A divorce decree is the document which officially grants a divorce. It is an order issued by the court having jurisdiction over the matter. Once a judge has issued a divorce decree, the parties are officially divorced.
Who Is Authorized to Issue a Divorce Decree?
Only the court, through a judge in the proper court, may issue a divorce decree. Even if the parties to a divorce enter into a settlement agreement, the Family Court judge must approve the agreement and issue an order, which he signs, specifically granting the divorce and officially terminating the marital relationship.
How is an Ohio Divorce Decree Obtained?
The first step in obtaining a divorce is filing a petition for divorce in the appropriate court. There may be many different courts which have jurisdiction over the issue. Typically, one can file for divorce in the state in which the couple were married, the state in which the filing spouse resides and the state in which the non-filing spouse resides.
The petition for divorce must be served on the other spouse, providing him or her notice of the requested divorce. This will commence the legal process.
What Happens After The Divorce Petition has been Filed and Served?
Once the divorce process has commenced, it is typically up to the parties to try to work through the process and come to an agreement as to the division of any and all marital assets. If there are children from the marriage, custody and child support will also need to be worked out. Often times, spousal support will also be sought by one party to the divorce.
The best case scenario is where the parties are able to reach a settlement as to all assets, custody and spousal support, resulting in a settlement agreement which can be filed with the court. Frequently, however, court intervention is required to resolve some, if not all, of these issues.
Typically in divorce proceedings, there will be at least one court hearing the parties will need to attend. This initial hearing is somewhat of a status check, where the court establishes which judge will be hearing the case, should the divorce proceed to trial, and to see where the parties are in reaching an agreement. When there is an issue of custody, many courts require a special custody mediation, with the mediator providing a recommendation to the court as to physical and legal custody.
Most states have mandatory formulas that are used to calculate spousal and/or child support. A party can always request the court order a higher or lower amount, but it is unlikely such a request will be granted.
Two Ways an Ohio Divorce Can Be Granted
Ultimately, a divorce proceeding will end in one of two ways. A settlement will be reached with the parties signing a written settlement agreement, which will include a final disposition of all marital property, custody arrangements, child support, and spousal support. The settlement agreement will be filed with the court, where the judge will enter it into the record and sign an order granting the divorce based upon the terms of the agreement.
If a settlement agreement is not reached, then the case will proceed to trial. A judgment will be rendered, with an order signed by the judge granting the divorce. This judgment and order will include all of the terms of the divorce that were decided in the trial.
Most Divorces Have a Mandatory Waiting Period
It is important to note that most states have a mandatory waiting period before a divorce can be deemed final. Typically, that period of time begins at the moment that the petition for divorce has been served on the other party. Even if the parties reach an agreement earlier, the divorce will not be deemed final or official until that waiting period has ended.
Hire An Attorney
If you are considering filing for divorce or have been served with divorce papers, it is best to consult with an Ohio attorney specializing in family and divorce law. This is the best way to protect your rights and ensure the best outcome for you and your children.