Answering Your Family Law Questions

Q. What Is The Difference Between A Divorce And A Dissolution?

A divorce is more like a traditional lawsuit in which one party sues the other, citing specific grounds for the divorce. It is an adversarial process that typically involves more time and expense than a dissolution, ultimately ending with a court ordered termination of the marriage based upon the court finding that certain grounds for the divorce exist. A dissolution is generally a more amicable process in which both the husband and wife agree to all property division, spousal support and, if there are minor children, custody and child support issues before the case is filed. Dissolutions are generally resolved much more quickly and with considerably less cost than divorces. Both divorce and dissolution result in the termination of the marriage.

Q. Do I Need A Legal Separation Before I Can File For Divorce/ Dissolution?

No. A legal separation is a not a prerequisite for filing a divorce or a dissolution. Rather, legal separation is a contract for married couples who wish to remain legally married but live apart while having a formal, legal arrangement in writing for the support and maintenance of a spouse and the children, a visitation plan, and perhaps continuation of health coverage. Traditionally, couples sought legal separation for religious reasons.

Q. Once I Have A Legal Separation, Am I Still Required To File For Divorce/ Dissolution If I Decide I No Longer Want To Be Married?

Yes. It is a popular misconception that a legal separation eliminates the need for filing for divorce or dissolution should you and your spouse ultimately decide to end the marriage. If you have obtained a legal separation through the domestic relations court and you choose to terminate your marriage for good, you are still required to file for divorce or dissolution.

Q. How Much Spousal Support Will I Have To Pay?

In Ohio, spousal support is calculated based on a list of factors, including but not limited to the income of the parties, the relative earning capacities of the parties, the ages and health of the parties, the parties’ available retirement benefits, the length of the marriage, etc. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement regarding spousal support, the court will examine these factors on a case by case basis to determine what constitutes a fair and reasonable amount and duration for spousal support. Because, unlike child support, there is no mathematical formula for calculating spousal support, this area of property distribution in a divorce can become a hotly contested area. It is important to consult with an attorney who will assess your case fairly and accurately and work with you to preserve a balanced relationship with the other side, especially when minor children are involved.

Q. I Have A Child But Was Never Married To The Child’s Mother. How Do I Get Visitation Rights?

The first step is to establish paternity, which is accomplished in the juvenile court. Once paternity is established, it is a relatively straightforward process to obtain visitation rights and create a parenting agreement.