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What Are the Grounds for Divorce in Ohio?

— September 21, 2022

Incompatibility is the most common reason people file for divorce in Ohio.

The state of Ohio requires that couples specify a legal reason for divorce. This is unique in the fact that it offers spouses two ways to file for divorce. When spouses choose to divorce in Ohio, the spouse that files must provide a reason as to why the marriage is ending – whether it be fault-based or no-fault. 

In most divorce cases, an agreement is reached. During the divorce process, a proposed divorce decree is prepared, signed by the parties, and submitted to the court for approval. Upon approval by the judge, the agreement becomes a court order. If the parties are unable to come to a resolution on any disputed issues, the evidence must be presented in a contested trial. A judge will review both parties’ evidence and make a decision based on Ohio laws. 

Many divorcing couples choose to file for a no-fault divorce, however, Ohio laws still allow a spouse to file for a fault-based divorce. A dedicated and knowledgeable divorce attorney will be well versed in no-fault and fault-based divorce proceedings. Therefore, they will be able to help a spouse through their divorce no matter the reason why. 

Grounds For No-Fault Divorce

In Ohio, filing for a no-fault divorce means that neither spouse has to prove or argue about who is at fault, or who’s bad decisions lead to the end of the marital union. In order to obtain a no-fault divorce, both spouses must agree that they are simply incompatible with each other. 

Incompatibility is the most common reason people file for divorce in Ohio. It’s the simplest way to proceed as long as the other spouse doesn’t disagree. No-fault divorces often end faster than fault-based divorce proceedings, mainly due to the fact that spouses don’t have to argue over who’s to blame. When one of the spouses decides to deny incompatibility, the only other way to obtain a no-fault divorce is to live separately without cohabitation for over a year. This is defined in Ohio Revised Code section 3105.01.

Grounds For Fault-Based Divorce

Section 3105.01 of the Ohio Revised Code outlines and defines all acceptable grounds for divorce in Ohio. There are nine fault-based grounds for divorce listed in this section that are recognized in the eyes of Ohio law. 

The downside to a fault-based divorce is the other spouse’s ability to contest the reasons listed for the divorce. This can cause a dispute that will ultimately require the filing spouse to prove the listed reasons in court with eyewitness testimony and evidence. However, in most cases, both parties simply agree that they are incompatible. 

The nine grounds for divorce in Ohio are:

Blurry image of someone pouring alcohol into a mug on bar; image by Nick Rickert, via
Blurry image of someone pouring alcohol into a mug on bar; image by Nick Rickert, via
  • Willful absence of the adverse party for one year or more – One spouse has left the home for more than a year and has not returned.
  • Adultery – One spouse willingly chose to have sexual relations with another individual. 
  • Either party had a husband or wife living at the time of the marriage from which the divorce is sought – One spouse was already married to another individual at the time they married their spouse.
  • Extreme cruelty – This can mean physical or emotional abuse and any act that makes the spouse feel that it is unsafe, unhealthy, or unreasonable to continue living with their spouse. Domestic violence is also considered to be extreme cruelty. 
  • Fraudulent contract – Marriage is a form of a legal contract. It becomes fraudulent when a spouse withholds information, doesn’t tell the truth, or was forced into getting married. 
  • Habitual drunkenness – Habitual drunkenness may include situations where a spouse is either a drug addict or alcoholic. 
  • Any gross neglect of duty – Each spouse has a duty to treat each other with respect, fidelity, and support. It is considered gross neglect when a spouse has failed to fulfill these duties consistently or for a sustained period of time. This concept can be applied in a variety of circumstances, such as a spouse who has the means to financially support their family but chooses not to do so. 
  • Imprisonment of the adverse party in a state or federal correctional institution at the time of filing the complaint – A spouse was convicted and sentenced to jail or prison time, and their spouse wants to divorce them because of it. 
  • One spouse divorced the filing spouse in another state

How A Divorce Attorney Can Help

In most divorces, spouses file a no-fault divorce to divide assets, debts, and custody of minor children so that they are equitably distributed. Despite this, there is still a chance there will be disputes and unfavorable outcomes. An experienced and well-versed divorce attorney can help an individual understand their rights, their options, and how to best navigate their divorce legally. It is essential that they hire legal representation to have an advocate in their corner, regardless of what the reason for the divorce may be. 

Even a no-fault-based divorce can become stressful and complicated quickly. There are a number of issues associated with divorce that can be handled by a divorce attorney. Among the most common areas of guidance provided by divorce attorneys are the division of assets and estate, custody issues, and many other matters that may arise during the divorce process. Divorce attorneys are available as a tool to help spouses resolve family-related issues involving child custody and dividing assets. Many times, hiring a divorce lawyer can help calm down tense situations and discussions concerning divorce proceedings and splitting assets.  Call an Ohio divorce attorney today, to see how they can assist you with your divorce proceedings. 

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