Next Page Mediation

Divorce VS Dissolution: What is the Difference?

By Jim Robenalt

What Is the Difference Between a Divorce and a Dissolution in Ohio?

Now that the decision to terminate the marriage has been made, you also have to decide how you want to end it. In Cleveland, you have two legal options between divorce and dissolution. Divorce mediation serves as a helpful forum for securing these outcomes

If you’re not familiar with dissolution, don’t worry. The following material will give you an overall understanding of the procedure and how it differs from the standard divorce in Ohio.

If you feel you must end your marriage, it will of course be important to you that you at least try to do so in a manner that is less painful and more manageable. After reading this, you may lean toward a traditional divorce, or you may begin to see why dissolution coupled with divorce mediation is becoming more popular in Cleveland.

It’s Necessary to Reach an Agreement

The critical difference between a dissolution and a divorce is the cooperation between spouses. For a couple to I would edit to say: “For a couple wanting to secure a dissolution of their marriage, there must be agreement on the front end on all issues before they file a petition for dissolution. Divorce, on the other hand, is different than a dissolution. With divorce, couples do not reach agreement before filing and aren’t expected to see eye-to-ey when they file for divorce. In many cases, a divorcing couple can be at odds on every point under discussion

On the other hand, couples aren’t expected to see eye-to-eye when they file for divorce, and they can be at odds on every point under discussion. Three hot-button issues are child custody, child support, alimony, and asset division.

Child Custody

Some of the most contentious divorces rest on the issue of custody. With which parent will the kids live? Will there be sole custody or joint custody, also known as shared parenting?

Sole custody grants one parent the primary control over deciding where the child will grow up, attend school, and attend religious services. And in a medical emergency, the parent with sole custody will determine what treatment to pursue.

Shared parenting requires a great deal of communication, and both parents have a say in making major decisions in the child’s life. But even in a shared parenting arrangement, one parent is likely to spend more time with the child than the other due to conflicting schedules.

For a dissolution, the adults must have already come to terms with the realities of child custody. In divorce cases, judges often have to step in and decide matters.

For example, one parent may insist on having shared custody. But after the judge scrutinizes the parent’s lifestyle, the judge may rule in favor of sole custody for the other spouse.

Child Support

Even when a parent is willing to accept less than expected for alimony, it’s doubtful that the same parent will be as flexible regarding a child’s support payments. For example, child support can make it easier for kids to afford electronic tablets, laptop computers, and other gadgets that are part of today’s mainstream education programs.

If parents can decide how much the children need each month, there’s a chance of dissolution of marriage in Ohio. Otherwise, child support will be one of the issues negotiated during the divorce.

The court may use the income share method to determine child support. First, the state will add the income of the two parents. Then it will calculate the percentage of the total that the non-custodial parent earns. That percentage is what the non-custodial parent will pay to meet the child’s monthly needs.

Suppose the combined monthly income of the parents is $10,000. And let’s say the non-custodial parent earns $7,000, which means the parent without custody earns 70% of the total income.

Therefore, the non-custodial parent will pay 70% of whatever the state determines is needed each month to raise the child. If it costs an estimated $1,000 per month per child, the non-custodial parent will pay 70% of that or $700.

Alimony and Dividing Assets

Alimony or spousal support can determine whether the lower-income partner will be able to meet monthly expenses or fall into poverty. So, dissolution is only likely if the mate needing support is confident of getting a fair arrangement.

It’s easier to agree over assets when both spouses know the other party’s income, savings, and investments. But there can’t be a dissolution if one spouse accuses the other of hiding assets.

The situation is especially problematic with a wealthy marriage. Divorce attorneys may have to investigate the trail of money created by the other spouse.

Collecting years of tax returns may be necessary to spot evidence of wrongdoing. For example, a spouse may have a property they have never mentioned. But yet, on their tax returns, they claimed a deduction for property taxes.

Tax returns may also reveal whether the spouse receives dividends for unknown investments. And any capital gains taxes listed on returns might indicate that a spouse liquidated stock holdings to hide income during the divorce.

Legal Resources Available for Divorce Cases

If you choose dissolution, you won’t be able to use some of the legal resources available to couples amid a divorce. Why?

These resources are designed for partners with a contentious relationship. Two significant resources are the subpoena and the restraining order.


From a financial standpoint, dissolution is only for people who have no questions about their spouses honesty concerning their finances. One person trusts the other to be truthful and present whatever records are relevant to the dissolution.

But that level of trust is typically not there in divorce cases. Therefore, one party can subpoena the records of the other, and the court order can force a mate to produce documents directly bearing on the point of contention.

Restraining Order

A restraining order or protective order shields a person from another party’s potential violence or harassment. The court has no problem listening to the argument for a restraining order when a divorce is underway. After all, domestic violence is an unfortunate reality for many and is often at the very root of divorce.

However, dissolution is not appropriate if a restraining order is required and a court will likely find these 

outcomes to be incompatible. If the relationship is broken to the point of someone needing a protective order, how is it then possible to peacefully resolve the marriage?

Restraining orders prevent a mate from sabotaging the potential assets the other party would likely receive in the divorce. For example, a protective order would keep a mate from canceling health insurance that covers the other spouse.

The order would also bar the buying and selling of items that would produce debt for the other party or reduce the value of the divorce settlement.

Dissolution and Divorce Move at Different Speeds

Typically, you can have a final hearing for your dissolution around six weeks after filing your papers. By law, it can’t occur before 30 days have passed. But the law also stipulates that the court consider your case within 90 days.

Of course, you can’t leave any aspect of your union unresolved during your negotiations. You have to address on paper every concern the court has.

Divorces are slower legal processes. Because tempers are often at a boiling point during the early stages of a divorce, Ohio mandates a six-week waiting period after one party serves the other party with divorce papers.

Uncomplicated divorces may pass through the court relatively quickly, but generally, you can expect a typical divorce to take around half a year to nine months to finalize. A complicated divorce with several points of contention can drag through the courts for years.

You Must Have Ohio Residency

You must be an Ohio resident for at least six months before filing for divorce here, and it also matters in which county you file. You must live in the county for at least 90 days before recording your divorce request.

But you can file for dissolution in any county if you want to dissolve your marriage. However, you still need at least six months of residency within the state.

A Divorce or a Cleveland Divorce Mediation?

After careful analysis, have you decided in the case of dissolution vs. divorce? 

Naturally, your spouse’s cooperation or lack thereof is a significant concern. But if the two of you can calmly reach decisions on essential talking points, there’s a chance to avoid the long, drawn-out process of a traditional divorce.

If you’d like to try mediated dissolution, why not schedule a 30-minute consultation with attorney Jim Robenalt? Ask Jim any questions you have about the process.

As the founder of Next Page Mediation, Jim has assisted many couples in Cleveland with divorce mediation that dissolved their marriages quickly and peacefully.

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