Tag Archives: divorce

The Different Divorce Options in Ohio

The Different Divorce Options in OhioAs is common in many states, there are generally three ways to end a marriage in Ohio.  From easiest (and often least expensive) to often ugliest and most costly, they are: (1) non-contested divorce; (2) dissolution; and (3) contested divorce. 

In each case, the same legal forms are indicated and are determined by county.  One of the biggest reasons to retain legal counsel in any of these situations in Ohio is that each county is different and some counties are very different indeed.  The wrong forms or formats can add many months and many thousands of dollars to the end of a marriage.  Even with trained legal counsel, this process can be time-intensive and tricky.  Though people legally can “do it themselves” (termed “pro se”), it is often best to pay the money to get it done efficiently, completely, and with finality. This is especially true where minor children are involved.  Courts often have little patience for pro se litigants making mistakes and “ignorance is never an excuse under the law”.

Without children, in most Ohio counties the necessary documents include: (1) the complaint for divorce; and (2) the separation agreement.  With minor children, add on several additional forms and a shared parenting agreement.  Whether custody will be full, shared, or joint, there are details to be completed.

Non-Contested Divorce

A non-contested divorce is just that; not contested.  In this form, the represented Plaintiff fills out the preliminary paperwork and then serves the forms and prepared documents upon the Defendant. Once service is perfected, the Defendant has three options: (1) contest or fight the complaint; (2) sign off and not contest; or (3) do nothing.  In the latter two cases, the court will allow the allotted 28-day answer period; then schedule the case for a final, non-contested hearing.  In that case, the Defendant need not even appear at the final hearing.  The Plaintiff appears with a witness to testify and attest that: (1) they know the Plaintiff; (2) the Plaintiff has resided in Ohio at least 180 days; (3) the Plaintiff has resided in the subject county for at least 90 days; and (4) the Plaintiff and Defendant meet the cause of action claim used for the divorce (e.g., incompatibility, residing apart for at least one contiguous year, gross neglect, etc.).  Non-contested divorces can be the fastest and least expensive option for ending a marriage in Ohio; as long as they stay non-contested.


A dissolution happens when both Plaintiff and Defendant decide on everything and decide those terms together and in (relative) harmony.  One attorney handles the paperwork for both parties, but can only represent one of the parties.  The other party is dealt with honestly and openly, but must represent him- or her-self pro se.  Once the dissolution is approved by the court, both parties are responsible for what they signed; represented or not.  Dissolutions can be as fast and inexpensive as a non-contested divorce.  The concern with dissolutions is that if at any point there is divergence of wants and desires, the case can quickly become contested (and contentious).  At that point, it is the ethical obligation of the attorney to end negotiations, tell the unrepresented party that the case has become contested, and recommend he or she retain private legal counsel of their own.

Contested Divorce

Finally, a contested divorce is just what you would expect; a fight!  These can become ugly; with children used as pawns in a nasty chess game and the two sides fighting over the silverware.

These three pathways are not mutually exclusive.  In other words, a non-contested divorce or dissolution can become contested and, in rare cases, a contested situation can end quietly and equitably.  The bottom line is this: the best thing a divorce attorney can do is to evaluate the situation and help his or her client decide which path to take for maximum gain and minimum pain in a situation usually defined by pain and heartache.


The Zen of Divorce


Mark J. Bamberger, Esq., Owner and Attorney at Law

The Mark Bamberger Co., LLC

Offices in Tipp City (Dayton), West Chester, and Enon, Ohio


To divorce or not to divorce; that is not only the question, but often the life choice. The painful and agonizing decision to separate one’s life from another that they once loved, if not cherished, can be the worst of the worst of times. Even in today’s challenged economy, the decision to get a dissolution or divorce is often the hardest decision someone has to make in their entire lives.


Our parents used to say that we “stayed together for the kids”. However, our culture came to realize that two functional homesteads were often better for the kids than one dysfunctional one. Although separation is a traumatic and very complex condition, there are additional legal considerations that make it even more complex. It is my job as their legal “counselor” to help them weigh all the options. The word “counselor” is apt since in those trying times I seem to be more emotional support mechanism than attorney.


In many cases, the other party in the divorce is represented by counsel, which makes my job a lot easier. It is usually far easier and more efficient to deal with another professional and clear-thinking attorney to get a divorce completed. In some nightmarish scenarios, the other side represents themselves “pro-se” (by themselves). This can be painful since the other side is often too arrogant, too prideful, and/or too poor to retain counsel. There’s a reason we go to law school and have to pass a 20-hour bar exam!


So many times, we at The Mark Bamberger Co., LLC deal with divorce affiliated with bankruptcy, or civil litigation, or even criminal defense. We try to counsel those retaining us for their divorce representation that all these other myriad issues may also come into play. Often, filing a bankruptcy is the best way to get out from under staggering debt that could haunt each of the divorcing parties and their progeny for a generation to come. We tell our clients that if they file bankruptcy on joint debts (those held jointly between both spouses), the creditors will visit their harassment and court actions on the other soon-to-be-ex spouse. Not all of our clients are upset at that prospect. In many situations, bankruptcy (especially under Chapter 7 of the bankruptcy code) allows a “new start”.


Some of our clients favor a dissolution; where both parties sit down and decide issues like parental custody, parental visitation, child and/or spousal support, and personal and real property separation. This can be a civil, reasonably fast, and inexpensive way to divorce in Ohio and most other jurisdictions. Others will attempt a non-contested divorce, where my staff prepares the documents and terms for our client. Here, we file the necessary materials with the court and perfect service to the Defendant (other spouse) to make sure they received the documents. The Defendant then has 28 days (in reality much more) to either do nothing, agree, or contest the terms. If they contest, it becomes a contested divorce, which needless to say is the most expensive, time-consuming, and often painful option. We have had many cases that began non-contested or a dissolution, then became contested (read “ugly”). Not often do they go the other way, but it can happen,

The bottom line is this; divorce is complicated; emotionally, financially, and legally. We at The Mark Bamberger Co., LLC try to counsel our clients about the inter-disciplinary aspects of divorce and help them navigate through some of the most traumatic and painful months of their lives. It is never easy, but usually the sun does shine after the rainfall of tears has stopped.


MJB 4/11

Family Law

At The Mark Bamberger Law Co. LLC, we recognize that going through a divorce can be a difficult, emotional experience. Our family law focus strives to guide individuals and their families through this traumatic time with dignity, sensitivity and the utmost respect. We are committed to protecting clients’ rights while preserving relationships with the children involved. Call us at (877) 644-8181.

With our extensive business experience, we are able to handle even the most complex financial issues involved in a divorce.
Experienced Divorce, Child Custody, Adoption and Visitation Rights Lawyers

We have experience and represent clients in the following areas:

* Divorce (contested and uncontested)
* Asset Division
* Separation
* Annulments
* Alimony
* Child Custody
* Child Support
* Visitation
* Grandparents’ Rights
* Pre and Post-Nuptial Agreements
* Modifications
* Domestic Violence
* Restraining Orders
* Paternity
* Mediation
* Adoptions

For more information about divorce, child custody, adoption, or any other family issues, or to schedule a consultation, contact the firm experienced in Ohio family law, The Mark Bamberger Law Co. LLC by calling us at (877) 644-8181.