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Annulment, Dissolution or Divorce?


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Rarely used, a Court may terminate a marriage through a procedure called an annulment, which is usually found on the basis of a legal mistake.


The parties reach an agreement on all terms for terminating the marriage before filing a petition and separation agreement. A hearing is usually held within sixty (60) days. We encourage parties to reach their own agreement.

Separation Agreement

A Separation Agreement saves a lot of time, saves a lot of attorneys fees and you get to draft your own settlement as opposed to living with a judgment from a judge you’ve never met. A separation agreement must address the following issues:

  • Real estate. Who gets the property, whether it’s sold, and who bears the cost of mortgages, insurance, maintenance and real estate taxes?
  • Allocation of parental rights. Who is the residential parent? What kind of time does the non-residential parent receive? Holidays? Oftentimes, the parents agree on the Ashtabula County Standard Order of Companionship. A copy of the document can be found here.
    1. Child support, determined by the statutory guidelines.
    2. Medical insurance and how costs are divided not covered by insurance.
    3. Exemption for state and federal income taxes
  • Division of real and personal property. Who gets what?
    1. Marital property (including pensions), usually acquired during the marriage, is usually divided equally between the parties.
    2. Separate property, usually property acquired outside the marriage or through gift or inheritance, is usually not divided.
      • Please note that marital/separate property issues can be very complicated.
  • Division of debt.
  • Spousal support- both the amount and the term.
  • Whether the wife wants to be restored to a former name.


Essentially the last resort for people who just cannot agree or if there are domestic violence issues. Divorce is expensive and time-consuming, and the Court will still require that you take a parenting class and undergo mediation.

Most divorces still are resolved by an agreement and not a court trial.

Common issues include:

  • Child custody. The Court will look at the following factors, among others:
    1. Wishes of the child
    2. Child’s adjustments to family, school, community
    3. Child support arrearages
    4. Whether either parent is planning on relocating out of county/state
    5. The parent most likely to honor visitation for the other parent.

There are restrictions imposed for relocating with a child outside of your county, so consult with your attorney if you are planning to relocate.

  • Child support. The Courts generally follow statutory guidelines and all payments must be made through the Child Support Enforcement Agency. You cannot make payments directly to the residential parent. Child support can change, based on changes in the parent’s income, daycare costs and costs for covering the child on medical insurance.
  • Property division issues, particularly if one party brought money or property into the marriage.
  • Spousal support. The Court will look at the following factors, among others:
    1. Length of marriage
    2. Homemaking responsibilities
    3. Differences in income and retirement benefits.
    4. Child-rearing responsibilities
  • A party may also request the Court to restore them to a former name.

Understanding Your Rights and Options

Questions about marriage dissolution and what is the right option for you? Contact the lawyers at Smith and Miller in Jefferson, Ohio, for a consultation. Please call 440-576-9155 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.