Legal separation in Ohio does more than physically separate spouses into different households. It does everything a divorce does—resolving issues such as child custody and support, property division, and spousal support—but it leaves the couple legally married.
I approach legal separation as I do divorce—making sure my clients understand their rights and working diligently to get them everything they are entitled to. I also try to save them time and money by resolving every issue we can before we meet with the judge.
Legal Separation in Ohio: The Basics
- The process for getting a court order for legal separation begins with the plaintiff’s attorney filing a complaint.
- After being notified of the filing, the defendant has 28 days to answer. The defendant can decline to respond to the complaint, agree to the terms, contest the terms, or file a counterclaim.
- If the defendant declines to respond, the complaint is considered uncontested. A hearing is held, and the judge will grant the legal separation as long as he or she believes the terms are fair, just, and equitable.
- If the defendant agrees to the terms of the complaint, the same type of hearing is held to examine the terms. If acceptable, the judge will grant the legal separation.
- To answer the complaint, the defendant’s attorney can file a counterclaim for legal separation or divorce. If it’s for divorce, the other party has to proceed with the divorce process as long as the complaint is properly filed.
- The process for a contested legal separation consists of pretrial hearings that offer an opportunity to resolve issues. It ends with a final hearing, during which the judge resolves outstanding issues and then grants the legal separation if the terms of the separation agreement are fair, just, and equitable.
- As in a divorce, grounds—or a legally accepted reason—are required for legal separation in Ohio. But unlike in a divorce or dissolution, a legal separation does not require the plaintiff to have lived in Ohio for any period of time.
Couples who choose legal separation over divorce or dissolution often do so for one of two reasons:
- Their religion will not allow divorce.
- One spouse may be able to continue to provide health insurance to the other spouse. This isn’t true in all cases, so it’s important to check your health insurance provider’s rules about coverage after legal separation.
If you think legal separation may be the right path for you, contact Lisa today for your free consultation.
Legal Separation in Ohio: Did You Know?
In Ohio, no matter how long a married couple lives in separate households, they are not considered legally separated. The only way to be recognized as legally separated—and have all the rights that come with it—is by obtaining a legal separation.