Dagger Law Divorce and Dissolution Lawyers realize that the decision to end a marriage is a life-changing and challenging event.
The factors that contribute to deciding to pursue a divorce are often emotional, complex, and personal. As an experienced legal team, we strive to ensure that your divorce, or dissolution of marriage, is handled respectfully and efficiently. Consequently, our effective legal team allows clients to process the changes and move on to the next chapter in their lives. Dagger Law firm’s divorce attorneys in Lancaster, Ohio, focus on divorce and Dissolution matters. This focus ensures that your divorce lawyer handles cases that bring a wealth of experience to represent their client’s best interests.
Below are some commonly asked questions that can help you determine whether Divorce or Dissolution is right for you.
Q: What is the difference between a divorce and a dissolution?
A: Both a Divorce and a Dissolution result in the legal ending of a marriage. A dissolution essentially ends the marriage at no fault of either party. In this case, the cause 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. The claimed faults fall under one of several grounds for divorce in Ohio. Most often, these include (but are not limited to):
- Willful absence for greater than one year
- Extreme cruelty
- Habitual drunkenness
- Gross neglect of duty
- Fraudulent contract
- Imprisonment in a state or federal institution
Some of those terms can be confusing, such as “extreme cruelty” or even “habitual drunkenness.” Ohio laws provide specific ways to measure whether a circumstance meets the definition of grounds for divorce. As a result, Clarifying the divorce’s legal cause is one way our divorce attorneys are a valuable asset to clients.
A divorce can be 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).
A Dissolution of marriage can save both time and money.
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. These issues include, but may not be limited to:
- Designation of the residential parent and custody arrangements for any children
- Visitation agreements and shared parenting time that is in the best interest of any children
- Spousal support
- Payment of debts
- Division of property and assets
- Child support
- Parental rights
- Payment of attorney fees
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. You may hear dissolutions referred to as “no-fault divorces.”
Q: How much will a Divorce or Dissolution cost?
A: This answer can vary significantly. However, you should know that you, and your partner in the marriage, are in control of this cost. As discussed above, a Dissolution can reduce legal costs if both parties are willing to work quickly to agree on the issues listed above. Children always add to the cost of ending a marriage as the courts ensure that adequate protections are in place to ensure that children are taken care of, which requires additional work by your attorney.
Couples with more marital assets will also likely incur a higher cost. Of course, it can take more time to evaluate and determine a value for those assets. You can visualize the difference between the time it takes to inventory the belongings in a one-bedroom apartment compared to someone with multiple homes. Again, clients can minimize all of these costs associated with property division. By agreeing on issues and being willing to cooperate, you can avoid spending unnecessary time and money. At a minimum, you should assume that you need around $2000 or more for a retainer.
According to Martindale-Nolo Research’s research in 2015, an Ohio divorce’s average cost would be about $12,500 and typically range from $4000 to $27,000.
In this same study, Martindale-Nolo found that a divorce with children costs around $18,800. This additional cost stems from court-mandated protection and advocacy for the children. These protections ensure that they do not become victims of a divorce. Further work is needed to correctly calculate child support and set agreed-upon child custody and parenting time.
In cases where alimony is in dispute, divorce cases cost about $13,400 if the spouses can settle the matter out of court. Common disagreements involve a spouse’s earning potential or whether their reported earnings are factual. If an alimony dispute goes to trial, the average divorce cost skyrockets to $26,200! These rising costs demonstrate why we encourage amicable divorce and dissolution processes.
Suppose there are additional factors, such as the need to represent a client in a criminal defense matter. Criminal charges could come from not following court guidance regarding protection orders or cases of physical abuse. In that case, you should expect the cost to climb even higher.
Q: Why do you ask for a retainer?
A: Retainer fees are collected so that our attorneys have an operating fund with which to represent you. Some legal proceedings can take a long time. In this case, you don’t want to drag out that process by waiting for money to pay for necessary expenses associated with your legal matter. We use retainer funds to cover items like filing fees, paying your attorney to write motions for your case, or even covering the cost of complex legal research.
Our divorce attorneys believe in being good stewards of your resources. Because of this, we keep records of how we spend our time on your family law issue so that you can be confident that we allocate your money wisely. While it doesn’t often happen, we will refund the unused portion should your lawyer complete your case without using all of your retainer fees. It is more usual that divorce cases cost more than the original retainer. If this is the case, your attorney may ask you to pay an additional retainer, or we will provide you with a billing statement on a month-to-month basis.
Q: How can I pay for my Divorce or Dissolution?
A: We are sympathetic to the fact that a Divorce or Dissolution can be expensive. Indeed, we understand this and try to be flexible in how we accept payment. You can pay by cash, check, money orders, all major credit cards, and our law firm will make arrangements for a payment plan in some unique situations. Many lenders offer loans to cover legal fees, or you may want to consider borrowing money from a family member or friend.
Q: Does hiring the best divorce attorney require that I will pay more?
A: Terms like “best attorney” are subjective. How would anyone judge that? Is there a contest for lawyers? Getting the best attorney is finding the one who can do the job effectively and efficiently. Using the right attorney for the complexity of the divorce saves you both time and money. Nobody wants to be stuck going through a divorce for over six months, let alone years. While the client controls many factors that contribute to increased cost and lengthy duration, your lawyer also plays a role. Experience can allow an attorney to quickly move past the research and planning phase into taking action.
