There are two types of basic divorce proceedings in Ohio:
• In a dissolution, both spouses agree that neither is at fault and have agreed to all the terms of their separation.
• Divorces mean that there is some area of disagreement. This may include one spouse not consenting to proposed alimony payments, visitation rights or other areas of dispute.
Filing fees for dissolutions are lower than those for divorces, although the fees for both procedures are higher if there are children involved. The filing fees vary county by county but generally are within the range of $200-300. Couples who cannot agree on the terms of their separation may decide to pay for the services of an attorney acting as a mediator. This kind of negotiation may be successful in producing a legally binding agreement. However, should no compromise be arranged, the attorney may not represent either spouse in court.
If the spouse filing the petition for divorce cannot afford the fee, they may complete a poverty affidavit signed by a public notary. This will waive the fee for the duration of the trial. However, after a separation ruling has been issued, one spouse will be responsible for paying the fee.
If one spouse disputes the petition for divorce, they must file a formal response for a fee of around $100. Additional motions or counterclaims can add to the expenses. Throughout the pretrial process, spouses will attend pre-trial, court-sponsored meetings at which a counselor will attempt to help the two reach an agreement over the terms of separation. The spouses may choose to be represented by an attorney during this hearings. Additional fees are not charged for these pretrial hearings.
Private legal counsel can be expensive. Most attorneys will charge for their fees on an hourly basis, and you can easily expect to pay in excess of $200/hr. For this reason, if you decide to engage private legal counsel, it is vital that you receive a detailed, written estimation of how much hourly work you can expect to be billed for leading up to trial, in what increments you will pay, and how often you will be expected make a payment.
If a spouse chooses to file a request for temporary or permanent monthly alimony payments, the judge will take into consideration:
• The standard of living established during the marriage
• Both parties’ earning potential
• Both parties’ age, physical and emotional health
• Any tax consequences of a proposed payment plan
• How much time a spouse needs to become self-supporting
Child support payments may also be established by a judge, who takes into consideration:
• Medical expenses
• Income disparity between the two parents’ households
• The child’s earning capacity
• The child’s physical and emotional needs
• Large visitation expenses
In awarding these payments, the court is not allowed to take into consideration such factors as adultery or other marital misconduct.