Divorce vs. Dissolution vs. Separation

Divorce vs. Dissolution vs. Separation
The main difference between divorce, dissolution and legal separation is that in divorce and dissolution the marriage is terminated whereas in a legal separation the marriage is maintained but the parties live separate lives for each other.

Divorce
A divorce in Ohio is filed when there is typically “fault” by one of the parties and party not at “fault” seeks to end the marriage. A court in Ohio may grant a divorce for the following reasons:

  • Either party had a husband or wife living at the time of the marriage from which the divorce is sought
  • Willful absence of the adverse party for one year
  • Adultery
  • Extreme cruelty
  • Fraudulent contract
  • Any gross neglect of duty
  • Habitual drunkenness
  • Imprisonment in a correctional institution at the time of filing the complaint
  • Procurement of a divorce outside this state by the other party
  • When the parties have, without interruption for one year, lived separate and apart without cohabitation
  • Incompatibility, unless denied by either party

Often times when a divorce is filed a party to the divorce may request the court grant temporary orders while the matter is pending. These temporary orders can include custody of children, child support, spousal support, and other related financial matters. There can also be restraining orders obtained to prevent physical or verbal abuse as well those to prevent the parties from disposing of marital assets.

Divorce cases in Ohio are resolved either through settlement by the parties or a trial to a judge or magistrate. If the parties decide to settle their divorce matter, they decide many if not all of the terms of their divorce settlement which will then become a part of the court’s order. If the divorce remains contested the parties will have a trial on the grounds of the divorce and there will be testimony to determine the parties’ assets, custody of children, spousal support and other matters under contention.

Dissolution
A dissolution of marriage in Ohio is a much different process than that of a divorce. While a divorce may end in settlement instead of a trial, a dissolution begins and ends as a settlement between the parties. Additionally, there does not need to be “fault” for a dissolution like there is for a divorce.

A petition for a dissolution is not filed until the parties have reached an agreement on all the matters that a court would decide. Thus the parties are integral in reaching an agreement as they reach an agreement on the division of property, payment of debts, custody of children, child support, spousal support.

After the parties reach an agreement and the petition is filed with the court a hearing must happen between 30 and 90days after the filing. At the hearing the court will inquire if both parties approve of the agreement and if they desire to have the marriage dissolved. If all are in agreement, the will approve the parties’ agreement.

The benefits of a dissolution is that it is usually much faster and often less costly than a divorce. But the end result of a dissolution is the same as in a divorce, the marriage is terminated.

Legal Separation
Why choose a legal separation? Legal separation exists when two people desire to live separately but do not wish to terminate their marriage with a divorce or dissolution. Examples are when the parties need to continue medical insurance coverage, which may or may not be allowed by the policy, religious beliefs, or other personal reasons for not wanting to end the marriage with a divorce or dissolution.

A legal separation may be obtained in Ohio for the following reasons:

  • Either party had a husband or wife living at the time of the marriage from which legal separation is sought
  • Willful absence of the adverse party for one year
  • Adultery
  • Extreme cruelty
  • Fraudulent contract
  • Any gross neglect of duty
  • Habitual drunkenness
  • Imprisonment in a correctional institution at the time of filing the complaint
  • When the parties have, without interruption for one year, lived separate and apart without cohabitation
  • Incompatibility, unless denied by either party.

How is a legal separation different from a divorce or dissolution? In a legal separation the marriage remains substantially intact whereas in a divorce or dissolution the marriage is terminated. However, this issues addressed by the court in a legal separation are largely the same as those in a divorce or dissolution. These issues include custody, division of assets, child support, spousal support and payment of debts.