What are the Grounds for Divorce in Ohio

In order to obtain an Ohio Divorce, the court must find that there are statutory grounds to terminate your marriage.  The grounds for divorce in Ohio are set forth in Ohio Revised Code §3105.01 and are divided into two (2) catagories:  Fault and No-Fault.

There are two (2) No-Fault grounds for divorce.  The first is incompatibility, which must be agreed upon by both parties.  The second is living separate and apart without cohabitation for more than one (1) year.

There are nine (9) Fault Grounds which are as follows: (1) bigamy (ie. if one spouse is legally married to another person at the time of the marriage between the parties) ; (2) willful absence from the marital residence for more than one year; (3) adultery; (4) extreme cruelty; (5) fraudulent conduct; (6) gross neglect of duty; (7) habitual drunkenness; (8) imprisonment of a spouse at the time of the filing of the complaint for divorce; and (9) one spouse obtaining an out-of-state divorce against the other spouse.

In most cases, parties to a divorce will agree on one of the two no-fault grounds.  In the event that one party does not agree to the no-fault grounds, a hearing must be held and the other party must prove one of the fault grounds.  Because of the subjective nature of some of the fault grounds (ie. extreme cruelty and gross neglect of duty), it is usually fairly easy to prove fault and objecting to the grounds for divorce only serves to make the divorce process more time-consuming and costly for both parties.  It is for this reason that, at least by the end of a case, both parties are typically in agreement regarding the grounds for divorce.  In my experience as a domestic relations attorney, I have had only two (2) cases in over ten (10) years in which a hearing had to be held on the grounds for divorce.  In both of those cases, the court determined that there were grounds and granted the divorces.

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The Difference between a Dissolution and a Divorce

As a Cleveland Divorce Attorney I have seen this confused many times by clients. This will help clear up the some of the common misconceptions.

Both a dissolution (not a “dissolutionment”) and a divorce terminate the marriage contract between a husband and a wife.  However, in a dissolution, the parties involved reach an agreement regarding all aspects of property division, parenting issues and support issues prior to filing a joint Petition with the Court to terminate the marriage.  In a divorce, one party files a Complaint with the Court requesting to terminate the marriage and the Court will then attempt to facilitate an agreement between the parties as to all of the relevant issues.  In the event that a resolution on some or all of the issues cannot be reached, a Trial will be held and the Court will make a determination of the unresolved issues.  Because each case, each party and each set of facts is unique, whether your case should be handled as a dissolution or a divorce is an issue which should be discussed with your attorney.

In the event that you decide to attempt a dissolution, you should do so with the understanding that, at some point, you may have to forgo that route and file a Complaint with the Court.  While it is a wonderful idea that you and your spouse can come together and reach an agreement on all of your outstanding issues, it does not always work out that way.  Further, unless a Complaint has been filed, your spouse is under no obligation to provide documents requested by your attorney which may be necessary to reach a settlement nor does your attorney not have the ability to subpoena documentation and/or information from financial institutions or other individuals.  In addition, unless a Complaint has been filed, you cannot seek the assistance of the Court to help you resolve any disputes which might arise in the settlement process.

In order to reduce the likelihood that you waste time and money attempting a dissolution only to discover months or years later that a dissolution is not going to happen, you should discuss a time-frame with your attorney at the onset of your representation in which you are going to try to reach a settlement.  Once that time-frame has expired, you and your attorney should reevaluate whether a dissolution is the best option for you.

As always please feel from to leave your comments/questions on Ohio Divorce or contact me to setup a consultation.

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I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself.  My name is Denise Cook and I am a domestic relations and family law attorney (or what most people refer to as a “divorce attorney”) in the Cleveland/Akron area.  I have been practicing for over 10 years in numerous counties throughout the area, including Cuyahoga, Summit, Geauga and Lake Counties.  Drawing on my experience as a Cleveland Divorce Attorney, my goal in writing this blog is to provide you with the answers to some of the more frequently asked questions regarding this area of the law.  Please feel free to leave your comments/question about Ohio Divorce or contact me to schedule a consultation to further discuss your specific questions.


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