You have done everything possible to try to save your marriage. You tried a trial separation. You tried counseling. The differences are still too great. The end is inevitable.

In Ohio, you have a choice between dissolution and divorce (if you do not have grounds for an annulment). Some people think dissolution and divorce are the same. These people are wrong.

What is dissolution?

In Ohio, dissolution means the court’s involvement is minimal. Instead, you and your spouse reach an agreement to break up your marriage. This is like a “no-fault” divorce, where wrongdoing (fault) does not play a role.

Under dissolution, you and your spouse negotiate and sign a separation agreement. It covers the usual issues – child custody, child and spousal support, division of property and so on. The court can review and approve the agreement, ending your marriage.

A major advantage with dissolution is that fault is not an issue. You can sidestep the acrimonious wrangling that is common in many contested divorces.

What is divorce?

Under divorce in Ohio, the judge ends your marriage. It can be either a “fault” or “no-fault” divorce. Fault covers adultery, extreme cruelty, drunkenness and drug abuse, and other issues. No-fault reasons for divorce include incompatibility and living apart for one year.

A court divorce means you and your spouse have many unsettled issues. As a result, it can lead to an emotion-filled court battle. It also is both longer and more costly than a dissolution.

What is best for you?

Whatever you decide, you are going through a stressful time. Your wedding vows for a lifelong commitment are coming to an early end. Your emotions add to your burden. You may have a difficult time making important decisions that will have an impact on the rest of your life.

Studying Ohio laws about dissolution and divorce and seeking advice from friends who have been through the process and other trusted individuals may help you decide how to proceed.