The Divorce Process in Ohio for Couples Who Do Not Have Children Born of the Marriage

Obtaining a divorce is often simpler when there are either no children that born from the marriage or when the children are grown.  Complications arise when one or more spouse has children from another relationship or the parties had children together before they were married.  However, the factor that usually contributes to having a long drawn out divorce is a highly contested custody battle.  In the absence of children, it is usually much quicker and easier to get a divorce, unless there are complicated or significant assets of the marriage. 

The attorneys at Harris & Engler try to make the divorce process simple for you, and you can talk to an attorney today by calling (614) 610-9988.  Depending on the assets and debts of the marriage and your ability to reach an agreement with your soon to be ex spouse, it may be possible to get a relatively quick and easy divorce.  The attorneys at Harris & Engler will help you obtain a quick divorce if possible and will be there to best look after your interests and help you navigate through the process if a quick divorce is not possible. The law firm of Harris & Engler is located in Columbus, Ohio, and its attorneys help clients obtain divorces across Central Ohio.

Divorce or Dissolution?

The only reason to get a divorce instead of a dissolution when there are no children from the marriage is because the parties cannot agree on how to divide up the property that was acquired from the marriage.  You can read more about divorce v. dissolution here.  

Columbus Attorneys for Divorce With No Children

When you're going through a divorce, it helps to have an experienced divorce attorney on your side.  If you need a divorce attorney in the central Ohio area, then call (614) 610-9988.  

An Overview of the Divorce Process in Ohio for Couples with Children Born of the Marriage

A divorce with children, especially minor children, typically makes for a more difficult divorce process in Ohio.  The attorneys at Harris & Engler try to make your divorce with children as quick and easy as possible for you and your kids.  Otherwise, when the parties to a marriage cannot agree on who gets time with the children (and when), and who pays child support (and how much), then those issues must be submitted to a judge who will decide.

There is hardly a more important issue than the custody of your child or visitation rights with your child.  The law firm of Harris & Engler has attorneys experienced with all issues surrounding getting a divorce with children.  The law firm of Harris & Engler is located in Columbus, Ohio, and its attorneys help clients successfully navigate all issues surrounding getting a divorce with children all over Central Ohio.

Parenting Issues in Divorce

Often there will be a spouse who during the marriage was otherwise an absent parent and then all of the sudden during divorce they want equal or full custody of the children. Sometimes the motivation for doing this is simply to have lower child support payments.  However, equally frequent is when a parent who was largely an absentee parent during the marriage will want to fight hard to ensure that they do not continue to be an absentee parent after the marriage is terminated by acquiring court ordered parenting time.  These issues can be resolved with the assistance of an attorney experienced with issues that frequently arise when getting a divorce with children in Columbus and greater Central Ohio.  Many issues regarding a dispute over child custody also require the appointment of a Guardian Ad Litem.

The Guardian Ad Litem's Role in Ohio

A Guardian Ad Litem is a court appointed advocate for the children.  Each parent in a divorce usually has an attorney as their advocate, and a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) is an advocate for the children.  It is usually recommended that a Guardian Ad Litem be appointed for contested custody divorces because the GAL will personally investigate the children's situation and interview the children in order to come to their own opinion of who should have child custody.  The appointment of a Guardian Ad Litem drives up the costs of a divorce because the parties have to pay the Guardian Ad Litem's fees as well as their own attorneys' fees.  You can read more about Guardian Ad Litem's here.  

What to Expect When Going Through a Divorce with Children in Ohio

When the parties to a marriage are both trying to get full custody of the children, then the Court will look at a number of factors in order to determine which parent is better suited for the role.  First and foremost, the Court will always make a determination as to what is in the best interest of the children.  

In order to determine which parent should be the child's sole custodian, the court will consider the relative incomes of each party, the support structure of each party (friends and family), the geographic location of each parent, the desires of the child, the personal history of each parent with the children (has the parent been absent/primary caretaker), and any other factor that could serve as an indication of what parent would be a better suited parent.  You can read more about child custody here.  

Are Your Responsible For Your Spouse's Debt in Ohio?

Generally, the answer is no.  However, there are a few situations where you can be held liable for your spouse's debt, or you will be directly affected by it.  When any kind of debt is taken out in just one person's name, it is only that person who is liable for the debt. Creditors will try to convince parents and spouses that they are liable for someone else's debt, but if this happens it is generally a lie and you should contact an attorney about possible actions against the creditor.  

When Creditors Can Seize Your Assets to Collect On Your Spouse's Debt

You can be directly affected by your spouse's debts when creditors seize jointly held assets.  In Ohio, if a creditor has a judgment (obtained by filing a lawsuit and winning), they can garnish the debtor's bank accounts or file a lien on all real property owned by the debtor, and foreclose on the real property in order to collect the debt.  

You can be affected by your spouse's debts if you have any joint bank accounts or own any real property jointly with your spouse.  Even though the money in the bank account or the real property is half yours, the creditor can take all of it if necessary to satisfy your spouse's debt.

