Domestic Relations Court Filing
What to Expect
A divorce or legal separation case begins when a party (plaintiff) files a formal complaint at the courthouse. The defendant, the other party, may answer within 28 days. If an answer is filed, the case is contested. If the defendant does not file an answer, the case is uncontested.
The Supreme Court has compiled forms to assist individuals who are representing themselves. To access those forms, go to the Wood County Clerk of Courts website.
When a divorce is filed, mutual restraining orders are put into effect and remain until the case is finalized. Both parties are restrained from: a) selling, transferring or destroying assets; b) threatening, abusing or interfering with the other party; c) incurring further credit; d) changing insurance coverage; and e) removing the children from Wood County.
Either party may request a temporary hearing, which is conducted by a magistrate who makes orders concerning parental rights, responsibilities and support. One spouse may be ordered to move out of the marital home in certain instances. These temporary orders remain in effect until the court modifies them or the case ends.
When a case is contested, a pretrial conference is held with a magistrate within several months after the complaint is filed. Each party must complete an affidavit of assets and liabilities, to be submitted before this conference. This is an informal hearing. The issues are reviewed to determine what additional information is needed, what the parties can agree upon and what issues are in dispute.
Another pretrial conference may be held 2-3 months later. The parties and their attorneys determine if their case can be settled. If an agreement can be reached at this point, the matter may be finalized. If not, a trial time is scheduled.
At trial, the plaintiff first presents his or her case, including grounds for the divorce, financial information, property and the welfare of the children. The defendant has the opportunity to present evidence to explain and dispute the plaintiff’s evidence.
After all the evidence has been presented, each side may give oral or written arguments to explain to the court what he or she is requesting and why the request is reasonable and appropriate.
The Court then issues a Decision which is filed with the Clerk. The parties have 14 days to object to the Decision if they choose. When filing objections, it is necessary to submit a transcript of the hearing. To obtain a transcript, it is necessary to contact the Domestic Relations office to make arrangements for payment.
If the case is uncontested, it is set for final hearing several months after the complaint is filed. The defendant is notified but is not expected to contest the grounds for the divorce. He or she will then provide information on the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities, child support, division or property and spousal support. The Court will then make a final Decision.
It is suggested that you have an attorney to represent your interests when you come to court, however you may appear without an attorney. Although you can proceed without an attorney, you will be expected to follow the rules of the court, file the appropriate paperwork and present sufficient evidence if you proceed to trial. In most domestic relations cases, you are not entitled to have an attorney appointed to represent you.
If you are brought to court for contempt and there is a possibility of jail time, you may be entitled to have an attorney appointed if you are found to be indigent. You will be required to complete a form and pay a fee of $25.00 to be considered for a court appointed attorney. The forms and additional information is located at The Wood County Clerk of Courts website under “Additional Post Domestic Relations forms”. You may also wish to visit www.opd.ohio.gov. You may also wish to contact Legal Aid of Western Ohio at www.ablelaw.org to see if you qualify for a pro bono attorney.
Workshop for Self-Represented Litigants
The Wood County Bar Association conducts a legal clinic to assist participants with understanding forms that are required to file for a divorce or dissolution. General instructions, not specific legal advice is given.
Times and Locations:
*The Workshop for Self-Represented Litigants has been CANCELLED through the month of April*
Second Wednesday of the month
Location: Wood County Courthouse, Domestic Relations Court
Time: 10:00 a.m.
To register, call (419) 354-9290
The Wood County Bar Association also participates in a legal clinic where it is possible to discuss your legal issues with an attorney.
Third Thursday of the month
Location: Bowling Green Alliance Church, 161 Napoleon Rd., Bowling Green, OH
Time: 5:00pm – 7:00pm
To register, call (419) 352-1710 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For further information please visit Ohio Legal Help at www.ohiolegalhelp.org
Divorce, Dissolution or Legal Separation
A complaint for Divorce, Legal Separation or a Petition for Dissolution shall be filed together with the appropriate financial schedules and filing fee. You can use this court’s Schedule A and B or the Supreme Court financial disclosure forms found on the Wood County Clerk of Courts website. If there are minor children of the marriage, the UCCJEA form shall also be filed. You must also provide a copy of the documents for the Clerk to serve the opposing party.
With a dissolution petition, you must also file a Waiver of Service of Summons with the Petition.
Post Decree Motions
A motion to modify or vacate a prior order shall be filed with the Clerk of Courts office with at least 2 copies of the pleading, along with the filing fee. Be sure to follow the Local Rules regarding the content of the motion and any necessary schedules that may need to be attached.
The Court cannot accept letters from the parties; these are considered to be ex-parte communications. If you are requesting relief from the court, the correspondence shall be in the form of a motion and shall include the filing fee.