How to File for Separation in Ohio

Four Parts:Contemplating Separation in OhioPreparing to File For SeparationFiling For SeparationFinalizing Your Separation

When you and your spouse wish to separate in Ohio, you can do so by submitting an agreement to the Ohio Court of Common Pleas or you can go through a court hearing. Regardless of the route you choose, a separation will result in you and your spouse splitting marital property, finalizing child custody, and settling on spousal support payments.[1] When you and your spouse separate, your marriage will be in a holding pattern until you decide to finalize a divorce or get back together.[2] If you wish to file for a legal separation in Ohio, read this article for information on how to do so.

Part 1
Contemplating Separation in Ohio

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    Talk with your spouse. Before filing for separation, you will need to have an open and honest conversation with your spouse. During this conversation you should discuss what led you to feel like separation may be the best choice for the two of you. Also, during these discussions, you should begin to think about whether you both can agree on the separation and its terms. If you can, the separation process will be much less adversarial and tense. While filing for separation is never an easy process, discussing it with your spouse will make it much less painful.
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    Determine if you meet the residency requirements. In order to file for a legal separation in Ohio, you must meet certain state and county residency requirements.
    • To file for separation in Ohio, the spouse filing the complaint (you) must be a resident of the State of Ohio for at least six months immediately prior to the filing of the complaint.[3]
    • In addition, the spouse filing the complaint (you) must be a resident of the county you are filing in for at least 90 days immediately prior to the filing of the complaint.[4]
  3. Image titled Write a Grant Proposal Step 5
    Assess whether you have a valid cause for separation. In Ohio, a court may grant a separation for any of the following reasons:
    • Either party had a husband or wife living at the time of the marriage;
    • Willful absence of one party for one year or more;
    • Adultery;
    • Extreme cruelty;
    • Fraudulent contract;
    • Any gross neglect of duty;
    • Habitual drunkenness;
    • Imprisonment of the adverse party at the time your separation complaint is filed; or
    • Incompatibility (only if you and your spouse agree to this).[5]

Part 2
Preparing to File For Separation

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    Consider hiring an attorney. If you can afford a family law attorney, you should consider hiring one to help you navigate the separation process in Ohio. See this article for directions on how to find a good family law attorney. Even if you cannot afford a full-service attorney, many attorneys provide limited services at a reasonable cost. This means you may be able to hire an attorney to prepare your documents, give you limited legal advice, or potentially even teach you about this area of the law, without having to pay the attorney to take on the entire separation process.
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    Prepare a separation agreement. If you and your spouse agree on how property will be split, how child custody will be handled, and how child and spousal support will be paid, then you can fill out a separation agreement for the judge to look over and approve. In Ohio, you can go online here and print a separation agreement that you will then fill out with your spouse. When you fill out the separation agreement, you will need to decide and agree on the following issues:
    • You and your spouse must live separate and apart.[6]
    • You and your spouse will be required to decide who will be awarded any real estate, vehicles, household goods and personal property, financial accounts, stocks, bonds, securities, mutual funds, business interests, retirement plans, life insurance policies, and any other properties owned by the two of you.[7]
    • You and your spouse will have to agree on debt allocation, meaning who will incur the debt the two of you have built up.[8]
    • You and your spouse will have to calculate how much, if any, spousal support will be paid to either you or them.[9] The separation agreement allows you to simply fill in the boxes and makes this calculation and determination very straightforward.
    • You and/or your spouse may agree to a name change.[10]
    • If you and your spouse have children, you will need to create a parenting plan that discusses the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities, parenting time, child support, and healthcare.[11] Attach your plan to the separation agreement when it is complete.[12]
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    Prepare a complaint for a legal separation. Regardless of whether you and your spouse have completed a separation agreement, you will need to prepare a separation complaint in order to open a case in court. The documents required to file for separation are largely identical to those required for a divorce, the only difference being the relief you ask for.[13][14] To prepare a complaint, go to your county's website and print the required form. For example, in Cuyahoga County you would look here, and in Butler County you would look here. Once you print the form, you will need to fill it out. In the form you will be required to:
    • Identify yourself and your spouse;
    • Swear that you meet the residency requirements for filing;
    • State a valid ground for separation; and
    • Identify any property you both have and any children you both have.[15]
  4. Image titled Reduce Your Student Loan Payments Step 4
    Prepare a case designation form. Once you fill out your complaint, you will need to fill out a case designation form, which tells the court that you are not filing for a divorce but are instead filing for a separation. This form can usually be found online. For example, in Cuyahoga County, you can find the form here.
    • To fill out the form, check the box stating you are filing a separation complaint, identify yourself and your spouse, and identify any children that are going to be a party to the action.[16]

