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Divorce Attorneys In Columbus, Ohio

When a marriage is ending, many people get caught up in emotional conflict. While the divorcing couple may agree that the marriage is over, they often disagree as to how to resolve custody, property division and other matters in their divorce. At the law firm of Sowald Sowald Anderson Hawley & Johnson, our divorce attorneys in Columbus, Ohio, will help you keep your focus on the tasks at hand: achieving an equitable division of marital assets, creating a parenting plan for raising your children, and determining appropriate child support and spousal support.

For more information on a divorce topic, click on one of the links below:

  • Marriage dissolution: Marriage dissolution is an alternative to a contested divorce.
  • Collaborative law: Collaborative law focuses on the parties and their attorneys working together as a group to identify and address the issues and concerns of both parties in order to help the two sides resolve complex divorce issues without putting the decision into the hands of the court. A successful collaborative law case results in the marriage being terminated by dissolution and avoids the time, expense and emotional costs that result from a contested divorce.
  • Mediation: Mediation is a process that can be employed in a contested divorce in a collaborative case or a simple dissolution. Mediation provides an opportunity for the parties to work with a neutral third party who can assist them by facilitating discussion so that the parties can both express their thoughts and concerns with the hope of developing an agreement that meets the needs of both parties and their children. If an agreement is reached on all, or some, issues, the agreement can be incorporated into a divorce decree or separation agreement.
  • Marital property division: Ohio courts start with a presumption that an equitable property division means an equal one. However, the judge can decide that an unequal division is “equitable” based on the facts of your case.
  • Child custody and parenting time: In Ohio, there are two types of child custody: sole custody and shared parenting. Each type of custody has its own characteristics, but neither of them determines the parenting schedule or what the child support obligations of either party will be.
  • Child and spousal support: In Ohio, child support is based on statutory guideline calculation that considers the income of the mother and father, the cost of health care coverage and the cost of work-related child care. The statutory calculation must be done to establish the guideline support amount, but the parties may agree to a different amount or the court may order a different amount if it deems it to be appropriate to do so. Spousal support is not based upon a statutory calculation, rather the court has total discretion to determine the amount and length of spousal support after considering the parties’ incomes, the length of the marriage, and a host of other factors.
  • Relocation and child custody: Our divorce lawyers represent parents who wish to relocate as well as parents who oppose such moves. The Ohio courts start with the presumption that relocation of children away from a parent is harmful to the children and unfair to the parent being moved away from. So, a parent who relocates with children away from the other parent must convince the court that there are valid reasons for the relocation that will, ultimately, be beneficial to the children.
  • Unmarried parents and child custody/support issues: Our divorce lawyers represent unmarried fathers who wish to establish custody and visitation rights, as well as unmarried mothers who wish to retain sole custody of their children.
  • Civil Protection Orders (CPOs): CPOs are sometimes filed just prior to, or during divorce cases. CPOs can be necessary for the protection of a party or the children, but sometimes a CPO based upon false accusations is filed solely as an attempt to get the upper hand in divorce or custody cases.
  • Gray divorce

How To File For Divorce In Ohio

While each divorce will look different depending on a couple’s unique situation, the legal process of filing for divorce generally involves the same stages no matter your circumstances. Steps in the divorce process include:

  • Filing an Ohio Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and paying a filing fee: Your petition begins the divorce process and outlines many details related to the end of your marriage. You may sign this petition along with your spouse, or – in a fault-based divorce – you may individually file.
  • Serving notice: If you filed a fault-based divorce, your filing includes information about how your spouse will be notified of your filing. Common methods include certified or registered mail.
  • Attending a hearing: Your hearing will generally occur within 90 days of filing your petition. During your hearing, you will answer questions, present evidence and prove that fault has occurred if necessary.
  • Attending mediation: If you and your spouse do not agree on the details of the divorce, you may require additional steps before ending your marriage. The court may order mediation to help you negotiate.
  • Receiving a divorce decree: Whether you and your spouse agree on the details or the judge must review your evidence to decide on a fair solution, the judge will issue a divorce decree that formally ends your marriage.

The timeline for divorce can vary depending on your situation. It may take only a few months in some cases. However, divorce may take longer if you and your spouse disagree on details, have valuable assets to divide or need to make decisions about a parenting plan for underage children.

What Are The Grounds For An Ohio Divorce?

Ohio allows both fault and no-fault divorces. Typically, for no-fault divorces, spouses must first be separated for around one year.

To consider a divorce an “at-fault divorce” in Ohio, it must meet at least one of the following requirements:

  • Spouse was willfully absent for at least one year: They moved out or stopped engaging in the relationship.
  • Spouse neglects marital duties: They stop financially contributing to the household or the family.
  • Spouse had an affair: This can include physical, emotional or digital romantic connections with someone outside the marriage.
  • Spouse displayed extreme cruelty: They were either verbally or physically abusive.
  • Spouse entered a fraudulent marriage: This applies when one spouse hides information from the other before getting married, or if they forced the other spouse into marriage through threats or intimidation.
  • Spouse has severe alcohol addiction: A spouse’s alcohol habits create problems in the marriage.

