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Terminating Marriage

Ohio residents have the option of terminating their marriage through dissolution (Ohio Revised Code §3105.61) which requires advance mutual agreement, or through divorce (Ohio Revised Code §3105.01) which may be contested or uncontested. In rare circumstances, parties may qualify for annulment of marriage (Ohio Revised Code §3105.31).

There are many aspects involved in terminating a marriage. The Court must divide the parties’ property and debts, and if appropriate, award spousal support (formerly “alimony”). If there are children, the Court must allocate parental rights and responsibilities and determine responsibility for child support and health care needs. It is the Court’s responsibility to ensure orders are made that require the parties to appropriately meet their legal duties toward family members, and may ask questions for that purpose.

In order to make a fair property distribution the parties must fully disclose the value of all assets no matter whose name they are in. This includes things like real estate, bank accounts, pension and profit sharing plans, pending insurance claims, lawsuit recoveries and personal property. The Court must also be informed of all outstanding debts. This includes mortgages, car loans, credit cards, department store and credit card charges, unpaid medical and hospital bills, and other bills. Property and debt are divided consistent with the guidelines set forth in Ohio Revised Code §3105.171.

The Court must also be informed about all sources of income. Both parties must reveal their income to each other and verify that income with documentation. This is necessary for the Court to fashion appropriate child and spousal support orders. Child support is established consistent with the Ohio Child Support Guidelines in Ohio Revised Code §3119.01-3119.24. Spousal support is determined according to the considerations set forth in Ohio Revised Code §3105.18.

When there are minor children, the Court must ensure there is a written plan as to how the parents will share parenting time as well as the duties and costs of raising the children. In cases where the parties have been successful in working together on parenting issues a “shared parenting” plan, providing for the sharing of decision making, may be appropriate. Alternatively, it may be in the child’s best interest if one parent is designated the residential parent and legal custodian and a specific parenting time schedule is created. Parenting determinations are guided by the best interest of the child and the legal considerations set forth in Ohio Revised Code §3109.04.