What Are My Rights During Dissolution? Do They Differ Than Rights During Divorce?

Dissolution and divorce are two ways that a marriage may be terminated. At the end of either process, the court will issue an order that ends the marriage between the parties, allocates debts and assets, provides child and spousal support orders, and provides terms for custody, if there are minor children from the marriage. The difference lies in the procedures necessary to get to the final court order.


In Ohio, when a married couple seeks to dissolve their marriage, they have worked out all the issues and reached an agreement on all terms, including debts, assets, retirement accounts, child and spousal support, designation of residential parent, parental and visitation rights, and payment of attorney’s’ fees. The terms are all set out in a separation agreement. That agreement is filed with the court along with a petition for dissolution.

During the process of negotiating a separation agreement before filing for dissolution, there is no subpoena power available and the parties must voluntarily trade information. The parties cannot force each other to answer interrogatories or be deposed, and the parties cannot request for the court to grant temporary orders. After the separation agreement is reached and filed in court, a hearing must take place after 30 days, and both parties must appear and testify that they have disclosed all assets and liabilities, and that they voluntarily signed the agreement.


With a divorce in Ohio, one party is generally required to allege that his or her spouse has been at fault under one of the statutory grounds for divorce. These grounds include adultery, willful absence for more than a year, extreme cruelty, habitual drunkenness, gross neglect of duty, fraudulent contract, imprisonment in a state or federal penal institution, etc. Divorce may also be granted if both parties admit incompatibility or they have been living separate and apart for one year without interruption and without cohabitation.

Once a divorce complaint is filed, the parties may request the court to grant temporary orders to preserve the family’s status quo with regard to finances and custody of minor children. Hearings may be scheduled throughout the divorce process to determine the merits of temporary requests or to make parties comply with orders. Each party has the right to find out about all property owned by each other, and professionals may be brought into court through subpoenas to testify to the value of assets.

If the parties do not reach an agreement, there will be a trial before a judge or magistrate. Once the court makes a decision, the parties may appeal that decision with the court of appeals.

Columbus Family Law Attorney

Deciding how to terminate a marriage, either through dissolution or divorce, is a complex endeavor. Contact the Law Offices of William L. Geary at (614) 289-1227 to speak to an attorney who can help you make decisions that are best for your situation.

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