Divorce and Dissolution: What is the Difference?

It's not uncommon: people change, and sometimes, that means taking different paths. Divorce and dissolution are two legal ways to end a marriage, but the process differs, depending on the agreement between parties. 

Perhaps the biggest difference is that divorce commands that one party files a complaint and proves grounds, or reasons, for separation. In a dissolution, both parties are in agreement on how they’d like to end the marriage, especially in regard to child custody and support, finances, and property division.


In the state of Ohio, divorce is granted when one party alleges the other to be "at fault." Being at fault implies the party is guilty of adultery, extreme cruelty, absence, alcoholism, neglect, and/or imprisonment, among other recognized actions.

In addition to filing the complaint, these complaints must have witnesses in order for the court to grant a divorce. The only “no fault” grounds for divorce in Ohio is if the parties are “living separate and apart for one year without interruption and without cohabitation,” and if both parties agree that they are incompatible. 


In a dissolution, both parties create a separation agreement, along with a petition to the court to dissolve the marriage. The separation agreement includes any negotiations on property, child custody, and finances. There is a 30-day waiting period after filing with the court, which must review the case within 90 days of filing. At a dissolution hearing, the court will review the stipulations of the agreement, inquire about finances, dependent children and support, and ensure that both parties understand and agree with the terms. If so, the court will grant the dissolution, and the separation agreement will become a court order.

To learn more about Ohio state laws on divorce and dissolution, visit the Ohio State Bar Association.