If you have filed a complaint for divorce in Summit County (Ohio), or if you are the party against whom a divorce complaint has been filed, financial information supplied to the court and the other party will be a critically important part of the process.
Do not misconstrue the previous statement to mean that money is the number one concern in a divorce.If you are undergoing a divorce, particularly from a person to whom you have been married for many years, you will likely be experiencing significant emotional pain and be unable to think about much beyond those intense feelings.
However, you need to look out for your future welfare and the well-being of any minor children involved. If you have children, or if there are a considerable amount of assets from your marriage, you should be paying close attention to the financial aspects of the break-up.
Where does a person begin?
If you are the person filing for divorce, you will need to go to the Summit County Domestics Relations Court at 205 S. High St. in downtown Akron. You must have resided in the state of Ohio for six months immediately prior to filing and have been a resident of Summit County for 90 days.
In Ohio, you can obtain a no-fault divorce. In this case you would choose between one of two no-fault grounds: the two of you are incompatible, or you and your spouse have been living apart for at least one year.
To obtain a divorce on fault-based grounds, according to Ohio Revised Code 3105.01, you must claim one of the following:
- Either party had a husband or wife living at the time of the marriage;
- Willful absence of the adverse party for one year;
- Extreme cruelty;
- Fraudulent contract;
- Any gross neglect of duty;
- Habitual drunkenness;
- Imprisonment of the adverse party in a state or federal correctional institution;
- Procurement of a divorce outside the 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 on the other party;
- On the application of either party, when husband and wife have, without interruption for one year, lived separate and apart without cohabitation;
- Incompatibility, unless denied by either party.
An answer to a filed complaint for divorce must be made to the court in 28 days or the divorce will be considered uncontested. If a divorce complaint is filed against you and you do not answer in the required time, or do not answer at all, you may not be able to contest the grounds for the divorce.
There is another important step in seeking a divorce. You can contact a divorce lawyer who will give you a broader picture of the entire divorce process. Your attorney can help you with the initial filing and will alert you to what may lie ahead.
What should you bring to a lawyer’s office?
If you have decided to meet with a lawyer, you should start thinking about what you will need to bring with you. First of all, you will need to bring facts with you. Lawyers hear lots of opinions, gossip and guesses about a marriage under discussion, but they cannot use those in the courtroom. Only tell your attorney what you know is true. Some facts will not be important to your case, but let the attorney decide.
You will also need to bring your financial records. These will include bank records, tax returns, deeds and mortgages, rental agreements, utility bills, pay stubs, credit card bills, a stock portfolio, if you have one, as well as a record of any other investments or business records. Both you and the other party will be required to fully disclose all of your financial information. If someone fails to do so, it will likely wind up costing them money, not saving them expense.
If you have minor children or a disabled child who needs ongoing care, you may need to bring school and medical records to your meeting with the lawyer as these will likely become issues in the divorce. Ask the lawyer what he would like you to bring. For example, he may need information about potential witnesses if there are hidden assets or there have been domestic violence incidents.
In Ohio, some marriages can also be ended with Dissolution. A Legal Separation could also be sought instead of a divorce. In Dissolution, both parties are requesting the court to terminate their marriage and fault is not an issue. The spouses file a joint petition and have already prepared a separation agreement that completely settles all support and property issues. Ask your attorney if these are options you may want to consider.
Visit Summit County’s Domestic Relations website
Financial affidavits—also known as an Affidavit of Income and Expenses–can be obtained online for Summit County by going to Summit County Domestic Relations Court or drcourt.org and clicking on the “Forms” tab. The list of forms you will need to file for a divorce in the county are categorized by whether or not there are children of the marriage.
You will need to submit all forms requested so you must educate yourself about them or ask your attorney for assistance. There is also a tab entitled, “Rules.” This will give you the rules of the Summit County Domestic Relations Court which further explain what you will be required to provide the court.
For example, you will find out that you will need a form labeled “Service Request.” This form, also known as “Instructions for Service,” enables you to formally “serve” the other party with notice of the divorce or other legal action.
