Just like when a couple is going through a divorce, a dissolution of marriage requires expert representation and should not be taken lightly.

Divorce vs. Dissolution

Between “divorce,” “annulment,” and “dissolution,” there are a few marriage-related terms that can be easy to confuse. The difference between a dissolution and a divorce is all in the filing with the court and the procedure that follows. 

To understand the differences, let's look at the similarities. In both a divorce and a dissolution you get a final court order that:

  • Terminates the marriage
  • Allocates all debts and assets
  • Sets forth all support orders, including child and spousal
  • Provides the terms of the parenting arrangement

The difference is in the path to the end result. In a dissolution, the parties have worked out all issues and reached an agreement on all terms, including debts, assets, child support, spousal support, and parenting. 

The agreements are set forth in a document called a Separation Agreement. If the parties have entered into a shared parenting plan, where child custody will be shared, then that arrangement is set forth in a separate document called a Shared Parenting Plan. The Separation Agreement is filed with the court with the initial Petition for Dissolution and the Shared Parenting Plan is submitted for approval or filed based on your local court's procedure. There is only one hearing scheduled, and that is the Merits hearing. In a dissolution, one can get to an agreement by direct negotiation using an attorney to negotiate and mediate (also known as the Collaborative Law Process).

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How Property Will Be Divided

When a married couple separates and decides to dissolve their marriage, it is the duty of the court to determine the value of the community property and divide it equally. Also, the court will determine the balance due on community obligations and provide that husband and wife share that debt equally. The court will determine if there is any separate property and, if so, confirm its ownership to the acquiring spouse.

The court has considerable discretion in determining how to divide community property in order to ensure that a fair result is reached. It is not necessary that each asset be divided precisely, which is something rarely possible. What is required is substantial mathematical equality. The court may divide the property in several ways, including the following:

  • Awarding one-half to each spouse as in the case of money, stocks, or bonds (in-kind).
  • Awarding one spouse a certain item or group of items and the other spouse a certain item or group of items of equal value.
  • Ordering the property sold and the proceeds divided.
  • Awarding each spouse a one-half undivided interest.
  • Awarding an asset to one spouse and an equalizing payment to the other.

Settlement agreements are typically favored by the court and your agreement will likely be approved if: it is fair and reasonable, and all appropriate legal documents have been exchanged.

Dissolution Attorney in Cleveland, OH

Attorney Sherry Naegele has been practicing law in the state of Ohio since 2000. Her practice encompasses all areas of family law, and her experience and compassion can help you through life’s most difficult situations. Contact her today to get started.