There are several options to choose from when you want to end your marriage. Some of the options require an agreement from your spouse and some don’t. The process that you choose will depend upon the facts and dynamics of your family.

When you meet with one of our Domestic Relations Attorneys, they will discuss the various processes and choices that are available to terminate your marriage.

The State of Ohio offers the options of divorce or dissolution, while the Commonwealth of Kentucky only offers dissolution.


Divorce is adversarial by its very nature.

Although divorce is trying, often all, or part, of your case can be resolved by agreement during the proceedings. Any unresolved issues are decided by a judge or magistrate and can be litigated in your county court. Typical concerns include: child support, child custody, spousal support and property division.

The court system sets a timeline for your proceeding and will also determine if any experts are required to complete parenting investigations, value a businesses or appraise real estate.

According to the Supreme Court of Ohio, any divorce filed with children should be complete within 18 months and without children should be done within 12 months. Kentucky, on the other hand, doesn’t have official deadlines but establishes guidelines for the process.


Dissolution is a non-adversarial proceeding where you don’t file anything with the court until all matters have been resolved; agreements have been signed and the parties jointly request that the marriage be terminated. In dissolution, the parties are the ultimate decision-makers for any issues in the case.

Here are several ways that you can reach agreements:

  1. “Kitchen Table Agreement”
    This is an agreement reached by the parties without the assistance of legal counsel (or with only limited assistance of counsel) to resolve any and all issues in their case. The parties bring the agreement to a lawyer to draft a Separation Agreement and/or a Shared Parenting Plan.As a lawyer can only represent one spouse in a dissolution proceeding, the other party is encouraged to review any documents that we draft with a different of his or her choosing to ensure that the agreements accurately reflect what both parties want.
  2. Mediation
    Mediation is a process where a neutral party assists in resolving your issues through a mediation process. Mediators can be lawyers, counselors or therapists. Normally, the only participants in the mediation are the parties and the mediator, but sometimes the parties hire attorneys to assist them in the process. Prior to the final agreement being reached, mediation participants are often encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney regarding the mediation terms.
  3. Lawyer Negotiation
    Used for both dissolutions and divorces. In negotiation, your lawyer will draft proposals that reflect your position, then there is negotiation between the lawyers and settlement conferences may be used to finalize agreements. Different from mediation, lawyer negotiation does not use a neutral third-party.
  4. Collaborative Law
    With this team approach, you and your spouse each hire a collaboratively-trained attorney to work through the issues in your case to reach a client-based resolution. You, your spouse and your attorneys will decide together if a neutral third-party also needs to be part of the team. Financial Neutrals and Family Relations Specialists can be part of the team and assist you in creating options to resolve the issues in the case. While “what a court would do” is often considered, the process focuses more on what is best for the family. The goal of collaborative law is to minimize animosity and focus on a problem-solving approach. You and your spouse will sign a Collaborative Contract agreeing to no court involvement (until the end to make the dissolution final).

For more information about the collaborative process, go to (for Cincinnati cases) or to (for Northern Kentucky cases).


Litigation is adversarial by its very nature. Although litigation is trying, often all, or part, of your case can be resolved by agreement during the proceedings. Any unresolved issues are decided by a judge and can be litigated in your county court. Typical concerns include: child support, child custody, spousal support and property division. The processes outlined above are options to consider prior to proceeding with litigation.

Parenting – Ohio

There are two custodial designations in Ohio: Shared Parenting and Sole Residential Parent and Legal Custodian. These custodial designations have nothing to do with actual physical parenting time or child support. They simply indicate who gets to make the legal, educational, religious and medical decisions for the minor children.

Shared Parenting Plan

Both parents are vested with the right to make those decisions for the children. The plans also include guidelines for how these decisions are to be made and what to do if there is a disagreement between the parents. Under a Shared Parenting Plan parents are encouraged to work together, communicate with one another, respect each other and respect the parenting relationship between the other parent and the child.

Sole Residential Parent and Legal Custodian

Only one parent has a vested right to make decisions for the child. The non-residential parent is still entitled to parenting time with the minor child and is entitled to school and medical records, but is not entitled to make any medical, legal, religious or educational decisions for the child.

Parenting – Kentucky

The parenting options for Kentucky residents are Sole Custody or Joint Custody. The courts lean to a joint custody arrangement unless there are good reasons not to.