Ohio Divorce Laws: A Definitive Overview And Guide

Residency Requirements

The person who files for divorce is known as the petitioner. In order to file in Ohio, they must have been an Ohio resident for at least 6 months and must have lived in the county where they file for at least 90 days. 

If you are filing for a dissolution of marriage, one person must meet the same requirements (with a dissolution of marriage, both spouses are co-petitioners). For both types, you will file in the Court of Common Pleas

Divorce vs. Dissolution of Marriage

You have two main options when ending your marriage in Ohio, including the dissolution of marriage (which is no-fault) and a divorce. 

Dissolution of Marriage

If both spouses agree to end the marriage, neither party has to prove the other was at fault and a dissolution petition is filed jointly. Before the dissolution petition is filed, both spouses must agree on how to divide an property or assets, whether any spousal support will be paid, and how any child-related issues will be addressed. 

Once the petition is filed, you have to wait 30 days before the court will hear the case. During the hearing, the court reviews the separation agreement, asks both spouses about the division of property and child-related issues, and then the court makes a determination whether they believe that both parties fully understand the agreement. 

If the court finds that both parties understand and the court agrees with the settlement, they grant the dissolution and the separation agreement becomes a court order. This ensures that one party can go back on what they agreed to later on. If they do, the other party can take the case back to court.


A divorce, on the other hand, happens if there is not an agreement between both parties. In a divorce, one spouse (the plaintiff) files a complaint to start the process. Unlike a dissolution of marriage, the court makes the final decisions regarding the division of property, any spousal support, and child-related issues. 

Most divorce cases end with an agreement by both parties, but some do not. If an agreement cannot be reached, the case will go to trial, where the court will hear evidence and determine who is at fault.

Grounds for Divorce in Ohio

In a divorce petition, the plaintiff argues that the defendant (the other spouse) is at fault for the end of the marriage. In Ohio, grounds for an at-fault divorce include: 

  • willful absence for one year
  • adultery
  • extreme cruelty
  • fraudulent contract
  • gross neglect of duty
  • habitual drunkenness
  • imprisonment of the defendant at the time of divorce 
  • incompatibility
  • when both spouses have lived apart for one year 

One of these situations is necessary for a successful at-fault divorce. 

Understanding Ohio Divorce Laws

An experienced divorce attorney can help you fully understand Ohio divorce laws. They will help you determine which process is best for you and ensure that any division of property and assets is fair to you. 

If you find yourself in need of a divorce attorney, contact us today. We handle all aspects of divorce, including spousal support, child support, and child custody issues.