Same-sex marriages were legally recognized in Ohio after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges on June 26, 2015. Before this landmark decision, there occurred feeble attempts to legalize such types of unions, but they failed every time. State judges are also bound to grant a same-sex divorce in Ohio under identical conditions as for heterosexual couples. Therefore, the procedure for a gay divorce in Ohio is the same for all residents.
Same-sex divorce online
Same-sex couples can file for divorce in Ohio, or they can choose a marriage dissolution. Either way, they can go through the process without a lawyer if they have an uncontested divorce. There are no other specific requirements, except an amicable decision by both parties to end a marriage. A do-it-yourself alternative is more affordable than hiring an attorney.
A person married to a same-sex partner can get a divorce in Ohio in a quick and inexpensive way by using specialized online services. For instance, onlineohiodivorce.com helps its clients to prepare same-sex divorce paperwork in Ohio for only $139. Printable documents that each client receives are customized to their case. Divorce over the Internet is not only cheaper but also very convenient, especially when the spouses live far away from each other.
Same-sex divorce papers in Ohio
A divorce process in Ohio for same-sex spouses is no different from heterosexual ones. A Plaintiff files the necessary documents with the court and serves copies to the other party. After that, the couple must attend a court hearing or possibly a divorce trial if there are contested issues, such as child custody or property division.
How to file a same-sex divorce in Ohio? There are a few options. You can collect same-sex divorce forms in Ohio by yourself or with the help of a lawyer. However, you have to understand that the price of a lawyer’s advice will not come cheap. Obtaining same-sex divorce papers in Ohio online is a quick and easy solution that also gives more certainty in their acceptance in court.
Valid grounds for same-sex divorce in Ohio
If the married couple complies with the residency requirements, they can get a same-sex divorce in Ohio. A spouse filing for divorce must have lived in the state for at least six months before commencing the action. Ohio law requires a Plaintiff to provide one of the following causes (Ohio Revised Code, § 3105.01):
Abandonment for one year;
Gross neglection of duty;
Imprisonment at the time of filing;
Procurement of a divorce outside Ohio;
Separation for one year;
A divorce for same-sex couples in Ohio can only be obtained on fault-based grounds. But there is another option. The court can also grant a marriage dissolution, which is a no-fault alternative to a divorce. It can be obtained on condition that the spouses agreed on all critical issues such as property or parenting responsibilities beforehand. As for a common-law marriage, it was abolished in 1990, so no Ohio court will recognize such type of union.
Custody of the Child
For all cases concerning minor children, the court will allocate parental responsibilities. Custody can be of several types: legal, physical, shared, and sole. In the case of shared legal custody, both parents have equal rights to control important aspects of their child’s life, such as education or health. Shared physical care means that a child lives with each parent in turns throughout a year.
Before a divorce trial, the court will investigate all relevant circumstances that can affect the child’s best interests, such as family relations, earning abilities, past conduct, mental and physical health (Ohio Revised Code, §3109.04). In determining the best interest of a child, a judge considers the following:
- the wishes of the child;
- the child’s relationship with parents and siblings;
- the physical and mental health of all parties;
- whether either parent will facilitate frequent contact of the child with another parent;
- whether one of the parents was charged with child abuse or neglect;
- the plans of either parent to move to another state;
- other factors.
A judge can order the parents to attend a parenting class or some other type of counseling, the cost of which may be imposed on one or both parents. In complex cases, it is better to hire an experienced family law attorney to ensure a positive outcome and avoid mistakes.
One or both parents may be ordered to provide financial support to their children, the amount of which is calculated according to child support guidelines established by the Ohio Supreme Court. Ohio courts use the income shares model that includes the combined gross income of both parents and other relevant information. The factors that affect the payment are the number of children, the number of nights spent with each parent, and income taxes. Each support order includes health care expenses.
Gross income includes total earned and unearned income from all sources, salaries, wages, bonuses, commissions, royalties, pensions, interest, social security benefits, etc. The court may deviate from the basic child support schedule if the amount of child support is unjust or inappropriate (Ohio Revised Code, §3119.22).
In divorce proceedings, one of the spouses can ask for financial support from the other party. Usually, the court determines the need for it after the distribution of marital property. The amount and duration of maintenance depend on several factors:
- the income of the spouses from all sources;
- relative earning capacities, assets, and liabilities of the parties;
- age and health of spouses;
- the retirement benefits;
- the length of marriage;
- tax consequences;
- the standard of living during the marriage;
- the contribution of each party to education and earning ability of another;
- the time needed for a seeking spouse to receive education and training for employment;
- other relevant factors (Ohio Revised Code, §3105.18).
Any of the spouses can apply for a modification of the support order upon significant changes in their circumstances. The payments are automatically canceled after the death of either spouse if there was no other arrangement.
In any divorce proceeding, spouses will have to divide their marital property according to either prenuptial or any other settlement agreement or according to Ohio laws. Marital property excludes all real and personal estate owned before marriage or acquired as a gift or inheritance. How is property divided if the parties did not agree on the terms in advance?
When a couple decides to file for divorce in Ohio and dissolve a same-sex marriage, they must keep in mind that all their marital property will be distributed based on the principle of equitability. It means that a judge divide assets and debts fairly between the spouses considering the following factors (Ohio Revised Code, §3105.171):
- the duration of the marriage;
- the assets and financial obligations of spouses;
- the option of giving the family home to a custodial parent;
- the liquidity of the property;
- the tax consequences;
- the cost of sale of an asset if it is necessary for the distribution of property;
- retirement benefits except for social security benefits;
- other factors.
Mediation is a process of alternative resolution of conflict where spouses can discuss their disputes. Negotiated issues usually cover child custody, property division, and spousal support. Mediation is not mandatory in Ohio. However, upon the court order, the spouses must go through the procedure adopted by local rules.
The duration of mediation is usually no more than two sessions lasting for two-three hours. The parties may bring their lawyers or consult with them before and after meetings. If the agreement was not reached, the judge would resolve contested issues at the trial at his or her discretion.
Filing fees for same-sex divorce in Ohio
A married couple can file for same-sex divorce in Ohio in any county court, whichever is closer to their residence. Since divorce laws in Ohio are the same for same-sex unions and heterosexual ones, there is one filing procedure for all of them. One of the spouses, a Plaintiff, must submit a package of documents to the county clerk’s office and pay a fee for every form and motion.
Prices in different counties can vary. Approximately, filing for divorce with children is $400, and without — $350. Temporary orders cost $20-$25, motions to modify a former judgment — $200-$250. If a person cannot afford the fees, he or she can ask for a waiver of all or part of the legal costs. A clerk will require certain financial information that proves that person’s lack of ability to pay.
How long it will take
The length of divorce process largely depends on the complexity of the case. The dissolution of marriage and uncontested cases are usually fast and last no more than three or four months. Contested cases with minor children and valuable property can extend to a few years. After filing a petition, there is a waiting period of 90 days before the final judgment.
The decision of how to serve the documents on the other spouse also affects the overall time. If a person married to a same-sex partner wants to get a divorce in Ohio while the other spouse is out of state, they must first find that spouse. A person serving the papers must be over 18 years. It can be a sheriff or a third party who is not interested in the outcome