A Dissolution of marriage is the termination of the marriage by the Judge or by the parties written agreement. When the couple enters into a Marital Settlement Agreement which details their agreement regarding parenting issues, parenting support issues, the division of assets and liabilities, and spousal support they are keeping it out of the Judge’s hands and keeping all control in their hands. It the parents agree to Shared Parenting, a Shared Parenting Plan is also executed. After the parties each file the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and Separation Agreement, a brief hearing is held before a Judge. At that time, the parties affirm the Separation Agreement.
Some couples are able to sit down “at the kitchen table” to sort through their issues and reach agreements. It is advisable for both to have had had prior consultations with lawyers so that they each have some understanding of the nature of their rights and obligations. This process tends to work well in very uncomplicated cases. Where couples are dividing up pension plans or there are complex legal issues, there may be difficulty with this approach. For some, it may be possible, to the resolve some issues at “the kitchen table”, although not all.
This type of negotiation can be problematic where one spouse feels less powerful than the other and may feel coerced into an agreement.
In a mediated case, a couple meets with a mediator who serves as a third-party neutral. The mediator can be an attorney or mental health professional. It is recommended that the Husband and Wife each have attorneys who can provide advice and counsel during the time the couple is in mediation. In most situations, the attorneys are not present in the mediation sessions, although they can be at the discretion of the mediator and/or Husband or Wife. The mediator uses a structured problem solving process to assist the couple in reaching an agreement. The mediator does not give legal advice nor does he or she serve as a decision-maker for the couple. In Ohio, the mediator does not draft the final documents required by the court or take the case through the court system.
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