolution is commenced when the husband and wife file a Petition for Dissolution and a Separation Agreement with the domestic relations court in the county where they reside.
- The Separation Agreement must contain a division of all marital assets and debts; an agreement as to custody and parenting time; child support; and, spousal support, if applicable.
- If the parties agree that shared parenting is in the best interests of their children, a Shared Parenting Plan allocating parental rights and responsibilities, and setting forth child support must also be filed with the Petition and Separation Agreement.
- Accompanying the Petition and Separation Agreement, the parties must also file notarized financial affidavits fully disclosing the assets and liabilities of each party, a health insurance disclosure affidavit and, a custody affidavit if there are children born during the marriage.
- Once the Petition for Dissolution and its accompanying documents are filed, the final dissolution hearing will be scheduled within 30 to 90 days. The husband and wife must live separate and apart for at least 30 days immediately prior to this final hearing.
- At the final dissolution hearing, the judge will ask each party if the Separation Agreement (and Shared Parenting Plan, if applicable) filed with the Petition for Dissolution conforms to their intent, fully discloses all marital assets and liabilities and, provides for the best interest of the children of the marriage. The court will request that each party affirm that he/she wishes the court to dissolve the marriage under the terms set forth in the Separation Agreement. If either party states that the Agreement is unsatisfactory, the judge will dismiss the Petition and an action for divorce will then have to be initiated.
- Problems and ethical issues may arise where the same attorney acts as legal counsel for both parties in a dissolution. For this reason, the policy of Mowery Youell & Galeano, Ltd. is to represent only one party in a dissolution proceeding. The other party may seek advice from his/her own legal counsel or he/she may choose to proceed without legal counsel. Should the other party elect to proceed without legal counsel, Mowery Youell & Galeano, Ltd. can meet with and negotiate with the unrepresented party.
By contrast, a divorce action is an adversary proceeding initiated when the parties cannot agree upon the issues regarding the termination of their marriage. The court has broad discretionary powers to deal with matters that arise during the pendency of a divorce action. Initially, the court may restrain the parties from disposing of assets before a final settlement or a spouse considered violent might be ordered to vacate the family home.
The following are the general procedures involved in a divorce.
- A divorce is initiated by filing a complaint for divorce, motion for restraining order and financial, health and custody affidavits with the domestic relations court in the county in which you reside.
- The motion for restraining order is granted as a matter of course and will restrain the other party from, among other things, disposing of assets, incurring debt, harassing behavior, and permanently removing the minor children from the state.
- Once filed with the court, the complaint for divorce and accompanying documents are served upon the adverse party, usually by process server. The adverse party has 28 days within which to file an Answer or otherwise enter an appearance in the action.
- In addition to filing the complaint, restraining orders and affidavits, we may also file a motion requesting a hearing to obtain an interim or temporary order from court to allocate payment of debts and expenses, award spousal support, allocate custody and parenting time of the children and/or to order child support during the pendency of the divorce action. These temporary orders are effective only until the court grants a divorce, after which the matters previously subject to the temporary orders will be governed by the terms of the divorce decree.
- The motion for these temporary orders is scheduled for a non-oral hearing where each party submits affidavits supporting his/her arguments. The court then issues its temporary orders between 30-90 days after submission of the affidavits.
- If there are no children, your case may be docketed for a final divorce hearing 42 days after your spouse is served with a summons, complaint for divorce and accompanying paperwork. However, if your spouse files an answer contesting the divorce, your case will be scheduled for final hearing by the Assignment Commissioner's Office approximately 6 to 9 months after the initial Complaint was filed.
- As your contested divorce proceeds, we will conduct discovery to obtain relevant information regarding the issues in your case. Discovery can include scheduling depositions; retaining experts for asset valuations, vocational assessments and psychological evaluations; and, serving requests for production of documents and interrogatories on the adverse party. All this is to prepare the case for trial, but a good job of preparation can also lead to a negotiated settlement, which is most often preferred to taking the case to trial.
- After an answer has been filed by the adverse party, the court will schedule your case for a pretrial conference. At the pretrial conference, the parties and their counsel appear before the Judge and discuss the issues of the case, as well as the steps that are necessary in order to prepare the case for trial. During the pretrial conference, the Judge may offer assistance to resolve outstanding issues.
- Most divorce cases do resolve themselves by agreement; however, should the case proceed to trial, the trial itself will likely occur 9 to 18 months after the date of the filing for the divorce. The timing of the trial will depend upon the county in which you file the complaint.
For more information, contact an attorney at our firm. From our office in Dublin, we represent clients in divorce cases involving complex property division and support issues throughout the Columbus metro area and central Ohio.