Divorce, Legal Separation and Dissolution of Marriage in Ohio: What's the Difference?

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Divorce, Legal Separation and Dissolution of Marriage in Ohio: What's the Difference?

Deciding whether to divorce your spouse can be very stressful and confusing. There can be many hard decisions you will have to make in terms of finances, living arrangements, and child custody. You may be wondering what’s the difference between divorce vs. legal separation vs. dissolution of marriage in Ohio, and which option is the right one for you?

Cleveland Ohio divorce lawyers like the attorneys at Manning & Clair often answer these questions when consulting with clients. We can provide legal advice, but the decision ultimately rests with you.

Divorce vs. Legal Separation

The road to most divorces begins with a separation. Sometimes these separations are temporary, sometimes they are permanent. In some instances, couples want to live separately, but don’t want to end the marriage. A common reason for this is when the couple needs to stay married for one spouse to continue to be covered under the other’s medical insurance. In circumstances like these, there is an alternative to a divorce or dissolution of marriage known as legal separation. Legal separation is when both spouses reach a legally binding agreement on splitting property, parenting rights and other issues while remaining married.

Filing for Legal Separation in Ohio

Obtain a legal separation in Ohio by having an Ohio divorce lawyer file an action that alleges one or more “grounds,” or reasons why the legal separation should occur. These grounds are the same ones that would be used in an Ohio divorce proceeding. In Ohio, they can include:

  • Incompatibility
  • Adultery
  • Willful absence for more than one year
  • Extreme cruelty
  • Imprisonment of the adverse party
  • Fraudulent contract
  • Habitual drunkenness or drug use
  • Gross neglect of duty

While one spouse may seek only a legal separation, the other may seek a divorce. All the temporary orders and procedures available in an Ohio divorce case also apply to legal separation in Ohio.

The Differences Between Divorce vs. Legal Separation vs. Dissolution of Marriage in Ohio

The bottom line is that legal separation in Ohio keeps your marriage legally intact. Meanwhile, marriage ends in the case of a divorce or dissolution of marriage in Ohio. However, the issues addressed by the court in a final order or agreement of legal separation in Ohio are the same matters dealt with in a divorce or dissolution of marriage in Ohio. This can include parenting rights, child support, spousal support, division of property and payment of debts. It is important to remember that the rights and obligations outlined in the legal separation can be enforced in court.

The agreement or order of legal separation can become the basis of a final divorce or dissolution of marriage in Ohio. But, the marriage remains legally intact unless one of the spouses takes action to formalize a divorce or dissolution.

Can You Modify an Order for Legal Separation in Ohio?

Also, you can modify an order for legal separation in Ohio. If both parties agree, they can modify the division of property. Courts cannot, however, change the property division without both parties’ consent. Child support and parental rights and responsibilities orders are subject to change so long as the court has jurisdiction over these orders. You can generally modify spousal support if you can demonstrate that financial circumstances have changed for one of the parties involved.

How can a Cleveland, Ohio Divorce Lawyer Help?

Work with a local Cleveland, Ohio divorce lawyer to better understand how to secure a legal separation in Ohio. This can save you time and a lot of frustration. An experienced Ohio divorce lawyer can help file the action with court and navigate tricky financial, property and child custody matters.

Manning & Clair Attorneys At Law have extensive experience in divorce law, family law and understand what you are going through. The decisions you make now can impact your life for years to come. So, we promise to offer you compassion during this tough time as well as expert legal advice that protects your interests and helps you reach a resolution. To learn more, please contact us today.