Divorce vs. Dissolution in Ohio, Part Two: Should You Try to Negotiate a Dissolution, or Just File for Divorce?
Whether to try for a dissolution or just file for divorce usually hinges on whether it appears likely that agreement can be reached on all issues without having to file for divorce. If the parties both go to their lawyers with just everything already worked out, and there are no children and no assets to fight over, a dissolution is definitely the way to go. At the other end of the spectrum, if the level of conflict is very high - for instance, if one spouse has left the state with the children, drained the bank accounts, kicked the other spouse out of the house, etc., it is best to file for divorce immediately, which automatically gets certain "restraining orders" in place in most Ohio counties and gets the process started. If the situation is somewhere between these two extremes - i.e., where there is some disagreement but the parties and their lawyers are civil and reasonable and there are no immediate/urgent issues, negotiating a dissolution can be explored as an option.
The drawback to attempting a dissolution is that you can negotiate for ages (I have had some take over a year) and if a resolution is not ultimately reached then you have to file for divorce anyway, which results in a longer and more expensive process than if you would have just filed for divorce "to get the process started" in the first place. Remember, you can still work out everything in a fair, amicable and civil way - just like with a dissolution - after a Complaint for Divorce has been filed. One mentor of mine has a "three-month rule" - if a complete agreement for a dissolution has not been reached in three months, file for divorce. This is a good rule of thumb. However, of course, every case is different and there may be reasons to file for divorce sooner or to wait much longer. It can even depend what county you are in.
If you are in the process of separation from your spouse, feel free to call me at (513) 338-1947 for a consultation. The information in this post is intended to be helpful but should not be taken as official "legal advice." Every situation is unique and it is always best to consult with an Ohio divorce lawyer in order to understand the full extent of your rights and options.
Alex Durst is a Cincinnati civil litigation attorney and appellate attorney with The Durst Law Firm. Licensed in Ohio, Alex has also practiced in Missouri, Florida, Indiana, California, Nevada, Massachusetts, and Kentucky. Alex can be reached at (513) 621-2500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.