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What’s the Difference Between Divorce and Dissolution?

Let’s start with what divorce and dissolution have in common. Both divorce and dissolution result in the legal end to a marriage. Both divorce and dissolution require the parties to determine the terms of their separation in a separation agreement which must address division of property, payment of debts, child custody, visitation, spousal support, and payment of attorney fees.

The primary difference between divorce and dissolution is whether or not the parties are alleging fault of the other spouse as the grounds for the divorce. Divorce requires that one party allege fault on the part of the other spouse as a reason for terminating the marriage. Examples of causes for divorce that Ohio recognizes is parties living apart for more than one year, adultery, habitual drunkenness, and extreme cruelty. Ohio lists these causes for divorce by statute and the list here is not a complete one.

Further, divorce is the option for legally ending a marriage when parties cannot agree on the terms of their separation agreement. If parties cannot decide between themselves for example as to how they will handle the separation of assets or custody of their children, a complaint for divorce is filed and temporary motions and court involvement may be required.

On the other hand, a dissolution can be thought of as a no-fault divorce. Fault grounds are not required for a dissolution. If the parties can negotiate and come to an agreement on all terms of their separation agreement, then the parties can petition for a dissolution. A dissolution of marriage can alleviate a lot of the divorce process and expense by eliminating the need for court involvement during negotiations. In a dissolution, once the parties reach agreement as to the details to their separation agreement, the agreement can be filed with the court and a final merits hearing can be scheduled. Dissolution can be more streamlined than a divorce.

This nutshell view comparing the processes of divorce and dissolution is just a broad overview. Before undertaking a divorce or dissolution to end a marriage, consulting with an attorney can answer questions you may have about the specifics of your own case.

For a free consultation about divorce or dissolution in Ohio contact Shur Law at 513-448-4099 or visit

This article is not intended to be legal advice. Please seek advice from a licensed attorney for specifics about your own case.