Part 3
Filing For Separation

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    File your complaint with your other required documents. Once you have filled out your separation complaint, case designation form, and separation agreement (if applicable), you will need to file these documents with the clerk of courts in the county courthouse where you meet the residency requirements.
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    Pay the filing fee. Separation filing fees will vary depending on what county you are filing in. For example, in Summit County, the filing fee ranges from $310 to $360.[17]
    • If you cannot afford the filing fee, you may be able to apply for a fee waiver. If you wish to apply for a fee waiver, you will need to show the court that you have a financial hardship and are unable to pay the amount due. Two common reasons for granting a fee waiver include not having a source of income and having to pay child support.
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    Serve the other party. An Ohio court will not consider your separation complaint filed unless and until it has been served on your spouse.[18] In order to serve your spouse, you should file the Instructions for Service with the same clerk of courts you filed your complaint with.[19] The clerk of courts will then serve your spouse with the complaint.
    • The instructions only require you to fill out each party's name and the case number.[20] The clerk of courts will use that information to find your spouse and serve them.
  4. Image titled Prepare a Power of Attorney Step 2
    Wait for the other party's answer. Once your spouse has been served, they will have an opportunity to answer your complaint. When your spouse answers, they will either admit or deny the allegations you made in your separation complaint.[21] If you have already filed a separation agreement, your spouse should simply file an answer admitting everything in the complaint.
    • You or your spouse can usually find the answer form on your county's website. For example, in Cuyahoga County, the answer form can be found here.

Part 4
Finalizing Your Separation

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    Attend any required court hearing. Once an answer has been filed in the case, a hearing date will be scheduled that you and your spouse will attend.
    • If you and your spouse have filed a separation agreement, the hearing should be relatively smooth and conversational. The judge may ask questions about the details of your agreement, including finances and arrangements for minor children.[22] The judge will also ensure that the agreement was signed and entered into voluntarily by both parties.[23]
    • If you and your spouse have a contested separation, the judge will require both parties to state their case for why they should prevail. After both parties have had a chance to present their case, the judge may ask questions of anyone involved in order to get a better idea of the facts surrounding the case.
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    Obtain the judge's ruling. Once you and your spouse have taken part in the hearing process, the judge will make a ruling about the case. This ruling may be made the same day as your hearing or may come days after.
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    Fill out a judgment form. Once the judge has decided your case, you will need to fill out the appropriate judgment form for the judge to sign. The type of judgment form you will fill out will depend on whether you have children and whether you had a separation agreement.[24] For example, in Cuyahoga County, you can find the various judgment forms here.
    • In general, the judgment form will ask you to fill in a series of blank spaces with the judge's decisions.[25] This will include all of the judge's decisions about property allocation, child custody, and spousal support.[26] Once the form has been filled out, you will get the judge's signature.[27]
  4. Image titled Change Your Name in Texas Step 13
    File your judgment form. Once the judgment form has been signed off on, you will need to file that form with the clerk of courts. There will be no filing fee associated with the filing of this document. Once you file the judgment form, the judge's decisions will be final and you will be expected to uphold their decisions.

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Categories: Divorce | Legal Matters