What are the differences between divorce and dissolution in Ohio?

A dissolution and a divorce are both ways to end a marriage in Ohio but the process of doing so differ.

A dissolution ends a marriage with the terms and conditions of the termination of the marriage, including the division of assets and liabilities and any child-related issues, already determined and agreed upon prior to filing for and attending a final court date. Prior to the court date, the spouses have already decided how their possessions are going to be divided.

A dissolution is initiated in the court system with the filing of the Petition for Dissolution and related agreements and pleadings.  Once filed, a court date will be set between thirty and ninety days from the date of filing. At the final hearing, the spouses will appear and relay to the court that they have already agreed upon the details of their marriage dissolution and the court will then sign off on the pleadings and issue a decree of dissolution, terminating the parties’ marriage that day.

A dissolution is usually a much more amicable way of terminating a marriage as opposed to a divorce. When couples agree on the stipulations of their dissolution, this option is popular because it’s an easier and typically faster process than filing for a divorce.

A divorce also terminates a couple’s marriage, but the terms of the division of assets and liabilities and child-related issues are not yet decided when a Complaint for Divorce is filed.  Because parties are not in agreement with all terms when a divorce is filed, a divorce typically takes longer to resolve than a dissolution and has several stages before its conclusion.  This is because, in a divorce, the spouses are asking the court to assist in helping them negotiate the terms of the marriage termination.  If the spouses cannot reach their own agreement, the court will ultimately make the final decision.

Depending on the issues the parties are having and the level of complexity, there are other legal procedures available in a divorce that are not available in a dissolution.  For example, a divorce typically will include a formal discovery process whereby each side asks questions of the other and seeks documentation of matters which will be decided upon in the divorce.  Exchange of documentation and information also will likely take place in a dissolution, but it is a less formal exchange and not governed by Ohio law.


There are many other differences between a divorce and dissolution in Ohio.  Consulting with an experienced attorney is always a good idea, regardless of which route you and your spouse decide to pursue to terminate your marriage.