Ohio Divorce Laws

Ohio Divorce Laws
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Ohio Divorce Laws


To file for a divorce or annulment, the plaintiff must be a resident for at least six months prior to filing. The court of common pleas has jurisdiction of all domestic relations matters, and all actions for divorce and annulment shall be brought in the proper county. [Based on Ohio Revised Code Section 3105.011 and 3105.03]


A divorce may be granted for the following causes: [Based on Ohio Revised Code Section 3105.01]

  • Incompatibility, unless denied by either party.
  • Living separate and apart for one year.
  • Desertion for one year.
  • Either party had a husband or wife living at the time of the marriage from which the divorce is sought.
  • Adultery.
  • Extreme cruelty.
  • Fraudulent contract.
  • Any gross neglect of duty.
  • Habitual drunkenness.
  • Imprisonment in a state or federal correctional institution at the time of filing the complaint.
  • Procurement of a divorce outside this state, by a husband or wife, by virtue of which the party who procured it is released from the obligations of the marriage, while those obligations remain binding upon the other party.


The court of common pleas may grant legal separation on the same grounds as for divorce. A husband and wife cannot, by any contract with each other, alter their legal relations, except that they may agree to an immediate separation and make provisions for the support of either of them and their children during the separation. [Based on Ohio Revised Code Section 3103.06 and 3105.17]


At any time after thirty days from the service of summons or first publication of notice in an action for divorce, annulment, or legal separation, or at any time after the filing of a petition for dissolution of marriage, the court of common pleas, upon its own motion or the motion of one of the parties, may order the parties to undergo conciliation for the period of time not exceeding ninety days as the court specifies, and, if children are involved in the proceeding, the court may order the parties to take part in family counseling during the course of the proceeding or for any reasonable period of time as directed by the court. No action for divorce, annulment, or legal separation, in which conciliation or family counseling has been ordered, shall be heard or decided until the conciliation or family counseling has concluded and been reported to the court. [Based on Ohio Revised Code Section 3105.091]


Ohio is an equitable distribution state, meaning that the marital estate shall be divided equitably. In making a division of marital property, the court shall consider all of the following factors:

  • The duration of the marriage.
  • The assets and liabilities of the spouses.
  • The desirability of awarding the family home, or the right to reside in the family home for reasonable periods of time, to the spouse with custody of the children of the marriage.
  • The liquidity of the property to be distributed.
  • The economic desirability of retaining intact an asset or an interest in an asset.
  • The tax consequences of the property division upon the respective awards to be made to each spouse.
  • The costs of sale, if it is necessary that an asset be sold to effectuate an equitable distribution of property.
  • Any division or disbursement of property made in a separation agreement that was voluntarily entered into by the spouses.
  • Any other factor that the court expressly finds to be relevant and equitable.

Separate property not subject to property division includes inheritances, property owned before the marriage, passive income or appreciation acquired from separate property during the marriage, property acquired after a legal separation, property excluded by an antenuptial agreement, personal injury awards, and gifts given to only one spouse. [Based on Ohio Revised Code Section 3105.171]


The court of common pleas may award reasonable spousal support to either party. In determining whether spousal support is appropriate and reasonable, and in determining the nature, amount, and terms of payment, and duration of spousal support, which is payable either in gross or in installments, the court shall consider all of the following factors:

  • The income of the parties, from all sources.
  • The relative earning abilities of the parties.
  • The ages and the physical, mental, and emotional conditions of the parties.
  • The retirement benefits of the parties.
  • The duration of the marriage.
  • How appropriate it would be for the custodial parent of a minor child of the marriage to seek employment outside the home.
  • The standard of living established during the marriage.
  • The relative extent of education of the parties.
  • The relative assets and liabilities of the parties.
  • The contribution of each party to the education, training, or earning ability of the other party.
  • The time and expense necessary for the spouse who is seeking spousal support to acquire education, training, or job experience so that the spouse will be qualified to obtain appropriate employment.
  • The tax consequences, for each party, of an award of spousal support.
  • The lost income production capacity of either party that resulted from that party's marital responsibilities; (n) Any other factor that the court expressly finds to be relevant and equitable.

[Based on Ohio Revised Code Section 3105.18]


When a divorce is granted the court of common pleas shall, if the person so desires, restore any name that the person had before the marriage. [Based on Ohio Revised Code Section 3105.16]


Either parent may be awarded custody, and the court shall not give preference to a parent because of that parent's financial status or condition. The court may allocate the parental rights and responsibilities for the care of the children primarily to one of the parents, designate that parent as the residential parent and the legal custodian of the child, and divide between the parents the other rights and responsibilities for the care of the children, including, but not limited to, the responsibility to provide support for the children and the right of the parent who is not the residential parent to have continuing contact with the children.

If one parent files a pleading and submits a shared parenting plan, and if a plan for shared parenting is in the best interest of the children, the court may allocate the parental rights and responsibilities for the care of the children to both parents and issue a shared parenting order requiring the parents to share all or some of the aspects of the physical and legal care of the children in accordance with the approved plan for shared parenting. When allocating parental rights and responsibilities, the court shall take into consideration the following factors:

  • The wishes of the child;
  • The wishes of the child's parents regarding the child's care;
  • The child's interaction and interrelationship with the child's parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interest;
  • The child's adjustment to the child's home, school, and community;
  • The mental and physical health of all persons involved in the situation;
  • The parent more likely to facilitate court-approved parenting time rights or visitation and companionship rights;
  • Whether either parent previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to any criminal offense involving any act that resulted in a child being an abused child or a neglected child;
  • Whether either parent has established a residence, or is planning to establish a residence, outside this state.

When determining whether a shared parenting arrangement would be in the best interests of the child, the court shall consider the following factors:

  • The ability of the parents to cooperate and make decisions jointly, with respect to the children.
  • The ability of each parent to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other parent.
  • Any history of, or potential for, child abuse, spouse abuse, other domestic violence, or parental kidnapping by either parent.
  • The geographic proximity of the parents to each other, as the proximity relates to the practical considerations of shared parenting.
  • The recommendation of the guardian ad litem of the child, if the child has a guardian ad litem.

[Based on Ohio Revised Code Section 3109.04]


The court may order either or both parents to support or help support their children, without regard to marital misconduct. The court shall include in each support order the requirement that one or both of the parents provide for the health care needs of the child to the satisfaction of the court, and all support payments shall be made through the office of child support in the department of job and family services. The court or agency shall calculate the amount of the obligor's child support obligation in accordance with the Ohio Child Support Guidelines worksheet.