How Long Will It Take To Get a Divorce or Dissolution in Ohio?

Although this seems like a simple question, unfortunately there is no simple answer.  There are many variables to be considered from the time you begin the divorce process to the time the final order is signed.  The biggest variables are:

1. Where you file your divorce (in what Ohio county).  Each county in Ohio has a different way of treating each divorce case and in some courts each judge does things differently.

2. How much time the parties and their lawyers spend in pre-divorce activities (before or after the case is filed). This includes attempts at reconciliation, mediation, discovery, pretrial negotiation, etc.

3. What kind of case you file which depends on which “docket” (schedule) it will be assigned and the way it will move through the court system.

Three categories of divorce

Divorce cases usually fall into one of  three categories:

1. Contested Divorce

2. Uncontested Divorce

3. Dissolution.

There are different time variables with each.

Contested Divorce

This depends primarily on what is being contested.  One party must file and present the grounds for the divorce in their initial complaint.  The other party has 28 days to respond (answer) and counterclaim.  If the dispute concerns child custody or visitation, the courts may force the parties into mediation.  If the contest is financial, it will take time to complete the pre-trial discovery process where information can be sought about the parties’ assets, debt and income.

The goal is to turn the contested divorce into an uncontested one through negotiation, but again this takes time.  A competent divorce lawyer always tries to avoid trial, but he or she is prepared for trial if there appears to be no other solution.

A contested divorce generally takes at least a year, often more if there are children and disagreements on numerous issues.  The latter can precipitate a series of pre-trials and a trial which will take additional time and expense.  In rare cases, this kind of divorce could take years.

Uncontested Divorce

In this type of divorce, both parties agree they want a divorce. Scheduling of this docket varies widely in Ohio—some move these cases quickly, others require at least one pre-trial.  If children are involved, the case may last longer, but the parties’ ability to reach agreement generally helps things go faster overall.

Dissolution

In an Ohio dissolution, each party completely agrees ahead of time on every aspect of the divorce.  If it turns out later the agreements have to be renegotiated, it can take considerably longer before the dissolution petition is filed.  Between 30 and 90 days of the dissolution filing date, a final hearing is scheduled.  If everything is in order, the judge signs the divorce order and it is filed with the Clerk of Courts.  The dissolution is completed.  However, the divorce is not final until the judge has signed the agreement and the papers are filed with the Clerk.

When the petition for dissolution is filed, the parties must also attach a separation agreement.

When counting the amount of time needed to complete a dissolution, one should also include the amount of time it will take to negotiate and write the separation agreement.  Also, remember a judge can refuse to sign the agreement if he decides it is unfair to either party.   This would delay the final hearing and the dissolution.

Your divorce attorney should be familiar with every judge and every court in your home county and should be dedicated to finding the best solution for your domestic situation.  An experienced divorce attorney will be able to advise you if a dissolution, uncontested, or contested divorce would work best for you.   Getting a divorce is always a painful time in life, but having competent legal help can make things much easier.

The divorce attorneys at the Ohio law firm of  Slater & Zurz LLP will always work to find solutions to your legal problems and if a trial is needed, we have the trial experience it takes to prevail in divorce cases.  Please contact us at 1-888-774-9265 to talk with one of our divorce lawyers or fill out the FREE CASE REVIEW form at the top of the page.

About Jeffrey Hawkins

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