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  • Writer's pictureBrad Keating

What Is a Legal Separation in Ohio?

Updated: Nov 3, 2020

A legal separation is considered a court order that doesn't legally end a marriage. However, it does allow the court to divide property, provide spousal support, handle visitation and child custody issues, and help with child support. In a sense, both spouses are still married, but they live separately.

Legal Separation Ohio

How Does a Legal Separation Work in Ohio?

During a legal separation, the marriage is still intact. With a divorce, the marriage ends. In Ohio, the plaintiff is required to file a complaint with their county's Court of Common Pleas to start a legal separation.

How Long Do You Have to Be Legally Separated for Divorce in Ohio?

For a no-fault divorce, the plaintiff must state that he or she and their spouse are incompatible. This also means that both parties have to be living separately and apart for one year. However, if the spouse denies any incompatibility, this grounds for divorce can be defeated by the court, according to Ohio law.

Generally, most people don't understand what being legally separated means. They believe that it is the same as a divorce. Ohio family laws state that they are different. It's possible to be married and live apart, but the couple is still technically married.

Often, people confuse the separation agreement with being legally separated. Separation agreements are documents required for divorces. Ohio requires one to be filed, which talks about child support, child custody, spousal support, and parenting time. Usually, the separation agreement must be handled by a family law lawyer.

It's important to understand that with a legal separation, the rules are not the same as with a divorce. For example, the plaintiff (person filing) doesn't need to live in Ohio for at least six months as with a divorce.

Please note that with divorce, the parties have to wait 30 days until the court can hear the case, though the judge must listen to it within 90 days of the claim being filed.

How Much Does a Legal Separation Cost in Ohio?

The price that must be paid for a legal separation can vary, but it often costs about the same as a divorce. A legal separation is not required for divorces in Ohio. In fact, if spouses get legally separated, they are still married. To get an Ohio divorce, both parties must then go through that process. The court may require that all of the new filing fees be paid again, and a separation agreement must be created, even if there already is one through the legal separation.

Can You Date While Legally Separated in Ohio?

There are no laws in place against dating while separated. However, if a spouse has an intimate relationship with someone else and is still technically married, this could be considered adultery. The court may consider this aspect when determining child support, parenting time, and other legalities. If someone plans to dissolve the marriage at a later date, alimony may come into question, as well. It is best to seek legal advice about child support and other issues wherever the marriage is concerned. Remember, there is likely to be marital property to divvy up. If children are present and the couple cannot stay together, custody, child support, and a parenting plan are all required. Though both parties are living separate and agree to the separation orders, this is not a dissolution of marriage, regardless of the county in which they live.


If one spouse wants to legally separate and the other doesn't wish to terminate the marriage, it could be the best choice. Of course, it still involves property division, and a petition to agree to the terms. Generally, it is best to work with an attorney to ensure that no one's rights are infringed upon. Both parties must be able to go to the hearing and answer any questions. That way, the right information is provided. Talking with a lawyer can help both parties decide if a divorce or annulment might be the best way to go.

What is the legal age to babysit in Ohio? Read our next blog to learn more.

Disclaimer: The details included in this blog is offered for educational purposes only, and should not be taken as lawful guidance in any way. No recipients of material from this blog, clients or otherwise, should or should not act on the basis of any material consisted in the blog without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional guidance on the particular facts and situations at issue from an attorney accredited in the recipient's state.


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