What’s the difference between divorce and dissolution?

| Nov 21, 2014 | High-Asset Divorce |

In the state of Ohio, you can end your marriage in one of two ways: divorce or dissolution.


Under Ohio law, a divorce takes place when the parties cannot agree on issues such as division of marital assets or debts, child custody, child support, or spousal support. This process is adversarial in nature and may involve a judge making the final decisions. Both parties are typically represented by attorneys.

The divorce process generally follows these steps in Ohio:

  1. One party files a complaint for divorce along with a motion for restraining order and financial, health and custody affidavits with the court.
  2. The complaint for divorce and accompanying documents are formally served upon the other party.
  3. A hearing to obtain an interim or temporary order from court may take place to settle financial issues while the divorce is proceeding.
  4. Discovery is conducted to gather relevant information from the other party regarding the issues in the case.
  5. A pretrial conference is held during which the parties and their lawyers discuss the issues of the case with the judge.
  6. If settlement efforts fail, the case proceeds to trial (most cases settle before trial).

Marital Dissolution

On the other hand, a marital dissolution occurs when the parties are able to reach an agreement on all issues and enter a Separation agreement detailing the terms of their split. This process is non-adversarial in nature, but still requires court approval. The same attorney cannot represent both parties.

  1. Typically, the marital dissolution process generally follows these steps in Ohio:
  2. The parties draft a Separation Agreement addressing all of the issues to their divorce.
  3. The parties together file a Petition for Dissolution, a Separation Agreement (and a Shared Parenting Plan, if applicable) as well as other notarized affidavits with the court.
  4. A final dissolution hearing is scheduled and the parties must live separate and apart for at least 30 days immediately before the hearing.
  5. The final hearing takes place and the judge asks both parties if they agree to the terms of the Separation Agreement (and Shared Parenting Plan, if applicable).  
  6. If one or both parties disagree to the terms, the judge dismisses the Petition and an action for divorce will have to be filed (see above).

More detail is provided about both processes on our website here.


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