The Courts of Ohio have jurisdiction to terminate the marriage of any Ohio resident that has lived in the state for at least six months. This is the case even if the marriage took place in another state. The termination can be by way of Divorce, Dissolution or annulment (in rare circumstances). Often, couples that have separated and are living apart want to terminate the marriage and have already come to an agreement on all relevant issues (property division, child custody, spousal support, etc). In other words, the parties agree to go their separate ways and really do not want (or have anything) to fight over.
Frequently, when the parties agree on all material issues, the best mechanism for terminating the marriage is a dissolution. When parties petition the Court for a dissolution, they submit a separation agreement to the Court along with the petition. Both parties later appear in court for a brief hearing where they affirm their desire to dissolve the marriage and to declare their agreement on all material issues, as is evidence by the signed separation agreement. This seems easy enough, right? Well, maybe not.
A dissolution will not work when one of the parties to the marriage is unable to appear in Court here in Ohio. At the heart of the dissolution is the idea of agreement by the parties, and if one of the parties does not appear in court to formally declare their agreement, the Court cannot terminate the marriage. In this scenario, the parties should look into an “uncontested divorce.”
Generally speaking, an uncontested divorce is where one party files a complaint for divorce and the other spouse fails to file any responsive pleading or otherwise appear and defend the action. The Court can terminate the marriage by simply having the plaintiff-spouse testify (along with one other witness to corroborate the testimony) and the defendant-spouse need not appear at all. Although this seems rather intuitive, the real benefit of an uncontested divorce is that the parties can still enter into a separation agreement, just as in a dissolution, and submit it to the court for incorporation into the final divorce decree.
So, whenever two spouses reside far apart, they should consider an uncontested divorce action to save the absent spouse travel expenses. But, remember that this will only work when both spouses are in agreement on the division of property, child custody, spousal support, etc.
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