At Dagger Law, we are proud to have an Ohio State Bar Association Certified Specialist. Whether your divorce or dissolution is complicated or straightforward, our legal team can still offer the same efficient and effective representation, and that saves you money and time in the long run.
Q: What is a Legal Separation in Ohio?
A: Legal separations do not legally end a marriage. However, they allow a court to issue orders regarding division of property, spousal support or alimony, visitation, and support for minor children. So, why go through all this trouble to stay married?
Those legally separated spouses can still take advantage of some benefits of marriage. Benefits include medical coverage, joint tax returns, and even living under the same roof. While that seems like the kind of situation most people want out of, there may also be considerations for children involved. It is an option that we can help with, should a client wish to explore it. Please note that there are some residency requirements associated with filing for a legal separation in Ohio.
There is no legal provision for a trial separation or two people simply saying they are separated. However, your attorney can help clarify your intentions and draft a suitable agreement based on your goals. A separation agreement, being a contract between two individuals who wish to separate, may have some legal and binding power as a contract, however. As with any other contract, we encourage our clients to understand what they are getting into if they pursue this course of action.
Q: What is an Annulment?
A: Most people know and understand divorce as the end of a marriage, whether the marriage lasted two years or twenty. An annulment is like a divorce, except an annulment is when the court declares that the marriage never existed and was void when the couple entered the union. As a comparison, it is like getting something on your record sealed or deleted as if it never happened. However, one cannot just decide to get an annulment rather than a divorce because they wish the marriage never happened.
The state of Ohio grants annulments based on six grounds or reasons. You can find these grounds for annulment in the Ohio Revised Code section 3105.31(A)-(F).
The first grounds for annulment are where the party seeking to have the marriage annulled was underage at the time of the marriage.
However, once that person becomes of age, if they cohabited with the spouse as husband or wife, they may no longer annul the marriage because they have now ratified it. An example of this would be A and B get married when A is 15 years old and B is 25 years old. A can seek to annul the marriage until A reaches legal age and cohabits with B as husband or wife.
Second, if a previous spouse of either party was living at the time of the new marriage, that previous marriage was then and still is in force.
An example of this would be A and B get married. However, B is technically still married to C (previous spouse) when B marries A because B and C were not divorced. A and B’s marriage would be void, and an annulment could result.
The third example of grounds for annulment is if either party was mentally incompetent at the time of the marriage.
However, suppose that person becomes competent, and they cohabit with the spouse as husband or wife. In that case, the marriage is not eligible for annulment. An example of this would be A and B get married while A is mentally incompetent. Annulment of the marriage could occur until A is found competent and A continues to cohabit with B as husband or wife.
The fourth grounds are where either party fraudulently obtained the consent to marry.
However, annulment of the marriage may not proceed if that party afterward, with full knowledge of the facts constituting the fraud, continued to cohabit with the spouse as husband or wife. An example of this would be that A fraudulently induces B to marry A. Marriage annulment is viable unless B learns of the fraud and continues to cohabit with A as husband or wife.
Fifth, an annulment may be granted if either party obtained the consent to marry through force.
As with the other examples, the annulment isn’t possible if the party continues to cohabit with the spouse as husband or wife. An example of this would be that A forces or threatens B to marry A. In this case, annulment of the marriage is possible unless B continues to cohabit with A as husband or wife.
Sixth, the state would grant an annulment if the parties never consummated the marriage.
Q: Will a divorce and dissolution attorney travel to me, or do I need to come to your offices in either Lancaster or Canal Winchester?
A: While some meetings will need to occur in our offices, we try to minimize your travel time. We offer two convenient office locations in Lancaster and Canal Winchester, Ohio. Our goal is to reduce the disruption to your life caused by legal issues and conduct most communications or meetings through emails or phone calls. We realize that clients can’t reach us in certain circumstances, and we may be required to visit your location.
Suppose you retain a Dagger Law attorney to represent you. In that case, they will travel to the necessary court hearings and legal procedures to represent you anywhere in Ohio! Please note that in some instances, the cost to represent your case may require an unusual amount of money due to travel expenses. In such cases, we may recommend using legal representation closer to the location of your case. We are happy to provide referrals in these instances if we are able.
We proudly serve the following communities throughout Central and Southeastern Ohio:
- Fairfield County
- Franklin County
- Hocking County
- Licking County
- Pickaway County
- Baltimore, Ohio
- Buckeye Lake
- Canal Winchester
- Greater Columbus Area
- Lancaster, Ohio
- Newark, Ohio
- other locations nearby
Check out the nearest location to you by clicking Our Locations Page.
How can I check the status of my Family Law and Domestic Relations matters?
First and foremost, we encourage you to communicate with your attorney, and their staff, for updates regarding your particular matter. Frequent conversations will provide you with the most recent and up-to-date information. Speaking frequently with your attorney will allow you to ask questions to understand your case’s progress. Regular contact will also provide opportunities to give them any new information that your attorney might need to know. If your question is about the status of filing or other necessary information, you can follow our step-by-step guide located here:
How to check the status of your domestic relations case by county
If you don’t see your particular issue listed above, that is no problem! We enjoy a challenge and are happy to assist you with the legal issue that you are facing. Use our convenient Contact Page to schedule an appointment to discuss your legal matter with an attorney.
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Norman J. Ogilvie, Jr, Of Counsel — Ohio State Bar Association Certified Specialist in Family Relations Law