By Hannah Travis, Law Clerk
Ending a marriage is understandably difficult for anyone, especially when children are involved. But ending the union does not have to be legally complicated if the parties are amicable. Let us explore the difference between a dissolution and a divorce.
A dissolution essentially ends the marriage at no fault of either party. Instead, it may be a loss of love or a wish to go your separate ways. Divorce tends to be more fault-based, where one party commits an act causing the other spouse to want the marriage to end. Grounds for divorce include adultery, extreme cruelty, habitual drunkenness, gross neglect of duty, and others.
Dissolution of the marriage is usually a more manageable and less expensive way to end the marriage. Both parties must first reach an agreement on any potential issues. Such as who the designated parent will be if there are minor children of the marriage. Additionally, what the parental rights will be, what visitation will look like, and what child and spousal support the parties will be seeking.
Spouses must agree upon issues like these before filing a petition for dissolution with the court. Once filed, the court will schedule a hearing within the next 30 to 90 days. In this hearing, both parties will appear and testify to their satisfaction with the dissolution agreement. They will both fully disclose all assets and liabilities and voluntarily sign the dissolution agreement.
A divorce can be much more complicated and drawn out, especially when the parties are not on good terms. One party will begin the divorce proceeding by filing a “Complaint,” which will then be served on the other party notifying them of the wish to legally divorce. The other party will then respond with an “Answer.” There is also a discovery process that allows the parties to request answers or documents from each other.
A party may request temporary orders be granted by the court while the divorce is pending. Temporary orders would include things like child and spousal support. One reason for requesting temporary orders is that many spouses cannot separate while supporting themselves and the children, if there are any. Suppose one party moves out because the other spouse committed a fault. In that case, there could be a struggle to find housing or employment if the other spouse were making a substantial part of the household income. The temporary order would allow a spouse to temporarily receive support from the other until the court reaches a final ruling.
Hearings and further proceedings may occur during the entire divorce process. Professionals will determine property values and analyze financial information specific to the case. In Ohio, the parties will either settle or have a judge or magistrate hear the case (there are no jury trials).
In either case, it is always best to consult with an attorney to determine which route may be better for your situation. Additionally, the use of attorneys will help ensure that neither party takes advantage of the other and that the marriage gets divided fairly.