In every complaint for a Divorce, the Plaintiff (the party initiating the action) must state certain grounds, or causes, to the court. Ohio Revised Code § 3105.01 provides that the Court of Common Pleas may grant divorces for the following causes:
- Either party had a husband or wife living at the time of the marriage from which the divorce is sought
- Willful absence of the adverse party for one year
- Extreme cruelty
- Fraudulent contract
- Any gross neglect of duty
- Habitual drunkenness
- Imprisonment of the adverse party in a state or federal correctional institution at the time of filing the complaint
- Procurement of a divorce outside this state, by a husband or wife, by virtue of which the party who procured it is released from the obligations of the marriage, while those obligations remain binding upon the other party
- On the application of either party, when husband and wife have, without interruption for one year, lived separate and apart without cohabitation
- Incompatibility, unless denied by either party
Ohio is a “no-fault” State. That means that two of the grounds, living separate and apart in excess of one year and incompatibility, do not require the finding of any fault by either party. The remaining grounds do require the provision of evidence as to those facts and circumstances which would support those causes/grounds. It is very common for attorneys to allege in the Complaint grounds such as extreme cruelty, gross neglect of duty, and incompatibility. The vast majority of divorces are granted on the basis of incompatibility. However, it is impractical to only allege incompatibility when the other party may deny that incompatibility.
It is certainly ironic that one party would believe that their incompatible with the other while others believe the contrary (as this seems to be the very definition of incompatibility). Therefore, the extreme cruelty and gross neglect of duty causes are commonly also pleaded in the event that the other party denies the parties are incompatible.
The causes are generally self-explanatory: bigamy, adultery, habitual drunkenness, imprisonment, and living separate and apart without cohabitation for one year. Extreme cruelty and gross neglect of duty are very fact-intensive. Extreme cruelty can be any form of physical or mental abuse committed by one party to the other. Neglect of duty is based upon Ohio law that the spouses each owe the other respect, fidelity, and support. A failure to provide financial or emotional support may be a gross neglect of those duties.
If you are served with a Complaint for Divorce, and grounds in addition to incompatibility are alleged, do not panic. Those allegations are standardly made by the attorney in the event that you would dispute that the parties are incompatible. It is critical to note that regardless of whether the divorce is a fault-based divorce or a no-fault divorce, the cause for the divorce rarely has any impact on the equitable division of assets and obligations from the marriage. There are particular circumstances (if a spouse is providing marital assets to their paramour, etc.) that would appear to impact the equitable division, but infidelity in and of itself does not entitle either party to a greater or lesser portion of the division. Those actions whereby a spouse would commit financial misconduct are related to those particular actions, not the grounds.
If you receive a Complaint for Divorce and see allegations contained related to grounds, remember that the grounds themselves do not generally impact the equitable division of assets and obligations. Those grounds are the generally standard language used by the attorney to statutorily provide notice of the grounds for termination of marriage and, in an overwhelming majority of the cases, the grounds for divorce are incompatibility.
If you are in a divorce, dissolution, custody or any family law situation and have questions or need representation, please contact Matt Sorg at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937.223.1130.