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Legal Separation in Ohio
by Amy Wirtz, Esq.
In Ohio, legal separation is for couples who decide they do not or cannot reside together as man and wife but do not wish to terminate their marriage. Most often, couples choose legal separation when one spouse needs continued medical insurance provided through the other or if their religious beliefs prohibit divorce.

Otherwise, legal separation is an infrequent choice in Ohio. It can be as expensive as dissolution or divorce. Separation leaves a connection that needs to be legally severed later if you or your spouse wishes to terminate your marriage.

It is the rare couple that determines legal separation is appropriate for them.

Uncontested and contested separation

The terms for legal separation are set forth in the Ohio Revised Code. If the parties agree to these terms, they file an uncontested complaint for legal separation. Their separation agreement must be detailed and approved by the court, similar to uncontested divorce.

If the parties cannot reach agreement on any terms of the legal separation, the husband or wife may file a complaint for legal separation. This also is similar to a divorce. The other party then must file an answer and can counter sue for divorce.

If the opposing spouse agrees to seek legal separation rather than divorce, the Ohio court will assist the parties in reaching a settlement on the contested issue or issues. Like in divorce, if the parties can not reach settlement on all issues, the Court will decide the terms of the separation by conducting a trial.

Like divorce without termination

Like in divorce, the grounds for legal separation rarely make a difference in the settlement of the issues. The Ohio courts must do almost everything that Ohio law commands in a divorce. The difference is that legal separation does not terminate the marriage.

In legal separation and divorce, Ohio demands the court divide real property, personal property and retirement accounts. The court sets support for the children and creates a parenting plan. It determines if spousal support is appropriate and at what amount. The court terminates rights of inheritance for each spouse.

The time required for legal separation depends on the Ohio county court system in which you file your case. Typically, the smaller the county the less time you have to wait for court dates.

Family Law Attorney Amy Wirtz is trained in collaborative approaches to resolving divorce and domestic relations issues. She can be reached at 440.363.1313 and


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