If I Don’t Do a Collaborative Divorce or Mediation, What Happens When I Go to Court?
If you and your spouse have not entered into formal written agreements related to the manner of allocating all of your rights and responsibilities involving your minor children, dividing all of your assets and liabilities, and addressing all issues of support, then the process of ending the marriage would need to proceed by way of a “Divorce”. That would result in one spouse filing a formal Complaint for Divorce in the appropriate Domestic Relations Court. Initially, in the event that either spouse requests that the Court issue a Temporary Order to take effect while the case is pending related to the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities, and/or payment of support, the Court will consider and ultimately determine those issues. What happens from there depends upon what issues exist in the case. If there is not an agreement as to the basic manner in which the parties will allocate rights and responsibilities involving their minor children, then the Court will ultimately have to address those issues which. In most of the local Southwest Ohio counties, this will mean that the parties and their minor children will be referred to the Court’s Parenting Department and a parenting investigation will be conducted. Ultimately, a detailed written report will be prepared by the parenting specialist to whom the matter was assigned, which report will address various issues that the Ohio statutes require the Courts to consider in making these decisions. This report will also usually include the recommendations of the parenting investigator as to the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities that would be in the best interest of the minor children in that particular case. Ultimately, unless the parties are able to enter into an agreement before, these issues will need to be decided by a Judge.
In regard to the issues related to the division of the parties’ assets and liabilities, and/or payment of spousal support, again, if the parties are not able to reach an agreement on these issues on their own, the Court will ultimately have to decide those issues following a trial where relevant testimony and evidence will be presented.
Through the Court process, the Magistrate and/or Judge assigned to the case will encourage the parties and their counsel to try to reach an agreement on all of these issues. As indicated above however, if that does not occur, then the only alternative is for the Court to decide those issues based upon the Court’s view of the evidence presented at the trial, and the Court’s interpretation of the relevant Ohio statutes. This means that some third person, who essentially has no knowledge of either of the parties or their children other than what is presented in a Court trial, will be making these most important decisions for the parties and their children. In other words, in this situation, the parties relinquish their right and ability to jointly determine these issues themselves. In my opinion, that creates a very difficult and uncomfortable position for the Wife and Husband.