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 requests for psychiatric evaluation. In addition, either party can subpoena information and take depositions of third-parties (like significant others). These third-parties can also be forced to testify at a trial or hearing. While there are legal grounds for attacking subpoenas that are overly burdensome or request privileged information, usually the other side’s need for information outweighs incidental burdens.
The final stage of a divorce proceeding is a trial. Most cases do not make it this far. In a divorce trial issues such as property division; child custody; child support and spousal support will be decided. The vast majority of cases settle prior to reaching this point.
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