If you want to end your marriage and you and your spouse can agree completely about how to split things up, you can think about filing for dissolution instead of divorce.
When a couple files for dissolution, they work together to ask the court to agree with their plan to end their marriage. You will have to fill out a lot of forms and go to court--but dissolution only takes 30 to 90 days from the time you file until your marriage ends. That is likely less time than it will take to get a divorce.
If you and your spouse start to disagree about any issue at any point in the process, though, you will have to get a divorce instead. Depending on your county, this could mean starting the process over with a divorce, or asking the court to convert your dissolution into a divorce.
If you have been hurt or abused by your spouse, do not file for a dissolution. You should file for a divorce instead. Contact a lawyer for help with the divorce process, or call the Ohio Domestic Violence Network at 1-800-934-9840. See more information about what to do if you have been hurt or abused.
Talk with your spouse
Sit down with your spouse to talk about how you want things to be after your marriage ends. Make a list of what you need to decide, including:
- How you will divide up property and share responsibility for debt you have together
- If you or your spouse will pay spousal support to the other
- Who will have custody of your children, and how much time the other will be able to spend with them
- If one of you will pay child support to the other
If you both agree on the answers to all of these questions, you will file together for dissolution.
If you can't agree on those questions, you need to file for a divorce instead, and the court will help decide what's fair.
Fill out the forms
Go to filing for a dissolution to get the forms that you will need to fill out and details about how to file them. Fill out the forms together with your spouse. You will need to figure out details, like specific amounts of money or schedules for custody. You will have more forms to fill out if you have children together.
Bring the forms to court
File the forms by bringing them to your local Domestic Relations Court and giving them to the Clerk of Court's office. Clerk staff will schedule your hearing for 30 to 90 days after you file. There will be a fee when you file. If you have a low income, check your court's website for a form called "Affidavit of Poverty" to ask the court to let you file without paying fees upfront. You may still be responsible for the fees at the end of the case.
Attend the hearing together
You and your spouse must both go to the hearing. The judge will ask you and your spouse questions about the agreements you filed to make sure neither of you have changed your mind about anything. If you or your spouse disagree at the hearing, the judge may ask you to start the process over with a new dissolution or divorce, or change your current case into a divorce.
It is the judge’s job to make sure you and your spouse are both willing to end your marriage through the terms of your dissolution agreements, and neither of you is being forced. If the judge agrees that the agreement is fair to both of you, he or she will submit a "judgement" to the Clerk of Court that legally ends your marriage.