Divorce Process

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Divorce Process

Divorce Process in Ohio

1. Prepare and Plan

After you have decided to end a marriage, it’s time to prepare for the next steps. Before making any agreements or signing any documents, contact a divorce lawyer to ensure you fully understand the process and possible outcome. Divorce tends to be an emotionally difficult process, so having our legal guidance helps you determine whether or not you are eligible to proceed with a divorce, a non-contested divorce, or a dissolution. An attorney helps you plan by gathering documents, creating a post-divorce budget, and determining your goals for property and parenting time.

2. File Divorce Complaint

The divorce process officially begins after filing a complaint. In addition, all necessary restraining orders and support orders protecting you, your finances, and your children, during the pendency of the divorce, will be filed. The documents include an outline of your and your spouse’s incomes, expenses, and debts. It is vital that these forms are completed correctly since the court utilizes the information to settle initial orders regarding parenting time arrangements and spousal support. Our attorneys can assist you in completing these documents to help protect you and your family’s best interests.

When you’ve finished filing the complaint, the other party has 28 days to answer.

3. Temporary Orders and Discovery

Once both parties have joined the lawsuit, the court will usually make a ruling on any temporary orders that the parties have asked for. Temporary custody, child support, and spousal support are all examples of temporary orders (alimony). Pretrial hearings can be ordered if there is an emergency or if one of the parties is displeased with the court’s early conclusions. The judge usually appoints judges to conduct these hearings, and each party presents testimony to support either a revision of the interim orders or new orders in their favor. This first lawsuit is crucial because it often provides the groundwork for how the divorce will progress throughout the process.

4. Negotiation and Settlement 

It’s time to have a settlement conference with your lawyer when the discovery process is completed and you and your attorney are convinced that full disclosure has happened. Your lawyer will next look back to your first case review as well as broad legal principles and apply them to the facts of your case. Together with your lawyer, you will draft a settlement plan that will be sent to your spouse’s counsel. This is a critical period since it provides an opportunity to resolve the situation swiftly and inexpensively. Pretrial litigation, discovery, and settlement negotiations often take three to five months in Stark and adjacent counties.

5. Pretrial Conference

Following the initial proceedings, both parties and their attorneys will be asked to report to a pretrial conference. This stage determines which disputes are outstanding so that the divorce can be ended. The court may request psychological evaluations of both parents or a home investigation if custody has not yet been determined. If you’ve reached a settlement, this conference will be used to help close the case. If not, the court will attempt to identify the issues that are still contested to allow one final chance for both parties to resolve outstanding matters.

6. Trial

If a settlement cannot be reached through negotiation, a trial will be conducted in front of a judge who will then decide the matter. In Ohio, divorce trials are held in front of a judge. Your lawyer should be meeting with you and your witnesses to discuss trial strategy and get you ready to testify. In addition, the attorney will prepare all essential documents to support your case as exhibits to be filed to the court.

Once the trial has ended, the matter is taken “under advisement” by the judge, who will write a decision within a few weeks. It is possible to file an appeal to challenge the trial’s outcome with the court of appeals.

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