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What Is the Difference Between Divorce and Dissolution?

The state of Ohio offers multiple options for ending a marriage. Beyond divorce, dissolution is another possible way to end a union (potentially less contentiously). Understanding the differences between divorce and dissolution is a good starting point to help make this critical decision.

Divorce vs. Dissolution in Ohio

Some people use the terms “divorce” and “dissolution of marriage” interchangeably, but they’re not exactly the same. While both phrases describe a marriage’s legal termination, they lead to a judge signing a divorce decree and lawfully ending the marriage. Legally speaking, they are different.

Divorce typically involves the court’s help to end a marriage. On the other hand, a dissolution of marriage is an agreement between spouses on resolving questions such as child custody and property division without judicial intervention. A successful divorce and a dissolution of marriage will end in the same outcome: an order that ends the marriage and sets rules for the split. The difference lies in the path to get there.

Dissolving a marriage is often a faster route to a split if the spouses can keep an open mind during negotiations. It requires agreeing on the details of the marriage dissolution, including parenting time, alimony, property & debt division, and child support. A lawyer may help make this a viable option, depending on the complexity of the marriage.

Legal Separation in Ohio

This conversation merits discussing a third option: legal separation. This path pauses things for an amount of time while the couple decides if the union should continue.

Legal separation is a typical middle point for couples who need to resolve their issues but aren’t sure something as final as divorce is right for them. During a legal separation, the couple can decide to either reconcile and end the separation or move forward with a divorce/dissolution.


If you’re considering a potential split in West Chester, Mason, or Hamilton, it’s essential to know that you have a trusted advocate in the team at Garretson & Holcomb, LLC. They’re leaders in divorce and family law throughout Warren and Butler Counties. Call (513) 863-6600 to learn more.

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