Ohio Divorce Laws

In Ohio, filing for divorce can be an emotionally draining process. One way to ease the emotion involved in this process is to understand a little more about the laws that affect it.

Who Can File for Divorce and On What Grounds

To file for divorce in Ohio, the plaintiff must be a resident of the state for at least six months prior to filing. The couple also must file on appropriate grounds. Ohio allows for no fault divorce based on one of two factors: either the couple has lived separate for a full year without interruption, or one declares incompatibility that is not denied by either party.

Fault divorce can be filed in Ohio on one of the following reasons:

  • Either spouse is found to have another husband or wife living at the time of the marriage
  • Willful absence of a party for a period of one year
  • Adultery
  • Extreme cruelty
  • Fraudulent contract
  • Gross neglect of duty
  • Habitual drunkenness
  • Imprisonment at the time of the filing
  • A divorce received in another state that frees one party from the marriage but leaves the other party obligated to remain in the marriage

Members of the military may file for divorce in Ohio if they meet the residency requirements. Determining whether or not you meet the residency requirements when you serve in the armed forces may be challenging, so using an attorney who is knowledgeable in these matters is a good idea.

Division of Property

Ohio is an equitable distribution state. That means that property in a divorce will be divided based on what is equal, not necessarily what is fair. Courts will encourage couples to come to their own settlements, but when this is not possible they will look at the following factors when making a determination:

  • Length of the marriage
  • Assets and liabilities of each spouse
  • Desire to give the family home to the custodial parent
  • The liquidity of properties in question
  • Whether it is economically desirable to keep a particular asset intact
  • Tax consequences
  • Costs of any sale of an asset
  • Any agreement made in a separation agreement between the spouses
  • Any other factor the courts deem necessary

Child Custody

Children in a divorce often suffer emotional trauma, and when determining custody arrangements, the Ohio courts will work to lessen this by looking for what is in the child’s best interests. Factors considered in these cases may include:

  • The wishes of the parents
  • The wishes of the child
  • The child’s relationship with parents, siblings, and other individuals in the homes
  • The child’s adjustment to home, school, and community
  • Whether a parent has failed to make child support payments
  • Mental and physical health issues
  • Whether the parents are likely to honor and facilitate visitation and companionship times
  • Whether any parent has been convicted of child abuse or neglect
  • Whether the custodial parent has denied another parent’s right to parenting time
  • Whether a parent has a residence outside of the state


In some cases, Ohio courts will determine that one spouse needs to pay support to another after a divorce. The factors that will determine the amount include:

  • Income of each of the parties
  • Earning capacity and abilities of the parties
  • Age, physical, mental, and emotional health concerns
  • Retirement benefits
  • Length of the marriage
  • Whether or not a custodial parent should seek employment outside of the home
  • Standard of living established during the marriage
  • Education of each party
  • Assets and liabilities of each party
  • Contribution of the parties to the education, training, and earning capacity of the other
  • Tax consequences
  • Time and expense of receiving further job training
  • Lost income capacity due to a party’s marital responsibilities

Child support is determined based on the Income Shares Model. This awards a monthly amount to the custodial parent based on the idea that the parents share the support costs equally in proportion to their incomes.