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What Are the First Legal Steps to Take When Filing for Divorce?

What Are the Residency Requirements for Divorce?

When you and your spouse have decided to end your marriage, getting a divorce is the next logical step. The divorce process varies slightly from state to state, but there are certain things you will need to complete before your divorce can be finalized.

The very first step you need to take before starting the divorce process is to ensure that you meet the residency requirements of the state you’re filing in. In Ohio, the filing spouse must have lived in the state for at least six months immediately before filing.

Understanding the divorce process is essential and can help you get your divorce finalized faster. If you are considering getting a divorce and would like representation, contact our law firm for a consultation about your case.

How Do You Start the Divorce Process?

Once you meet the residency requirements for your state, you can officially begin the divorce process. You can reach out to a lawyer as soon as you’d like to – our team can help you file paperwork, gather documents, and more.
To start the divorce process, you’ll do the following:

File a Divorce Petition

One spouse must file the divorce petition in court to start the process. The filing spouse is called the petitioner, and the other spouse is called the respondent. Your divorce petition must include the following:

  • A statement informing the court that you meet the residency requirements for the state
  • The legal reason for the divorce
  • Any other information required by the state, like the date of your marriage, your plans for asset division, and your plans for child custody and support, if applicable

Notify Your Spouse

The spouse who did not file the petition must be notified of the divorce. To give legal notice, you must serve your spouse with a copy of the petition. If you are on good terms with your spouse, you can give the divorce petition directly to them as long as they sign a Waiver of Formal Service.

If you are not on good terms with your spouse, you can hire a process server, sheriff, or county constable to deliver the notice for you. Once your spouse has been notified, you must file a proof of service with the court.

Your spouse then has the opportunity to file a response to the document. If they do not file within a reasonable time, the divorce could be finalized without their input.

Request Temporary Orders if Necessary

Most divorces take months to resolve officially. In some cases, you may want to settle child custody, child support, and spousal support matters before the divorce is finalized. If so, you can request temporary court orders to go into effect while the divorce is still pending. A judge will make a final ruling on your request.

When is the Divorce Finalized?

A divorce is finalized once both spouses sign divorce papers and submit them to the court. Unfortunately, not all spouses agree on the terms of the divorce. If you are going through a contested divorce, there may be additional steps you need to take in order to settle your case.

There are various ways to reach a divorce agreement, including:


Negotiating a settlement means discussing things with your spouse to reach a compromise. Terms like spousal support, child support, and child custody must be addressed. An attorney on our team can help you advocate for your rights and protect yourself during negotiations with your spouse.


Mediation is similar to negotiations, but it involves an unbiased third party driving the conversation. If conversations have become unhelpful, mediation can help you resolve issues with your spouse.

Both parties are allowed to bring legal representation to mediation.


Litigation involves going to trial and having a judge rule on your divorce agreement. A judge will examine all the factors of your case, including the length of the marriage, the reason for the divorce, and the conduct of both parties. Litigation can be time-consuming and expensive, which is why many couples try to avoid it if at all possible.

Once the divorce papers are signed and submitted, a judge will issue a decree of divorce. The decree will include instructions on all major terms that both spouses must follow.

How Do You Expedite the Divorce Process?

The divorce process involves lots of legal paperwork and many different deadlines. Filing paperwork incorrectly or missing a crucial deadline can delay the process, leading to even more wait time. If you want to speed up the process while still protecting your rights, working with a team of experienced attorneys is the best way to do so.

When you work with our team, we’ll keep track of all the paperwork you need to file and all the information you need to submit. We can help you negotiate with your spouse or their legal representative while advocating for your needs. Above all, we will be there to answer your questions and walk you through the entire process until you get the outcome you deserve.

Do You Need an Attorney During a Divorce?

When your marriage has come to an end, getting a divorce allows you to separate yourself from your spouse and open up a new chapter in life. A divorce attorney will ensure that the child custody arrangement, division of assets, spousal support requests, and all other terms of your divorce are fair to you.

Our team at the Lawrence Law Office understands how overwhelming this process can be. We are here to help you through your divorce until it is resolved. For more information, please call today at 614-820-1195.

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