Family and Safety

Getting a divorce with children

To get a divorce, you will need to fill out a number of court forms and file them with your clerk of court. This process is even more complicated when you have children. This page will help you understand what to fill out, what you should think through and provide the paperwork you will need to file.

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Understanding the Basics

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To get a divorce in Ohio, you will need to file a set of forms and then go through the divorce hearing process. The whole divorce process takes at least 4 months and up to 2 years when there are children involved. This page will help you file the forms you need to get the process started. Learn more about the process for a divorce in Ohio.  

However, divorce isn’t the only way to end your marriage. If you feel that you and your spouse are able to agree on everything, including everything about raising your children and how to divide money and debt, you can consider filing for dissolution instead.

If you’re in an abusive relationship, you should think through the best way to keep yourself safe while filing. Find a lawyer to help you. You can find organizations that can connect you with a lawyer or other legal help on this page under "Legal Help and Lawyers." You may even qualify for legal aid.

Learn more about divorce and domestic violence and how to keep you and your children safe.  

Who can file for divorce in Ohio?

To file, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You or your spouse must have lived in Ohio for at least 6 months.
  • You or your spouse must have lived in the county where you are filing for at least 90 days. Learn more about deciding what county to file in.
  • If you or your spouse are pregnant, you can't finalize the divorce until the baby is born.

You do not have to be legally separated before getting divorced.

Think through what you need

Before you file, you need to gather information and make some decisions. 

  • Decide if you need a lawyer. A lawyer can help make decisions, file the paperwork and speak for you in court. If you and your spouse disagree on custody issues, a lawyer can be very helpful. It's also particularly important to get a lawyer if you have experienced domestic violence, or if the divorce could impact your immigration status.
  • Gather and understand your financials. You will need details on your incomes, debts and assets. "Getting organized for your divorce or dissolution" provides an overview of the information you will need. Since you are swearing that all your responses are true, you want to make sure they are both complete and correct.
  • Consider your short-term needs. A divorce with children can take up to 2 years. To make sure you have what you need in the meantime, you can request “temporary orders.” These can include requests for custody and visitation, child supportspousal support (sometimes called “alimony”) and requests to split property or for your spouse to pay certain bills.  
  • Decide on the “grounds” (or reason) for divorce. Most people use “incompatibility,” but there may be reasons to use others
  • Consider your tax requests. It's also important to think through which parent can say the child is their "dependent" for tax and other purposes. This has a number of important impacts. Having another "member of your household" from a legal perspective can mean decreases to your taxes. You could gain access to more low-cost health care options for yourself as well as for your child. You could also gain increased benefits from programs like SNAP.

Filling out and filing the paperwork

On this site, you'll find a Divorce with Children Form Assistant that will help create a packet of the blank forms you need. It will ask you some questions, which you can answer on any phone or computer. You will need to be able to email the blank forms to yourself, or save them to a computer. The blank forms can only be filled out on a computer. They can take several hours to complete. 

Once your forms are complete, do not sign them yet. Take them to a notary and sign the forms in front of them. Make copies of the notarized forms and take them to the clerk of court. Ask the clerk to file the forms. The clerk may help you ensure your paperwork is complete, if you ask politely and they have time. They will not be able to help you with the information in the forms. 

If you have a low income and can’t afford the filing fee, you can use the Poverty Affidavit Form Assistant to create an additional form to file with your packet of documents. This form asks that you be allowed to file without paying a fee upfront. You may still be responsible for paying the fee at the end of the case.

Local Government and Community Resources

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