Home Feedback
Criminal Law
Personal Injury
Wrongful Death
Auto Accidents
Landlord /Tenant Law
Buying a Home
Legal Terms
Attorney David P. Drew
3435 Kent Rd., Suite #2A
Stow, Ohio 44224
Akron: (330) 689-1529
Fax: (330) 688-2999
Alliance: (330) 777-4240
Bedford: (440) 399-0199
Berea : (440) 625-2800
Canton: (330) 777-4241
Cambridge: (740) 994-3577
Cleveland: (216) 744-2755
Columbus: (614) 437-5244
Elyria: (440) 625-2799
Lisbon: (330) 777-4242
Mansfield: (419) 989-6730
Medina: (330) 777-4243
Northfield: (330) 777-4244
Painesville: (440) 210-7255
Ravenna: (330) 777-4245
Sandusky: (440) 625-2788
Toledo: (419) 989-6737
Warren: (330) 777-4246
Legal Separation, Divorce, and Dissolution


Attorney David P. Drew is a competent divorce lawyer and can provide legal counsel on; divorce, child custody, visitation, alimony, spousal support, parenting, mediation, and other family law related issues pertinent to Ohio.  The law in Ohio provides three ways for a husband and wife to end or alter their marital relationship: Legal Separation, Divorce and Dissolution of Marriage. To obtain a Dissolution or Divorce, you must be a resident of Ohio for at least six months before filing. There is no residency requirement for persons seeking a Legal Separation.  

Legal Separation

This is a civil lawsuit, which does not legally end a marriage, but allows the court to issue orders concerning division of property, spousal support, allocation of parental rights and responsibilities, child support and companionship for any minor children. The parties remain married, but live separately. When a court grants the Legal Separation, each party must follow the specific orders of the court.


Divorce is a civil lawsuit to end a marriage. The court will also issue orders concerning the property, support and children. A divorce, like a legal separation, is a dispute in which the husband and wife do not agree on a resolution of their problems and are asking the court to make the final decision.

One spouse, the “plaintiff,” files a document called the Complaint with the Clerk of Courts, commences a Legal Separation or a Divorce. In this initial Complaint the plaintiff must select, and eventually prove, the appropriate grounds from those listed in the statutes. Discuss with your attorney your reasons or your spouse's behavior, which you believe, justifies the filing of the lawsuit. 

The Clerk of Courts serves the defendant a copy of the Complaint and a Summons by either certified mail, delivering a copy of it to the person directly, or leaving it at defendant's residence with a person over the age of eighteen (18). If the residence of the defendant is not known, service may be obtained by publication.

Within twenty-eight (28) days after the defendant has been served, an Answer, is filed, which gives the defendant's response to the Complaint. The defendant can also file a Counterclaim, requesting either a Legal Separation or a Divorce, by stating the grounds the defendant believes are applicable. The plaintiff responds to the Counterclaim by filing a Reply. 

During the course of the litigation many, if not most, suits are settled by way of an agreement between the parties. A document called a Separation Agreement is prepared and signed by the parties. This agreement is submitted to the court for approval. When approved, the agreement is given legal effect by a Journal Entry of the court.

Dissolution of Marriage

Dissolution of Marriage is an action where the parties mutually agree to terminate their marriage. Neither party has to prove grounds to terminate a marriage by Dissolution. This action is only commenced after the Husband and Wife have fully agreed in a Separation Agreement to a settlement of all of the property, spousal support, and child issues, where applicable. After the joint filing of the Petition for Dissolution, the petitioners, husband and wife, must wait at least thirty (30) days before the court can hear their case. The case must be heard within ninety (90) days of filing. At the hearing the court will review the Separation Agreement and ask about the assets and liabilities and whether the parties are satisfied with the settlement, among other things. If the court is satisfied that the agreement is fair, the parties agree and desire to terminate their marriage the court will grant Dissolution and order the Separation Agreement into effect.

Division of Property

Ohio statutes define marital and separate property. Marital property is property, whether real, personal, or intangible, acquired during the marriage including increases in value of separate property due to work effort, labor or contribution of marital money to increase in value and appreciation of the property. Separate property is all real, personal and intangible property from an inheritance; property owned before the marriage; income or appreciation from separate property that does not result from the labor or substantial effort of one of the parties during the marriage; a gift after the date of the marriage that is proved to be made to only one spouse; an award for personal injury except to the extent the award represents compensation for lost wages occurring during the marriage; and several other types as defined in the law.

By applying the rules in the statute, the court makes a determination as to what is or is not marital property. The marital property is divided equally unless the court explains in writing why an equal division would not be fair. In making the award, the court must apply the eight specific factors listed in the statute and any other factors it expressly finds relevant and equitable.

The court also has the authority to make a “distributive award”. This is an award made from separate property of either party to facilitate, effectuate, or supplement and award of marital property to achieve equity between the parties. When a party has engaged in financial misconduct such as hidden property, dissipating money or funds, or disposing of funds fraudulently, then the court has the authority to make an award out of the separate property of the offending spouse or a greater award of marital property to compensate the other party.