In Summit County, you are required to file the Affidavit of Income and Expenses with the court and provide a copy to the other party to the divorce if this is a new divorce, a legal separation, or if you are a parent and child support will be an issue. You will also need to file an Affidavit of Property when you file a complaint or file an answer to a complaint against you, or when you are involved in a legal separation proceeding.
An Affidavit of Property is also available online under Forms on the Summit County domestic relations website. On this very extensive form, you will be asked about your ownership of real estate interests; other assets, including vehicles and other titled property; financial accounts; pension and retirement plans; publicly held stocks, securities and mutual funds; closely held stocks and other business interests; life insurance; furniture and appliances; safe deposit boxes; transfer of assets; assets not listed; separate property claims—such as pre-marital property, gifts made to one spouse and inheritances. The form also asks for information on secured and unsecured debt and any bankruptcies.
The most important thing about filling out financial paperwork is to be complete and consistent. If you have a separation agreement and list certain assets in your financial information, the same assets and their estimated or known value must also appear on the financial affidavits filed with your divorce papers. The same can be said for liabilities listed including tax liabilities.
The court will look at the Affidavits to determine if the provisions of the Divorce Decree are fair and equitable to each party. The Affidavits also give your lawyer information he needs to best represent you in financial dealings and will be needed to evaluate spousal support if it has been requested.
Besides financial information given at the initial meeting, you will need to provide your attorney with the complete names and addresses of your spouse and your children, the dates of birth of all minor children and the place and date of your marriage as well as contact information about yourself.
If you are concerned that when the divorce is filed assets may be sold or destroyed, or one party may incur further joint credit debt, be assured that mutual restraining orders go into effect when a party files for divorce. Both parties are restrained from threatening, abusing or interfering with the other party; removing children from the county; and changing insurance coverage as well as selling or destroying assets or creating additional joint debts.
What happens after a divorce is filed
What happens will depend largely on whether the divorce action is contested or uncontested. If it is uncontested, a hearing will be set about four months after the filing and matters may be decided there.
If major issues remain, a trial will be set before a judge.
With a contested divorce, a “Status Conference” is held with a magistrate about four months after the complaint is filed. Each party submits an Affidavit of Assets and Liabilities and other paperwork. A magistrate then decides what issues the judge will consider in the divorce.
Two to three months later, a pre-trial is held. The divorcing parties and their attorneys meet with the judge to determine if the case can be settled. It may be finalized at this point or set for trial.
At trial, the person who filed for divorce (the plaintiff) presents his or her case, including the grounds for the divorce, information about finances and concerns about the welfare of any children of the marriage. The defendant (the person whom the complaint for divorce was filed against) may present evidence disputing the plaintiff’s claims or explaining his or her position. Each side may give oral or written arguments to the court explaining why a request is reasonable and appropriate.
Summit County Domestic Relations Court also offers three educational programs to help parents during and after the court process—one of them, “Remember the Children,” is a free three-hour session required for those with minor children.
How do I find a skilled divorce attorney?
If you go online, you will likely see many offers for very inexpensive divorces or even divorces that can be completed online. This may be an acceptable route for some people, but divorce is something that can profoundly affect your future and the future of your children. The consequences may be long-term and you need to find someone who will fight for your interests every step of the way.
At Slater & Zurz LLP, the divorce attorneys are very experienced practitioners who offer a FREE initial consultation. They understand what you are going through and are willing to stand by you in what may be the most difficult period of your life. They are also very familiar with the laws in Ohio which will help measurably as you make your way through the divorce process.
When it comes to the financial information you must provide, a Slater & Zurz LLP divorce attorney will answer your questions and also advise you on what information you must divulge as well as pertinent matters that may arise in financial data the other party has supplied.
Our law firm is conveniently located in downtown Akron at Cascade Plaza and also has offices in Canton, Cleveland and Columbus. Call us at 1-888-774-9265, chat with one of our 24-hour live chat representatives or send us a website message.