A Judge is an attorney who is elected by the people of a county. A Magistrate is an attorney who has been appointed by the court. Judges have the discretion to refer cases to their Magistrates in order to allow the Judges to handle a larger caseload in a more efficient manner. In an Ohio divorce, whether your case is heard by a Judge or a Magistrate can depend on the specific type of case, the county that you are in, or luck of the draw. In some Ohio counties, all domestic relations cases are heard by a Magistrate and the Judge hears only Objections. In other counties, a Magistrate may be assigned to hear a specific aspect of a case (ie. temporary support, post-decree issues, or domestic violence issues).
If your case is heard by a Magistrate, the decision of the Magistrate (either called a Magistrate’s Decision or a Magistrate’s Order, depending on the issue) will include a recommendation to the Judge as to what the final order should be. If you do not agree with the decision of the Magistrate, you can file an objection to the decision. If no objections are made or, after considering any objections that are made, the Judge then issues a Judgment Entry in the matter. If you disagree with a Judgment Entry, you can file an appeal with the court of appeals for that county. There are procedural and time requirements for filing both objections and appeals which must be followed.