Cincinnati Family Law & Divorce Blog: In what county and state can a family law matter be filed?
Before a legal action can be filed with a court, there are certain requirements that must be met. Two such requirements include “jurisdiction” and “venue”, as they are known in the legal world. In the family law context, this typically involves looking at where the spouses and/or children reside. To hear a case, the court must have jurisdiction over both the parties and the matter, and venue must be proper. For example, a divorce cannot be filed in Ohio unless the plaintiff has been a resident of Ohio for a certain period of time. Additionally, it must be filed in the county where at least one of the parties has been a resident for a certain period of time. Jurisdiction typically determines what state to file in and venue determines what county to file in. This blog post will outline the residency requirements for divorce, dissolution, child custody and support matters in Ohio. As these requirements vary from state to state, it is important to consult a local family law attorney for assistance.
Divorce & Annulment
The person filing for a divorce or annulment (the “plaintiff”) must be a resident of Ohio for at least 6 months prior to filing. The plaintiff can either file in the county in which he/she has been a resident for at least 90 days or where the other party (the “defendant”) has been a resident for at least 90 days. (For example, Plaintiff has resided in Hamilton County, Ohio for 1 year and Defendant has resided in Butler County, Ohio for 1 year. Plaintiff can file in either Hamilton County or in Butler County.)
As opposed to a divorce or annulment, there is no 6 month residency requirement in order to file for a legal separation. However, at least one of the parties must still meet the 90 day residency requirements for the county in which they decide to file the action. Similar to a divorce, this can be in the county where either party meets this requirement. It is important to note that a legal separation doesnot result in the legal termination of the parties’ marriage. Instead, it is often an option for parties who have separated or will separate and would like to finalize the financial component of the separation, but have not yet met the 6 month residency requirement for a divorce or dissolution.
In order to file a dissolution, at least one spouse must be a resident of Ohio for a minimum of 6 months and of the specific county for at least 90 days prior to filing. Again, like a divorce, so long as one spouse meets the residency requirements, the dissolution can still be filed even if other spouse is living in another county and/or state.
Child Custody and Child Support
For married parents, child custody and child support matters are normally addressed through the divorce or dissolution. For unmarried parents, a parent seeking legal and/or physical custody, parenting time, or visitation, must file a complaint or petition in the child’s “home state.” A child’s “home state” is the state in which the child has lived with a parent for at least 6 consecutive months immediately preceding the filing. The case must be filed in the county where the child resides.
Child support cases may be filed in the county and state where the child and the parent seeking support resides. When parents live in different states, the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) allows for the enforcement of an out-of-state child support order. As there are specific steps that must be taken to enforce out of state orders, it is always a good idea to consult a local attorney for assistance with these matters.
To make matters even more complicated, before a Court can hear a matter and/or make any orders, it must have the authority to do so. This is commonly known as jurisdiction. More specifically, a Court must have jurisdiction over the subject matter and all aspects of the case including the parties, the child, and even property. Thus, even if a one party meets the residency requirements as detailed above, a court may potentially be prohibited from making decisions about property, support or custody if the other party has not lived in the state or had other connections to the state. Furthermore, the place where a child has been living may determine whether a court can make parenting determinations. As jurisdictional issues can be complicated, it is very important to consult a local family law attorney for assistance with these matters.
It is important to note that even if you do not meet the specific residency requirements as detailed above, you can still consult with an attorney in the meantime to obtain legal advice about the process and/or complete the various documents that will be required once you do meet such requirements.