Can I Get a Divorce Without Going to Court?
Every year, more than 630,000 marriages end in divorce across America. If you and your partner are separating, you are not alone.
However, getting divorced involves a lot of practical planning, which can feel overwhelming. Before you file for divorce, you must understand your options. Getting support from a Cleveland divorce mediator could help you avoid court as much as possible during the divorce process.
So how does this work? If you are getting a divorce in Ohio, read on to find out everything you need to know about legal separation outside of the courtroom.
Different Types of Divorces in Ohio
Understanding the different types of divorce available in Ohio will help you choose the right one for you and your spouse. This depends a lot on the circumstances around your separation.
The most common types of divorces in Ohio include:
- No-fault divorces (when two parties divorce without attributing blame)
- At-fault divorces (when one party identifies a reason for their separation, such as adultery or unreasonable behavior)
- Uncontested divorces (when both parties agree on the terms of the divorce)
- Contested divorces (when one party disputes the reason for divorce)
- Default divorces (granted when one party does not respond to a summons for a divorce)
All of these can end in the dissolution of your marriage, but you should be aware that the type of divorce you choose can have an impact on the terms of your divorce.
For example, it might help you secure a more favorable alimony agreement or division of assets. This will all happen during the divorce process.
The Traditional Divorce Process
During the divorce process, you and your spouse must decide what will happen to the assets you collectively own. This might involve deciding who gets to keep the family home or dividing up financial assets.
You will also have to work out how to manage your collective responsibilities. This might include:
- Deciding on a child custody arrangement
- Calculating child support payments
- Agreeing on spousal alimony payments
Traditionally, both parties would hire attorneys to represent them during this time. Your attorney will negotiate a good deal on your behalf and liaise with your spouse’s attorney. They will also represent you if your divorce case goes to court.
However, this is no longer your only option. There are plenty of ways to organize a legal separation without involving lawyers, and let’s take a closer look at some of your alternative options.
Reaching a Divorce Settlement Yourself
If you and your spouse are on good terms, you do not have to hire lawyers. Instead, you can discuss the duration of your divorce independently.
Once you have both agreed to these terms, you can file the paperwork for your divorce with the local court. This is recognized as no-fault, uncontested divorce and can be granted within six weeks.
Getting Support From a Divorce Mediator
Divorce mediation is becoming increasingly popular across the United States. This allows you and your spouse to discuss the terms of your divorce face to face.
However, you will do this with the support of an expert divorce mediator. Your mediator acts as an independent party and will support communication and make sure that both you and your spouse feel heard in the room.
Most couples have a few mediation sessions over a few weeks or even months. During these sessions, you can discuss different aspects of your divorce and hopefully reach a mutually beneficial agreement.
You will also have time between appointments to further think about aspects of your divorce. This will enable you to come to the sessions ready to discuss specific topics and raise questions or concerns that you might have.
This process aims to find a fair and fair arrangement that reflects both people’s needs. Your mediator will work flexibly with you to find a solution that works for both of you.
Mediation is a great way to dissolve your marriage in a considerate and supportive way, and it also gives you time and space to come to terms with the end of your relationship. So it can set a significant precedent as you move forwards, especially for co-parenting.
Mediation can also be beneficial if one person wants to contest the divorce, and this can give both parties space to discuss the reasons behind this. Rather than focusing on conflict, mediation seeks to build understanding and communication between a divorcing couple.
It is important to note that mediation won’t work for every couple. For example, if you are leaving an abusive relationship, you may not feel comfortable being in the room with your ex. In that case, hiring an attorney might suit you better.
Ohio also allows collaborative divorces. These are a sort of middle ground between mediation and traditional divorce. A lot of couples use mediators when organizing their collaborative divorce.
Collaborative divorces involve a team approach. Both spouses hire their attorneys to represent their needs. However, all four of you sit down together to discuss the terms of your divorce.
This, like mediation, aims to reach a fair agreement that everyone is comfortable with. There are benefits to choosing this instead of reaching a divorce settlement by yourself.
For example, divorce attorneys will thoroughly understand your legal rights. This will help you reach a fair settlement.
It is worth noting that you may have to start formal divorce proceedings if you cannot reach an agreement. In that case, you will need to hire new attorneys and start from scratch.
This can be very expensive. So before you start the collaborative process, both parties must be committed to reaching a fair settlement.
Filing For Divorce in Ohio
To file for divorce in Ohio, you and your spouse must:
- Have lived in the state for six months or more before you file your paperwork
- Have lived in the county where you are filing your paperwork for 90 days or more
- File all of the correct paperwork with your county’s clerk of courts
If one of you currently lives outside of Ohio, you will still be able to file for an uncontested divorce. In that case, only one of you must go to the final hearing, and you will need to have a witness available for this hearing.
When filing for divorce, you will submit your reasons for divorce along with your proposal for:
- The division of assets
- Child custody
- Financial support
Ohio’s courts will review this before approving your divorce and dissolving your marriage.
Do You Have to Appear in Court to Get Divorced in Ohio?
The short answer is yes. You must appear in court at least once to get divorced in Ohio. However, if your divorce is uncontested or you can reach an agreement with your spouse, you should only have to do this once.
A judge will approve your divorce and sign your judgment entry for divorce at your court date. You can then file this immediately. After this, you won’t have to return to court again.
Unfortunately, if you cannot agree on the terms of your divorce, you may have to attend court several times. During these court sessions, your attorney will present your reasons for your divorce and the terms you seek. Your ex’s attorney will also present their counter-arguments.
A judge may send you to arbitration to help you reach an agreement. This is like court-ordered mediation.
If you still cannot agree, the judge will have the final say on the terms of your divorce, which will be out of your control.
This is not the only downside to taking your divorce to court. This process can also be costly; you will pay more attorney’s fees and have to cover the court fees.
On top of this, a court divorce can take a long time to process. This is because the court sets the dates for your appearances, and these will be to accomodate the busy court schedule and can be months apart.
You also won’t be given much flexibility on your court dates. Failing to attend divorce court could result in your ex being awarded an uncontested divorce, which means they will get more control over the divorce terms.
Get Support From a Cleveland Divorce Mediator Today
If you want to get divorced in Ohio, you will need to attend at least one court date. However, there are plenty of ways you and your ex can agree on the terms of your divorce.
Getting support from a Cleveland Divorce Mediator can save you time and money. It also helps foster a positive, collaborative relationship with your ex, which can make the divorce process much more pleasant for everyone involved.
Want to know more about how a divorce mediator can help you? Then get in touch with Next Page Mediation today. We’re happy to help.