A complaint for legal separation may become necessary when the husband and wife want to live separately but do not wish for their marriage to be terminated. A legal separation may be granted regardless of whether the parties are living separately at the time the complaint is filed.
In order to obtain a legal separation in Ohio the complaint for legal separation must state the grounds for the legal separation. The following are the possible grounds for legal separation in Ohio under Ohio Law.
A Domestic Relations court may grant a spouse a legal separation for the following reasons:
The filing of a complaint for legal separation or the granting of a decree of legal separation does not prevent either party from later filing for a divorce or annulment. This protects spouses who decide later that they wish to legally terminate the marriage.
When a legal separation complaint is filed in Portage County or Summit County Domestic Relations Court, the court will normally place mutual restraining orders into effect until the legal separation is finalized. The following are some examples of the types of things that both spouses are prohibited from doing while the case is pending.
Both spouses in the legal separation case are restrained from:
Either spouse may ask the Domestic Relations court for a Temporary Hearing, which is typically held in front of a Magistrate, who makes orders concerning such issues as parental rights, responsibilities, and support.
The court may order one spouse to move out of the marital residence. Temporary Orders will generally remain in effect until the legal separation case ends or the Domestic Relations court modifies the terms of the Temporary Orders.
The spouse filing the complaint for legal separation is deemed the Plaintiff and must have resided in the State of Ohio for at least six months prior to the filing of the complaint for legal separation with the court. They would also need to be a resident of Portage or Summit County for 90 days before filing the legal separation complaint in the appropriate county Domestic Relations court.
The person being sued for legal separation is called the Defendant, and has 28 days after being served with a copy of the legal separation complaint to file his or her Answer if that spouse wants to contest the legal separation. If the Defendant wants the legal separation to be awarded to him or her, then that spouse may choose to file a Counterclaim with his or her Answer.
If the Defendant does not file an Answer after being served with the complaint for legal separation, the Domestic Relations court will schedule the case for an uncontested trial, at which the person filing the legal separation complaint (Plaintiff) must appear, with one or more witnesses, to testify about the grounds for legal separation, the value of marital assets, debts and spousal support.
If the Defendant does file an Answer after being served with the complaint for legal separation, the case is deemed contested, and the Domestic Relations court will schedule one or more hearings (pre-trials) to determine which issues cannot be resolved and what action should be taken in the interim time period. Eventually, a trial will be scheduled to address issues that cannot be settled in the legal separation action.
When children are involved in legal separations, the Domestic Relations court takes extra precautions to ensure that the children are not adversely affected by the legal separation. Most Domestic Relations courts require parents to separately attend a parenting class regarding this matter.
In addition to determining the division of assets and debts, the Domestic Relations court must also determine the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities. This includes determining whether there should be shared parenting or sole custody, visitation schedules, and the allocation of expenses for the children, including child support.
Portage County Divorce Lawyer Heather Johnston handles all issues relating to Domestic Relations and Legal Separations.
You can contact her at 330-296-8000 (Ravenna Office) and 330-686-2890 (Stow Office) to book your case review.
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The attorneys in our law firm primarily service Portage County courts (Ravenna and Kent), and Summit County courts (Akron, Stow, Barberton). Cases in all other courts in North East Ohio, such as Cuyahoga County courts, are handled under specific terms and conditions.