When Creditors Can Go After You Personally For Your Spouse's Individual Debts

There is a body of law known as the "Doctrine of Necessaries" that is codified as ORC 3103.03.  This law provides that if a married person or a parent neglects to support their spouse or their child, and any other person supplies the neglected spouse or child with necessary support, then that third person can sue the spouse/parent for the reasonable value of support that they provided.  

The Doctrine of Necessaries limits liability to "necessary support," which is usually interpreted to mean things like food, clothing, shelter, and medical care.  What this all means is that if you are unable to provide certain necessary items to your spouse or child, and someone else (or a business) provides those items to your spouse or child, then they can sue you to recover their costs.  

This doctrine originated at a time when women did not really have any rights, and they lacked the right to form contracts- meaning that women were not able to get credit. Thus, when the woman of the house would purchase necessary items such as food and clothing for the household, any merchants who lent the items on credit could not recover their costs unless they could sue the husband for the value of goods provided.   

This has had the effect today of having medical providers who provide care and services to one spouse to go after the other spouse, even though the other spouse never signed anything and never intended to pay for the medical debt of the spouse who incurred the debt.  

This doctrine has been tempered in Ohio with the language that a married person or a parent must provide necessary support to their spouse or child to the extent that they are able to do so from their property or their labor.  This means that if you were unable to pay medical bills at the time your spouse incurred them, then by the law the medical provider should not be able to collect from you.  As a practical concern, the medical provider will still go after you to try to collect on the medical debts of your spouse or child.

If you are having problems with your spouse's or your child's creditors, contact an attorney at Harris & Engler to discuss your options, call (614) 610-9988.  

Legal Obligations of Marriage in Ohio

Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival.  Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1, 12 (1967), quoting Skinner v. Oklahoma, 316 U.S. 535, 541 (1942).  Marriage is not without its burdens and obligations.  In Ohio, marriage is a contract requiring mutual respect, fidelity, and support.  Ohio Revised Code section 3103.01.  

Duty of Support

The duty of support has big implications, and repurcussions if those duties are not met.  Each person in a marriage has the legal duty to support their spouse and their children through efforts of their labor or through use of their property.  Ohio Revised Code section 3103.03.

What Happens if a Person Doesn't Support Their Spouse?

In Ohio, if a person neglects to support their spouse, any other person who supplies the spouse with reasonably necessary living items (food, clothing, shelter, etc.), can recover the reasonable value of those items from the person who neglected to provide them to their spouse (by filing a civil lawsuit).  



Three Ways to Purchase a Home as an Unmarried Couple

Unmarried couples basically have three options when it comes to purchasing a home together.  They can purchase the home as Joint Tenant with Rights of Survivorship, Tenants in Common, or neither.  When purchasing a home together as an unmarried couple, you must decide if you want the property to automatically pass on to your significant other if you die; or if you want to be able to bequeth your share of the property to someone else through your will or through a trust.  You must also decide if you want to purchase the home together with equal or unequal shares of ownership.

Purchasing a Home as Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship

Purchasing a home as joint tenants with right of survivorship is the most common form of home ownership for couples.  Joint tenancy with right of survivorship means that each person owns the undivided whole of the home.  One person cannot exclude the other.  Both persons have co-equal ownership of the entire home.  According to Ohio statute, each tenant has equal right to share in the use, occupancy, and profit of the property, and each of the survivorship tenants is subject to a proportionate share of the costs related to ownership and use of the property.  When one person dies, their ownership share automatically passes to the other tenant.  For example, if Tom and Sue own a house as joint tenants with right of survivorship and then Tom dies, then automatically upon his death Sue owns the entire house.  

Purchasing a Home as Tenants in Common

Purchasing a home as tenants in common has advantages if unequal ownership shares is desirable.  With tenants in common, the property can be purchased as a percentage of ownership.  For example, if one person makes the entire downpayment and wants an extra ownership share in the property because they spent more money on the house, then they could purchase the home with something like a 70% - 30% split of ownership.  Additionally, each partner can sell all or a portion of their fractional interest or can devise it to anyone by will.  Owning a home as tenants in common is a good option if you want to leave your ownership share of the home to someone other than the person living in the home with you.  This option also would be necessary if you do not want to be equal owners of the home with the other owner.  

Contact an Attorney to Purchase a Home as an Unmarried Couple

If you want to talk to an attorney knowledgeable in the unmarried couple rights and Ohio real property law, then contact an attorney at Harris & Engler to discuss how to best structure your purchase of a home.  Call (614) 610-9988 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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Disclaimer:  Harris & Engler offers this website and the content on it for informational purposes only, as a service for our clients and friends.  The contents of this site are not considered legal advice for any purpose, and you should not consider them as such advice or as legal opinion on any matters. 

With Offices Located at: 30 Northwoods Blvd., Suite 350, Columbus, Ohio 43235
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