Heather W. Tootle, Attorney & Counselor At Law
HomeAbout UsPhilosophy & ProceduresTypes of ClientsWhy Hire UsExpertsSuccess StoriesfaqResource LinksDomestic Case ChecklistDivorce Related BooksContact Us
The Law Office of Heather Tootle

3010 Hayden Road
Columbus, Ohio 43235
P: 614-214-9909
F: 614-798-1935


Since 1994 when Attorney Tootle began working in the area of domestic and juvenile law, our office has heard similar questions repeated over the years. The following questions are the three most frequently asked questions. Remember, every case is different so these are just general answers to questions posed over the years. Hopefully, these general answers might get you started on your own unique path to a happy, healthy resolution of your domestic law matter. These are hypothetical questions, not legal advice regarding any specific case.

Q: Should I file for Dissolution or Divorce?

A: First, the similarities: in both a divorce and dissolution you must live in the state of Ohio for 6 months immediately before filing. Further, an action for divorce or dissolution should be filed in the proper county (usually where one of the parties resides see Civil Rules for a complete list).

A dissolution is for parties that can reach an agreement on all issues “on their own”. Both parties must attend the final hearing for a dissolution to be completed. The parties in a dissolution are called petitioners as opposed to the parties in a divorce who are called Plaintiff and Defendant. In a dissolution, the parties usually use “incompatibility” or “living separate and apart for over one year” as the reason for terminating the marriage. In a dissolution case, the final hearing cannot occur sooner than 31 days after the case is filed. However, the final hearing must be prior than 90 days after the case is filed. Dissolution cases can involve millions in assets or they can have no assets. Dissolution cases can resolve child related issued through sole custody or a shared parenting plan based upon the parties’ agreement. Dissolution actions are typically the cheapest, quickest way to terminate a marriage if the parties are in agreement on all relevant issues in their case.

As stated above, the residency requirements are the same in a divorce as in a dissolution (one party must live in Ohio for 6 months prior to filing and usually filing in the county where the Plaintiff resides.) Unlike a dissolution case, a divorce is considered an adversarial action. You must allege grounds: some grounds are fault based, like adultery, and some are nonfault based, like incompatibility. In a divorce case, the final hearing cannot occur sooner than 43 days after the case is filed. Parties of a divorce, can and often do, reach an agreement on all issues even in cases that start off highly contentious. In litigious divorce cases, there can be several court hearings. In child support and/or spousal support cases, often one of the parties files for temporary orders. Temporary orders issued by the court typically provide for monthly debt division (such as mortgage, and utility bills), child and spousal support, and parenting time while the divorce case is pending. Another important aspect of a divorce case, which is not available in a dissolution, is a temporary restraining order. This is a financial restraining order that prohibits the opposing party from inappropriately hiding or spending the parties’ assets before a court can make a final order in the divorce. There can be several other hearings and legal tools used in a contested divorce or there can be just the final hearing. Every case is unique.

Q: How can I save in legal fees in my domestic case?

A: Get organized. In domestic cases, there is a lot of paper work. Therefore, if your domestic attorney requests certain documents make copies and label each document. Be sure to make lists of questions to ask your attorney when you meet. Also, and most importantly, get a good support network of family and friends. You should consider getting a therapist if necessary to help with your emotional needs. If you are angry to a point of acting irrationally during your divorce case, you might make decisions in your case based on impulse or emotion. If you have a good domestic attorney, you can trust their legal advice to guide you when you are not thinking clearly. There is a reason that divorce affects families like a death. It is difficult, even if you are the one who wanted it. To ensure your domestic case reflects what you want but doesn’t cost you more than necessary, you need to stay involved; and provide your attorney with your well organized information quickly. In summary some of the key points to reducing your legal fees are as follows: 1) get organized; 2) make a list of questions for each meeting with your lawyer; 3) have a support network; 4) trust your attorney (see our link for hiring a good attorney); and 5) stay involved in your case.

Q: How is child support determined?

A: This question is more complex than it may seem. The guideline child support worksheet can be found in Title 31 of the Ohio Revised Code. This worksheet is required in any domestic case involving children. Even if there are valid reasons to pay more or less than the worksheet results, the law requires the worksheet to be filed.

Child support is usually only paid for a child under the age of eighteen. However, child support may also be paid for a child who is eighteen years old, but has not graduated from high school. If a child has special needs or is handicapped, a court may order that child support be paid longer than age 18.

The guideline child support formula contains basic information from the parties. These factors include the following: 1) The number of children residing with each parent; 2) Each parent’s income (or income they are capable of earning); 3) The cost of the health insurance for the children; 4) The cost of work-related childcare expenses; and 5) Local income taxes. After all of the above information is put into the worksheet, a mathematical analysis set forth by the Ohio Revised Code is applied. The worksheet will give the amount that each parent contributes per month, and per year to support the basic needs of their children. Our office has the child support worksheet in our computer so that we can provide each client with a copy immediately so they can further discuss their own child support issues in more detail.

Please contact our office to discuss any questions you may have regarding your specific legal issues. The legal information provided above is general and should not be relied on as legal advice. Legal advice can not be given without full consideration of all relevant information relating to your individual situation. Remember, there are no stupid questions, so feel free to contact us at 614-214-9909 or heather@tootlelaw.com.