Is Divorce Always the Best Option?

July 31, 2016

family law attorney

When reconciling with your spouse no longer appears possible, you have several ways to end your marriage legally. Divorce is not always the best option. It may prove too final. Going through a lengthy, costly, and contentious legal process may not be necessary. You or your spouse may want to legally claim no marriage ever existed. 

Consulting with an experienced and caring Ohio divorce lawyer can help you weigh your options. Before you schedule an appointment, get a sense for which path you may want to follow by reading through these brief descriptions of the possible benefits of a legal separation, an uncontested divorce, a marriage dissolution, or an annulment. 

Legal Separation 

A legal separation preserves your legal relationship with your spouse but removes certain obligations and expectations. For instances, legally separated spouses are not expected to share a home, co-parent, or engage in sexual relations. Separate spouses do, however, retain rights to be covered under the same insurance and retirement policies, hold communal property and assets, and share government benefits. 

The legal process for obtaining a legal separation mirrors the one for seeking a divorce. Spouses must reach agreements over child custody and visitation, the division of debts, and the ownership of property. They must also get a judge to approve the terms of the separation. 

Also be aware that while a legal separation leaves open the possibility of reconciling, ending the separation is not as simple as moving back in together. Going back to court to reinstate your marriage after separating will be necessary if you want to resume full status as a married couple. 

Uncontested Divorce 

Ohio law does not explicitly provide for uncontested divorces, but state courts do allow one spouse to obtain a divorce when the other spouse offers no objections. To understand how this works, recognize that filing for divorce amounts to initiating a lawsuit. The person who files the divorce petition becomes a plaintiff, while the other spouse becomes a defendant. 

The judge who accepts the divorce petition will give the defendant opportunities to refute the plaintiff’s claims and present evidence for why the plaintiff should receive everything he or she wants in terms of custody, property, and other requests. The defendant has the option at each stage of stating that he or she has no intention to exercising those rights. When the defendant decides not to contest the divorce, it proceeds to a conclusion with minimal time and expense. 

Dissolution 

A marriage dissolution combines aspects of an uncontested divorce and a full divorce proceeding. To dissolve a marriage, both spouses must agree to settle all issues between themselves and then present a judge with a completed agreement. Reaching that agreement can require facilitated negotiations, mediation, or arbitration. You can receive advice and representation from an Ohio divorce attorney at each stage. 

A marriage dissolution tends to move quicker and cost less than a standard divorce. It also usually creates fewer hard feelings. Both spouses start from the understanding that the marriage should end, and each has the goal of reaching mutually agreeable decisions on issues. A full divorce proceeding concludes with the judge declaring one spouse the “winner,” which can produce resentment. 

Annulment 

A judge who grants an annulment decrees that no marriage ever took place. The family law attorneys with Edward F. Whipps & Associates discuss the grounds Ohio recognizes for an annulment here

One reason to strike a marriage from the public record is to strengthen a case for a religious annulment. Another is to fully break any legally binding relationship with a former spouse. A divorce creates a contract regarding matters like sharing custody and paying support, while an annulment removes all obligations toward the other person. 

To talk through your options with an Ohio divorce attorney, call Edward F. Whipps & Associates at (614) 461-6006 or schedule an appointment online.

 

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