Information about Divorce

If spouses do not agree on whether to divorce or how to handle property, parenting and support issues, one spouse may file a Complaint for Divorce. The person filing the Complaint (the “Plaintiff”) must have lived in Ohio for six months before filing and, generally, in Henry County for 90 days. The person being sued for divorce (the “Defendant”) has 28 days after being served with the Complaint to file an Answer  if he or she intends to contest the divorce. If the Defendant wants the divorce to be awarded to him or her, the Defendant may counter sue by filing a Counterclaim with the Answer. The plaintiff must claim, and eventually prove, the appropriate statutory grounds against the other spouse.

Under Ohio Revised Code §3105.01 a divorce may be granted for the following reasons:

· Either party had a husband or wife living at the time of the marriage from which the divorce is sought

· Willful absence of the other spouse for one year

· Adultery

· Incompatibility, unless denied by either party

· Extreme cruelty

· Fraudulent contract

· Any gross neglect of duty

· Habitual drunkenness

· Imprisonment of the other spouse in a state or federal correctional institution at the time of filing the complaint

· One spouse gets a divorce outside of Ohio, that ends the marriage itself, but does not resolve issues relating to property division, payment of debt, parenting, support, or other issues

· Living separate and apart from your spouse without cohabitation for one or more years


If the Defendant fails to file an answer after being served with the Complaint, an “uncontested” trial will be scheduled. The Plaintiff must testify about the grounds alleged for the divorce, and bring a witness to corroborate his or her testimony. The Plaintiff must also provide evidence about the value of assets, debts, support, and the parenting needs of any minor children. Generally, assets and debts will be divided and parenting and support issues decided according to the Plaintiff’s request. This process takes about two months.

If the Defendant files an Answer, or an Answer and Counterclaim, the case is considered “contested”. One or more hearings, called “pre-trials”, will be scheduled to determine what actions must be taken before trial and to narrow the issues to be heard. At “trial” the Court will hear evidence on all issues the parties have been unable to resolve by agreement. "Contested" cases can be very time consuming and expensive. Often, the parties eventually reach agreement on some or all issues. If the parties can “settle” all issues they will sign a “separation agreement” or an “in-court agreement” which states the terms of the settlement which the Court will order into effect


In a dissolution, the parties agree to end the marriage. They also agree, before filing any papers, to property division, payment of debts, allocation of parental rights and responsibilities and child and/or spousal support, and other such matters. In dissolution cases, the parties do not have to allege or prove any grounds for divorce. To obtain the court’s approval for a dissolution, the husband and wife must enter into a separation agreement that both parties sign and that is attached to the request for dissolution. When the court reviews the separation agreement and the dissolution request, it is concerned that the separation agreement is fair to both parties and that the agreement makes appropriate provisions for any children. If the court approves eh separation agreement and the dissolution request, it issues an order dissolving the marriage.

Henry County Family Court