If you’ve decided to move forward with a divorce or your spouse has filed for dissolution, you may feel disappointed and unprepared for the next steps ahead. Divorce represents an emotional and dramatic event in one’s life. Consult with a qualified divorce attorney in Canton, Ohio, to protect your interests as you navigate your way through this transitional time in your life. It’s perfectly normal to worry about how a divorce may affect your finances and your children. At McCleery Law Firm, we can help you protect both.
What Is Divorce?
A divorce is the legal dissolution of a marriage by a court of law. Your divorce attorney in Canton, Ohio, can review with you the three ways for a husband and wife to alter or terminate their marital relationship.
Legal separation occurs when the court determines spousal support, child custody and visitation, and allocation of parental rights and responsibilities but does not terminate the marriage. The parties remain married but live separately.
A dissolution in Ohio represents the mutual agreement of both parties to terminate their marriage. There exists no requirement of either party to prove grounds for dissolution. The parties jointly complete a dissolution petition after the husband and wife sign a separation agreement regarding all marriage issues. Dissolution and uncontested divorce are used interchangeably to reference the same situation.
In a divorce, the parties ask the court to decide on property division, child custody and visitation, and other marriage issues. While most divorce cases settle before trial, many parties may not reach amicable solutions to specific issues and proceed to trial.
What Is the Divorce Process in Canton, OH?
Your Canton Ohio divorce attorney understands the divorce process and can walk you through the requirements. The court requires the filing of multiple forms—more if minor children are involved. Failure to file proper forms or the incorrect completion of these forms may result in undue delays and complications as you move forward with your divorce.
If initiating the divorce, your Canton Ohio divorce attorney assists you in preparing the initial complaint. At the time of the divorce complaint filing, your Canton divorce attorney also files a motion for temporary orders. Once you file your complaint, the court sets an initial hearing date for temporary orders approximately three weeks after your filing date. Procedural rules dictate that your spouse receive a copy of the complaint with a summons, which provides information on answering the complaint, including deadlines.
At the temporary orders hearing, a magistrate determines multiple issues while the divorce is pending. These matters include whether spousal support or child support may be appropriate for either spouse, which parent receives temporary custody of any minor child or children, and other issues particular to your case. If the Magistrate makes an unfavorable decision, a party must file an objection within 10 days of the Magistrate’s decision. Even if you file an objection, you must follow the Magistrate’s Order. If you fail to adhere to the Magistrate’s order, you may be found in contempt of court and jailed or fined.
Additionally, at the time of filing, the court provides a date approximately five months out, setting an uncontested hearing if the served spouse filed no answer or a pre-trial if your spouse filed an answer and played an active role in the proceeding.
An uncontested hearing occurs when your ex-spouse does not participate in the divorce process by filing an answer.
An uncontested hearing can also occur where both parties to the divorce agree to all issues related to a dissolution. Your Canton, Ohio divorce attorney prepares a settlement agreement reflecting the issues agreed upon by both parties.
In an uncontested divorce, the court schedules a final hearing wherein both parties must testify to the following:
- That they voluntarily agreed,
- That they agree to the terms of the deal,
- That neither party is bankrupt,
- That they are not pregnant,
- If either party is active military, that they confirm the satisfaction of all duties, and
- That they still wish to proceed with dissolution.
Proceeding with dissolution in this matter may be beneficial for both parties. Your Canton, Ohio divorce attorney reviews your case’s facts and determines whether this may be an advantageous method of divorce for you.
Discovery and Negotiation
After the temporary hearing, your Canton, Ohio divorce lawyer guides you through the discovery and negotiation phase of your divorce. During this stage, your Canton, Ohio divorce attorney gathers all information necessary to settle the case or try it before the court. Discovery includes financial information and other information relevant to the divorce.
Negotiation initiates a stage in the divorce process where your divorce attorney in Canton, Ohio, attempts to settle your divorce. If counsel represents your spouse, both attorneys work to diffuse tensions and avoid hostilities while working toward a fair and equitable result. In many situations, negotiations never result in a solution and the case must move forward to trial. However, when parties achieve a settlement, you may save money and avoid the stress of a trial.
If you reach a settlement, your attorney drafts a separation agreement setting forth all aspects of the agreement concerning spousal support, child support, custody and visitation, property division, and any other issue particular to your case.
When settlement attempts fail, the parties must go to trial. A trial requires substantial preparation to determine whether expert witnesses are needed, gathering evidence, scheduling depositions, and other tasks. A trial may last anywhere from one day to several days. When the trial concludes, the presiding judge issues a Findings and Decree outlining the court decision on trial matters. If you are unsatisfied with the Findings and Decree, you may appeal the judge’s decision. However, upon the conclusion of the trial, your divorce is granted, and your marriage ends.
How Is Property Divided?
Ohio statutes determine the classification of marital property and separate property. Property classified as marital property is property acquired during the marriage, including real property, personal property, retirement plans, stock interests, and more, regardless of their title. Separate property is property acquired before marriage or property acquired through non-marital funds.
Upon determining what property qualifies as marital property, the court then divides marital property equally. However, in certain situations, the court may determine that equal division of marital property may be unfair to one spouse. Separate property is typically not subject to division and remains the property of the owning spouse. However, the court may award separate property of one spouse to another to achieve a fair result.
The divorce attorneys at McCleery Law Firm in Canton, Ohio, understand the divorce process’s complexities. We work to represent your best interests while smoothly supporting you through each step of your dissolution or divorce. We listen carefully to your needs.
The divorce process in Canton, Ohio, gets complicated quickly, and our divorce lawyers possess the knowledge to avoid unnecessary delays and alleviate stress from your life. A divorce is a life-changing event, and our attorneys help clients get started on a new chapter of their life with their rights protected and interests preserved. Contact our office today for a free consultation!