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DISSOLUTION: If both spouses wish to end the marriage, and agree to the disposition of ALL issues of the marriage, they may seek a Dissolution of Marriage.

  1. The spouses (parties) must prepare and submit a Petition for Dissolution, a Separation Agreement which addresses all issues of the marriage, and a Decree of Dissolution to the Case Management Office for review. Parties must exchange affidavits of income, expense, and property, sworn under oath, ensuring that they are aware of all assets, debt and income of the other spouse.

  2. If there are minor children, parenting must be addressed in the Separation Agreement, or, if the parents intend to share the parenting rights and responsibilities for the child(ren), they must prepare and submit a Shared Parenting Plan and a Decree of Shared Parenting in addition to the Separation Agreement.

  3. Once all documents have been approved for filing, they are submitted to the Clerk of Courts for filing and payment of the filing fee.

  4. The final hearing is scheduled by the Case Management Office no less than 30 days and no more than 90 days from the date the Petition is filed. This timetable is required by law. Both spouses MUST appear for the final hearing. 

  5. If there are minor children involved, both parties must attend the Mandatory Parent Education Class prior to the final hearing.

  6. The Decree(s) will be filed with the Clerk of Courts after the final hearing; the parties’ marriage will be dissolved upon filing. 


DIVORCE: If the spouses cannot agree on all issues, but one of the spouses wishes to end the marriage, they must sue the other spouse by filing a Complaint for Divorce. A Divorce is similar to any other lawsuit in many ways.

  1. The Plaintiff (the spouse wishing to end the marriage), submits a Complaint for Divorce to the Domestic Relations Court Case Management Office for review.  The Complaint may include motions for temporary orders, including orders regarding any minor children, which must be supported by a sworn affidavit.

  2. Once all documents have been approved for filing, they are submitted to the Clerk of Courts for filing and payment of the filing fee.

  3. The Plaintiff must serve the Defendant (the other spouse) with a copy of the Complaint for Divorce.  The service may be by personal service by someone not related to the case in any way, by certified mail, or by other means required by the Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure.  Arrangements for service of documents are made through the Clerk of Courts’ Office.

  4. Once they are served, the Defendant has the option to file an Answer to the Complaint within 28 days of the time they are served (not the date the Complaint was filed). This is because the Defendant is entitled to know what the Plaintiff is asking the Court to do, and have an opportunity to be heard by the Court.

  5. If the Defendant DOES NOT FILE an Answer or respond within 28 days after service:
  • The Court will set a “default hearing”, or “uncontested divorce hearing”; 
  • The Plaintiff must prepare a Decree that resolves all issues of the marriage (including parenting of any children) and is consistent with the law and the Court’s Local Rules; 
  • Submit the Decree to the Case Management Office for approval; and 
  • Mail a copy of the Decree to the Defendant at the address where they were served at least 14 days before the default hearing. 
  • The Plaintiff must bring a witness to the default hearing to testify on their behalf for the divorce. 
  • If the Defendant does not appear or contest the terms of the Decree, the Decree will be filed with the Clerk of Courts after the hearing.  The parties are divorced upon the filing of the Decree.

     6.   If the Defendant FILES an Answer:

  • The Court will set a SCHEDULING CONFERENCE two to three weeks after the Answer is filed. The SCHEDULING CONFERENCE is the opportunity for the Court to meet with the parties, review any issues involved in that particular case, to set deadlines for the exchange of documents and evidence (completion of discovery), and set future hearing dates. 
  • COMPLETION OF DISCOVERY –All issues and potential evidence surrounding custody and support of children, support of the other spouse (including income), all assets and debts held by either party during the marriage, and the nature of those assets must be disclosed through discovery. 
  • SETTLEMENT CONFERENCE - This is ordered at the Scheduling Conference, and is a meeting between the parties outside of the courtroom.  The goal of the Settlement Conference is to settle all or some of the issues in the divorce.
  • PRE-TRIAL – The parties and/or attorneys report back to the Court to inform the Court of any agreements or unresolved issues, including the failure of either party to comply with discovery or complete the required affidavits of income, expenses and property.  The Pretrial may be used as a final hearing if all issues are resolved at the Settlement Conference. Testimony and other evidence are not presented at the Pretrial unless all matters are resolved by agreement and the agreement is reduced to writing.  If all issues are not resolved, the Court sets the case for final hearing, or trial. 

    If the parties have minor children, the plaintiff and defendant must appear at the Pretrial unless   excused by the Court. If all issues are agreed, they must appear to testify regarding their agreement. 
  • TRIAL – This is the final hearing. The parties present evidence on all issues which are not agreed. The evidence includes testimony of the parties, and any experts or other witnesses. The parties must appear at the final hearing, and be prepared to present exhibits and testimony. Even if not represented by an attorney, the parties are responsible for knowing how to present evidence according to the law and all state and local rules.
  • DECISION - The Judge will issue a written Decision on all litigated issues, typically within 30 days of the final hearing. The Decision will include a deadline, referred to as a SHOW CAUSE hearing, for a Decree that includes any agreements of the parties, as well as the Decision of the Court on any unresolved issues, to be approved and filed.
  • DECREE OF DIVORCE – This is the final Divorce paperwork, and is the full body of all agreements of the parties and/or final orders from the Court regarding all property, support, and parenting issues, as applicable. The Decree must be prepared in accordance with state law and Local Rules.

    If you wish to be restored to a former name, that change must be included in the Decree of Divorce or Dissolution, and expressed at the final hearing. The Decree will serve as the documentation necessary to effectuate your name change.


LEGAL SEPARATION: The procedure for Legal Separation is similar to the procedure for Divorce, but the Complaint is for Legal Separation rather than Divorce. In a Legal Separation, the assets, debts, and other issues of the marriage are resolved by agreement or Court’s Decision after trial, but the parties remain legally married.



It is a general overview of typical events in a Divorce proceeding. It is provided for informational purposes only regarding procedure. YOU SHOULD CONSULT AN ATTORNEY FOR LEGAL ADVICE REGARDING YOUR DISSOLUTION, DIVORCE, OR LEGAL SEPARATION, AND ISSUES SPECIFIC TO YOUR CASE.




“The mission of the Butler County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations Division, is to help families transition their lives by reaching compassionate and just resolutions to parenting and property disputes that are consistent with the law.”



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