In Ohio, a Dissolution is a non-adversarial proceeding to terminate a marriage. Both spouses are designated as “petitioners” and they must agree on all issues relating to the termination of their marriage including: child custody, child support, division of property; spousal support; and anything else. The parties may agree to a dissolution upon the filing of paperwork or after the divorce process has started. Under R.C. 3105.08 a divorce may be converted into a dissolution at no additional cost.
The parties to a dissolution must cooperate with each other in all respects during the entire process. While it is fully possible for a spouse to obtain a divorce that is “uncontested” when the defendant does not wish to participate or will not show up at a hearing; a dissolution actually requires both parties to sign all documents and participate at a final hearing.
In certain counties “private" dissolution hearing may be available. In a private dissolution hearing, paperwork is filed to refer your case to a retired judge with statutory authority to hear it. The retired judge will take testimony and terminate marriages conducts the dissolution at your attorney’s office. All paperwork is then filed with the appropriate court.
Dissolutions offer many advantages to parties over traditional divorce such as a shorter time period necessary to end the marriage; less court hearings to attend (often only one); a greatly reduced cost over traditional divorce; and usually less fighting between the parties.
In a dissolution, it is not uncommon for only one attorney to be utilized. People often think this means that this attorney represents both parties. This is NOT true. The attorney represents only the party who actually retained them and owes the duties of loyalty and confidentiality only to that party. While the other party may or may not feel the need to retain their own attorney, personally I would never advise a friend or family member of mine to go through even the most agreeable of dissolutions without at least having the final paperwork reviewed by their own independent attorney.