If you and your spouse live in Ohio and you have decided to separate, there are three options for you: legal separation, dissolution of marriage, and divorce. If you want to go for dissolution of marriage (“no-fault” separation), it’s required that you file for legal separation first. You could also file for legal separation even if you’re not thoroughly decided if you want to escalate your separation towards dissolution or divorce. The legal separation agreement is a precautionary measure to ensure that details about your separation will be in black-and-white and enforceable terms.
- Determine if you and your spouse are governed by Ohio state laws. The one filing for legal separation should be a resident of the state of Ohio for at least six months prior to the filing, and should be a resident of the particular county where the civil court order will be made for at least 90 days prior to the filing. There are exceptions to these residency requirements in cases of domestic violence.
- Know more about Ohio procedures pertaining to legal separation. Legal separation means that you will still remain married to your spouse, but the court will recognize that you are living separately.
- Know what the legal separation agreement should contain. The legal separation agreement should contain the following elements: child support and custody details; parental rights and responsibilities; spousal support and its terms and conditions; allocation and division of marital debts, assets and properties; and insurance issues.
- Obtain a separation agreement form. Obtain a copy of the requirements you will need to fulfill for filing for legal separation; you will be able to get such copy from your county court. Some of the requirements stated include the following: a family information sheet; a statement of marriage; statement of children (if you have any); allocation of parental rights and responsibilities; child support; health insurance; and payment of marital debts. Visit the website of your county court office to check if they have the forms available online. Check out the Butler county court’s website here.
- Refer to pertinent legal statutes. The main sections you will have to consult are the following: Ohio Revised Code Section 3105.63 for the general provisions regarding legal separation, and Section 3119.02 for child support information.
- Know where to file. You should file for legal separation agreement at the domestic relations division or the general division your local common pleas court.
- Discuss the terms of agreement with your spouse. Ideally, you and your spouse should work together towards forming the details of your separation. If you are not in amicable terms, however, it’s best that you both hire an attorney to handle the negotiation of conditions and terms for your separation.
Going through a separation can be quite an ordeal, but you could greatly reduce the suffering if you know the proper procedures for getting your separation finalized as early as possible. After you’ve successfully filed the petition for legal separation, a hearing date will be determined; this date is between 30 to 90 days after your filing. This should set you on your way towards embarking on a new life without your spouse.