Understanding your grounds for divorce can help you move forward with the process. If you still need to figure out where to start, call our divorce attorneys today at 380-217-3322 or fill out our online form so we can discuss your circumstances at length.

How Is Property Divided In A Divorce?

Some spouses can agree on how they want their property and assets divided. For others, the court must decide. This does not necessarily mean your property will be divided 50/50. Proving why you deserve more can be important. Anything you acquired before your marriage is known as separate property and typically will stay in your possession.

What Is A “No-Fault” Divorce?

Each state is different, but in Ohio, if you are living separately for one year you are eligible to file for a no-fault divorce. This means you are not required to show wrongdoing of either party in order to file the divorce.

What Is A Divorce Decree?

A divorce decree is the document that officially ends your marriage. This document will include details like:

  • The division of your marital property
  • Whether you or your spouse will pay spousal support and how long those payments will last
  • How you and your spouse will handle child custody and child support

Your divorce decree is a court order. It legally ends your marriage, and the terms of your divorce are legally binding. If your situation changes and you need to change the terms of your divorce decree, you will need to return to court for a modification.

Are There Alternatives To Divorce?

Yes. You can get legally separated, which allows you to retain your marital status. Typically, people do this because of religious beliefs or to maintain health care benefits. It is also an option for those who might consider reconciling in the future. Another alternative is an annulment which means your marriage was never legally valid; this can only happen for specific reasons.

What Does Legal Separation Involve In Ohio?

While Ohio couples may separate at any time, legal separation involves additional steps that provide you with additional protection. By creating a separation agreement, spouses separate their lives and their finances while staying legally married.

Obtaining a legal separation involves filing a lawsuit with the court and addressing details like property division and child custody. The resulting separation agreement can form the basis of a later divorce agreement if the couple later decides to end their marriage.

This process does not require you to work with an attorney. However, the support of an experienced family lawyer can help you make informed decisions for your family when legally separating from your spouse.

In-Court Divorce Is Not Your Only Option

Terminating a relationship inevitably involves some degree of stress or pain. It is the end of a fond dream, no matter how you go about it. However, the law provides several ways to exit from a marriage, apart from the usual court-based divorce.

This section examines other ways we can help you to bring your marriage to an end, short of a contested divorce.

Marriage Dissolution

Our Columbus divorce lawyers can guide you through every step of the marriage dissolution process. The first step is to negotiate and draft a separation agreement and a shared parenting plan containing all of the terms the parties have agreed to. The next step is to prepare all of the other documents that are required to file the case with the court. The final step is to conduct the final dissolution hearing, during which the judge confirms that the parties understand and are in agreement with the terms of the separation agreement and shared parenting plan; that the parties both wish to end the marriage; and then, grants the dissolution of the marriage and signs the final decree.

Dissolution Vs. Divorce

Divorce and dissolution both allow a couple to end their marriage. However, there are a few key differences. The largest difference between divorce and dissolution is that dissolution focuses on a couple’s joint decisions about their decision to end their marriage and other key details with one hearing to confirm those decisions. Divorce, on the other hand, can involve many different hearings, alternative dispute resolution methods like mediation and other steps.

Another key difference between dissolution and divorce is the amount of time that the process takes. Because couples undergoing dissolution agree on the specifics of ending their marriage, this process is often much faster than a litigated divorce.

Collaborative Law

The collaborative process is an alternative way to conduct the marriage dissolution process, that requires both parties to be represented by an attorney and that both parties and their attorneys work as a group to gather all of the information necessary to address all of the relevant issues and to negotiate a settlement agreement that is fair and acceptable to both parties. A collaborative law case differs from a simple dissolution in that both parties and their attorneys must execute a contractual agreement stating that they will not abandon the collaborative case and initiate a contested divorce case. If one of the parties does decide to abandon the collaborative process and initiate a contested divorce, neither party may be represented by the same attorney that represented them in the collaborative case.


To have a marriage annulled, one spouse must establish one of six grounds for annulment. Requests for annulment must be brought within two years of the marriage or two years of discovering the reason why the marriage was not a real marriage. Property division is often less equitable in an annulment.

Our divorce lawyers also assist with uncontested divorce, an affordable and low-key process in which no major issues require resolution.

Schedule A Consultation With One Of Our Columbus Divorce Attorneys

To schedule a divorce consultation with a divorce lawyer at Sowald Sowald Anderson Hawley & Johnson, call 380-217-3322 or fill out the contact form on this website. Our law office is on Fifth Street in downtown Columbus.

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