Family Law and Divorce

What is the typical timeline for a divorce?
The entire process can take as little as several months to as long as several years depending on the couple, the complexity of their situation, and how quickly they are able to come to agreement about the terms of their divorce, custody issues, child support, and property distribution. Some divorce processes like dissolution, divorce mediation, and collaborative divorce tend to be settled more quickly.
What happens to property and assets my spouse and I have accumulated during our marriage?
Most states follow the rules of “equitable distribution” which means the assets and earnings accumulated during marriage are divided equitably (fairly). In Ohio, an equitable division of property means the marital property shall be equal unless the court decides it should be unequal for a specific reason allowed by law. Equitable distribution rules apply to divorces in most states except those occurring in Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin and Puerto Rico, where “community property” rules are followed. Divorce under community property rules means that property will be classified either as “community property” (to be divided among the spouses) or “separate property” (to be kept by the spouse who purchased it or owned it previous to the marriage).
How would I know whether divorce or dissolution is the best way to legally end my marriage?
Dissolution may be appropriate if your situation (relationship, possessions, etc) is less complex. Divorce Mediation or Collaborative Divorce may also be appropriate for less complex/less strained situations. Divorce may be appropriate if your relationship is especially strained, and you are unable to discuss issues rationally with your spouse. It takes both spouses to be willing to peacefully negotiate a reasonable resolution to the issues, but it only takes one party to send the case to litigation, which can easily lead to legal fees of tens of thousands of dollars.
What happens if one spouse doesn’t want to get divorced?
Most states have “no fault” policy about divorce and one spouse cannot stop another from obtaining a divorce. Marriage counselors or divorce mediators may be able to help you come to an agreement about the best solution with your spouse. A family law attorney can advise you of your rights and options.
After divorce, I want to change my name back to my maiden name. How do I go about doing this?
In most states, a formal order requesting the name change can be made to the judge handling your divorce. The name change order can then be included in your divorce decree and certified copies of the order can be used to have your name changed on identification and personal records. If the divorce is already final and you’d like to change your name now, you may be able to make a formal request to have the decree modified to include the name change order after the fact. Name changes in Ohio can also be made through County Probate Court.
How do I prove paternity for my child’s father whom I would like to begin paying child support?
Paternity can be established voluntarily by both parents through an “Acknowledge of Paternity Affidavit” filled out at the hospital after birth or at a County Child Support Enforcement Agency. If you are not certain about who the father is or if the alleged father is contesting the paternity, a genetic test may be performed. The test is performed with a simple “buccal swab” or sponge-like swab swiped inside the cheek of the mother, the child, and the alleged father. The swabs are then sent out for DNA testing. Genetic tests will be paid for by the state in most cases and results are usually available within three weeks. Additional information about paternity establishment can be found through the County Child Support Enforcement Agency. See “Where to Read More” in the family law secton for links.
What happens if my health benefits were provided by my soon-to-be ex-spouse’s employer?
After divorce, you will no longer be able to remain part of the same policy but you will qualify for Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act or COBRA group coverage benefits, from your spouse’s employer, at your own expense, for up to 36 months. It can be expensive to pay for health benefits through COBRA; if health benefits are available through your current employer or through a future employer, they may be more affordable and worth investigating.
How do I get a marriage license in Ohio?
Marriage licenses in Ohio are typically obtained at the County clerk office in the county in which you want to be married. In Columbus, licenses are obtained at 373 South High Street, County Courthouse, 23rd Floor. Court hours are 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM Monday - Friday.

In Franklin County, you'll need $50 cash for the license. Both marriage applicants must apply together, in person. The marriage license may be obtained in Franklin County if one of the applicants is a resident of Franklin County ~or~ if neither of the applicants is a resident of the State of Ohio, but the marriage ceremony is taking place in Franklin County. A valid picture I.D. with social security number and date of birth is required. If the applicant's address on the I.D. does not reflect that they live in Franklin County, they'll need to bring proof (i.e. utility bill, pay stub, etc.) . A certified copy of the applicant's birth certificate and a social security card or verification of the social security number (i.e. driver's license) will also be accepted. The marriage license may be used anywhere in the State of Ohio. The minimum age for applying for a license in Ohio, without parental consent, is eighteen (18) years of age. No blood tests or physical examinations are required in Ohio.

For questions about Ohio marriage licenses or to arrange a civil ceremony, please call the Courthouse at (614) 645-8162 or visit their marriage license web page at In Ohio, you are permitted to begin filling out your marriage license application online; a link to the on-line marriage application is available on the above webpage.