Is the State of Ohio a No-Fault State?
Interviewer: Is Ohio a no fault state? I’ve heard that some states are no fault and can you explain that?
Adam: Yes, Ohio’s a no fault state. It just means that it doesn’t really matter what the grounds are for divorce; if there was infidelity, anything like that or if it was just cruelty. It’s just a matter of the parties caring about an equitable division of assets and debt.
Interviewer: So if it wasn’t a no fault state that means you had to have some reason to divorce, like infidelity or there has to be some good reason. You couldn’t just get a divorce because you wanted to, right?
Adam: That is correct.
Serving the Complaint for Divorce: If One Spouse Doesn’t Agree
Interviewer: What happens if one of the spouses doesn’t want to get a divorce? One of the spouses might say, say, “I’m not signing the divorce papers.” Can the other spouse still get a divorce?
Adam: Yes, you can still file the complaint for divorce. The other party would just be served and then there are two options. Either they show up in court and contest what the final outcome is or the divorce can be basically almost like a default judgment, on whatever issues that need to be addressed.
Interviewer: Good. So people don’t have to be afraid that if their husband or wife is saying they won’t sign the divorce papers. They can still get a divorce.
Do Men and Women Handle Divorce the Same?
Interviewer: Do you think that men and women handle divorce differently and see it differently?
Adam: No. I see many people who want to come in that have been separated maybe for a period of time, and they’re still a little emotional. Truthfully, the emotional aspect can occur on both sides. You know, men and women. In all honesty, I’ve probably seen more men that were upset, but maybe mot quite as many women.
Adam: Just a little disparity, maybe 60/40, when I see somebody that’s upset.
Interviewer: So you’ve had more men essentially “crying their eyes out” in your office than you’ve had women?
Adam: Usually because they have to pay spousal support; and it’s more that they’re angry about that fact, because typically men make more money.
Both Spouses Are Viewed Equally in Support Issues
Interviewer: That brings up a good question. I’m sure there’s a lot of misconceptions and myths about divorce. In Ohio, is it automatically assumed that the wife’s going to get spousal maintenance or alimony, and she’s going to get custody of the kids? Or are the courts looking at it as to fairness and what the facts are?
Adam: Yeah, that’s basically what the guardian ad litem would do, they’d make a recommendation to the court; frequently, that’s what their job is. So, there’s no disparity as far as who could get support. Men could get the spousal support and they could also get custody of the children just as easily.
Interviewer: Yes, because for a number of years it was the Tender Year Doctrine. That is where they would say that kids should be with their mothers. Are you seeing that it’s become more equitable with pretty much a 50/50 chance for men and women to get custody, if they want to seek it?
Both Spouses Are Viewed Equally in Custody Issues
Adam: Really, the courts are going to look at which individual is in the best position to be able to take care of the child. The decision is based on work schedules or what kind of structure they have set in place for watching the child when the child’s not there. They’ll look at a number of different factors and that’s sometimes where the guardian ad litem comes into play. They can make a recommendation on which the child should go with.
Interviewer: So if there’s a dispute and both sides want custody, what would happen? Would one side want full custody and the other one contests it and then the court will appoint a guardian ad litem? Or how will that be handled?
Appointing a Guardian Ad Litem
Adam: Typically one of the attorneys will make a motion to appoint one. Then the guardian will perform an investigation and submit a report to the court based on their findings. The report will detail who they believe to be the more suitable person or what type of visitation should be instituted. Sometimes, the report may recommend supervised visitation if there’s some issue with one of the parents.
By Adam Hunt