In Ohio, a Divorce is an adversarial proceeding. The plaintiff must have legal grounds to file for divorce which under R.C. 3105.01 include: (1) either party having a spouse living at the time of the marriage; (2) willful absence of the adverse party for one year; (3) adultery; (4) extreme cruelty; (5) fraudulent contract; (6) gross neglect of duty; (7) habitual drunkenness; (8) imprisonment of the adverse party at the time of filing; (9) when the husband and wife have been living separate and apart for more than a year; and (10) incompatibility, unless it is denied by either party.
A divorce is instigated by one party filing a “Complaint for Divorce” in the Domestic Relations Court of the county in which they have lived for more than 90 days. The plaintiff must also have been a resident of Ohio for 6 months prior to filing for the divorce. If these requirements are not me, the Ohio court will not have jurisdiction.
Once a case is filed “temporary orders” are usually issued which address issues that cannot wait until a final hearing such as: the allocation of bills that need to be paid; who will have temporary custody of the children; whether child or spousal support is necessary. Temporary orders can be issued after a hearing or after the submission of affidavits.
In the discovery phase of divorce litigation, the parties may find out almost anything they want about each other’s finances, personal lives, medical histories, criminal records, and just about anything that is not legally privileged. Discovery is governed by the Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure and allows for the taking of depositions; the submission of interrogatories (written questions); requests for production of documents and tangible items; requests for admissions; and if needed requests for psychiatric evaluations. In addition, either party can subpoena third-parties who have valuable information to testify at trial or depositions.
While it is often better to reach an agreement with the other party, it is not always possible. Most divorce cases eventually settle, however, if they do not, the Court will ultimately decide the issues at hand in a trial. A trial may encompass a single issue upon which the parties cannot agree, or it might involve a myriad of issues. Each side will be given an opportunity to present evidence and question witnesses. The Ohio Rules of Evidence will apply. Divorce trials are conducted without a jury. After the trial, the Judge will issue a decision and mail copies to all parties and their attorneys.