Spousal Support

Changes in the law of Ohio have developed the term “spousal support” for what used to be called alimony. Spousal support is awarded to assist in the sustenance and maintenance of a spouse after a property division has been awarded. Thirteen (13) specific factors are listed in the statute to be considered by the court in making an award. Some of these factors are ages of the parties, the length of the marriage, the earning ability of the parties, health of the parties, and standard of living during the marriage. The court may also consider any other factors it expressly finds relevant. 

Allocation Of Parental Rights and Responsibilities

Formerly, the Ohio courts awarded custody of the children to one party or the other. Now, the court makes an allocation of the parental rights and responsibilities between the parties based on the best interest of the children. These rights relate to those children who are not yet age 18 and graduated high school. The preferred mode for awarding these rights and responsibilities is by Shared Parenting. If a plan for care of the children is submitted by one or both of the parties then the court will award shared parenting, however, if the court finds the plan (s) is not in the best interest of the children it can amend the plan or deny shared parenting altogether. If no plan is submitted, then the court will award the parental responsibilities to one of the parents, naming the parent as the residential parent and the legal custodian of the child. 

If one or both of the parties request, the court must speak to a child concerning the child's wishes about whom should be the residential parent and legal guardian of the child. The court is not bound by the decision of the child in these matters; it is only one factor to be considered. Other factors taken into account include the child's mental, emotional and psychological development; the interaction of the child with other important persons in the child's life; and the adjustment to the school, community and home. The court may consider factors such as whether support has been paid, visitation has been allowed, or if there is any abuse, that reflects upon the ability of one of the parties to be a custodial parent. If one of the parents intends to leave the state permanently, will also be a factor for the consideration of the court.  

Visitation of Companionship Rights

In every case involving children, the court must make an award that includes a specific schedule for visitation or companionship with the parents. The primary consideration is the best interest of the children. Ohio statutes provide many factors to be considered in making the determination. Each county in Ohio is to have a standard order of visitation. These standard orders of visitation can be changed to meet the needs of individual children. In appropriate cases the court can also award companionship rights with non-parents. 

Child Support

Ohio law provide that the amount of child support is to be determined by the following procedure set forth in the Ohio Revised Code. The combined income of the parties is calculated and adjusted according to the worksheets specified by the statutes. The court then refers to the mandatory basic support schedules to determine the amount of support. These schedules are based upon the income shares model. A determination has been made as to the average cost of raising children in households across a wide range of incomes. The child support obligation is divided according to the percentage each party has of total combined annual income of the parties; as are childcare expenses incurred to allow the parties to work. The amount of support determined by these calculations is presumed to be appropriate. The court has discretion, in certain circumstances listed in the statute, to deviate from basic support tables where it would be inequitable to apply the basic support. The court will also issue orders for the medical needs of the children, including insurance. Child support must be paid to the designated Support Enforcement Agency, usually by a wage order on the employer. 

Temporary orders are orders that the court issues to be effective during the time the case is pending before the final decision. The person seeking the temporary orders will file a motion with the court for such things as the use of marital residence, allocation of parental rights, support of minor children, spousal support and assignment of responsibility to pay marital debt such as the house or rental payments, car payments, insurance, utilities, finance companies and charge accounts. These temporary orders are not necessarily what the court will award as a final order when the case is resolved. 

The court upon formal request, if appropriate may modify all temporary orders and restraining orders. Temporary orders, unless modified, usually remain in effect and are enforceable from the time the court approves the order until the final action is granted.

What Are My Responsibilities as a Client?

You have established an attorney/client relationship with a lawyer who will present your demands and requests to the court. You have responsibilities to your attorney as a client, and to the court as a party to a legal action. Your attorney will have experience in this area and will guide you through the process, so do what your attorney asks you to do.

Clearly communicate to your attorney what it is that you want and what your priorities are. Do not force your attorney to guess what you want accomplished.

Be open and truthful with your attorney. If it is established through evidence that you have been untruthful or if you have lied to the court, you may be legally penalized by the court. Your communications with your attorney are confidential. Your attorney will not reveal embarrassing or harmful information which you may have disclosed, but by knowing all the facts your attorney can help you plan the best way to correct or minimize the harmful information. If you fail to disclose important facts to your attorney, you are not being truthful. Surprises in court will leave you and your attorney dissatisfied and at a disadvantage in resolving your legal matter.

You have asked the court for certain help or relief. The court's method of addressing and resolving your problems is to issue court orders. Even if you are not in agreement with the court's orders, you must comply with or obey the orders. If you do not comply or obey, you may be legally penalized. You will also put the presentation of your case at a disadvantage and may experience delay in the final resolution. If you believe certain orders are unfair, you can discuss with your attorney possible ways to have the court make modifications, but until orders are formally changed, you must follow the orders.

Put the law on your side and call Attorney David P. Drew for competent, legal representation for your divorce or other family law.  (330) 689-1529.