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What is the difference between a Divorce and Dissolution in Ohio?

Updated: Feb 18

In Ohio, a marriage contract can be terminated by a divorce or a dissolution. The short version is that with a dissolution, the parties generally come to court with an agreement, and the court will process the matter a lot quicker. A divorce can be resolved with an agreement, but the parties are generally unable at the outset to have an agreement.


When a marriage breaks down and the parties agree to terminate the marriage, they may agree to multiple things:

 (a) the grounds for the divorce,

 (b) the division of marital property,

 (c) the division of marital debts, and

 (d) the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities for the parties children.

When the parties agree on these things, they may jointly go to the court and request a dissolution.


On the other hand, parties may find themselves incompatable, disagreable, and unable or unwilling to cooperate with one another. Perhaps one party routinely overspent, there was infidelity, one party is too harsh on the children, one marital party is abusive of the other (verbally or physically), but one party decides to file for a divorce. This party can file for divorce and the divorce is inevitable.

A party cannot prevent their spouse from obtaining a divorce, although it can sometimes be delayed.

What are grounds for divorce?

No Fault. The only true "no fault" grounds for divorce permitted by Ohio is "living separate and apart for one year without interruption and without cohabitation" and incompatibility not denied by either party. Ohio R.C. 3105.01 (J).

Otherwise, there are several statutory grounds for divorce, including the following, pursuant to Ohio R.C. 3105.01:

 (A) Bigomy. Either party had a husband or wife living at the time of the marriage from which the divorce is sought;

 (B) 1 Year Absence. Willful absence of the adverse party for one year;

 (C) Adultery;

 (D) Extreme cruelty;

 (E) Fraudulent contract;

 (F) Any gross neglect of duty;

 (G) Habitual drunkenness;

 (H) Imprisonment. Imprisonment of the adverse party in a state or federal correctional institution at the time of filing the complaint;

 (I) Procurement of a divorce outside this state, by a husband or wife, by virtue of which the party who procured it is released from the obligations of the marriage, while those obligations remain binding upon the other party;

 (J) Living Separate and Apart. On the application of either party, when husband and wife have, without interruption for one year, lived separate and apart without cohabitation;

 (K) Incompatibility, unless denied by either party.

Should I file for a divorce or a dissolution?

Dissolutions are used when both parties agree, and will continue to agree, on how to terminate the marriage. Since this requires both parties to agree throughout the proceeding, it is best to discuss this decision with an attorney.

Typically, dissolutions are less expensive, however it is important to understand that the cost of any litigation is usually impacted by how the much parties agree or disagree.



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