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The Laws Concerning Death During Divorce in the State of Ohio

The Laws Concerning Death During Divorce in the State of Ohio
April 7, 2019 Shannon Dawes
Lawyer to Mediation of a Commercial Dispute

For some, the Ohio divorce process is straightforward and proceeds from the initial petition for divorce to the final order granting the divorce with few, if any, hiccups. Others may find their divorce proceedings dragging on for months or years as issues of property division, spousal support, child support, and/or child custody are litigated and hammered out. Whenever this occurs, it can be frustrating, to say the least. The consequences of an unresolved divorce proceeding are even more serious when one of the litigants dies before the divorce is finalized.

Filing for Divorce is not the Same as Getting a Divorce

It is a common misconception that filing for divorce is the same as obtaining a divorce. Filing the paperwork necessary to initiate a divorce proceeding does just that: it startsthe process. However, a divorce is not finalizedand the parties are not declared to be divorced until the issues involved in the proceeding – property division, child custody, child support, spousal support, etc. – are resolved either by agreement or by the judge after hearing evidence. In addition, the Court must be satisfied that it has the legal authority to grant the divorce by finding that at least one of the parties involved have been a resident of Ohio for at least six months prior to the filing of the divorce petition and a resident of the county in which the petition was filed for at least 90 days prior to the petition’s filing. If any of these requirements are not met, or if there are issues that have not been satisfactorily resolved, the Court may not grant a decree of divorce.

Death During Divorce is Like No Divorce at All

With this information in mind, you may be able to guess what happens when a divorce petition has been filed and one party dies while the case is pending. That’s right – because the divorce proceeding would still be pending, the two parties neverget their divorce decree. This means that if the person who died passed without having created an updated will or trust, then the parties will be regarded as having been married at the time of the deceased party’s death. This means that any property the other person would be entitled to receive by virtue of being the decedent’s spouse would go to that other person (absent, of course, a valid will or other estate planning document to the contrary).

Since death visits us all and sometimes comes unannounced, it is important that your divorce proceeding continues to advance toward a resolution. Continuances and delays may put you in a position where your property and wealth end up in the hands of someone other than the person or people you would want. If it appears that your divorce proceeding will be protracted, you may wish to consider speaking with an Ohio estate planning lawyer about what options you have to protect yourself and your property in the event the unfortunate happens before you can finalize your divorce.

Dawes Legal, LLC Can Get Your Divorce Case Moving

Dawes Legal, LLC handles both Ohio divorce cases and is an Ohio estate planning law firm. Our office is committed to helping protect what you have earned and ensuring that you are capable of successfully moving forward after your divorce is finalized. We are a professional yet tenacious law firm: we will work diligently throughout the divorce process to bring about finalization of your divorce decree as expeditiously as possible. Talk to us and learn more about what we can do for you: Dawes Legal, LLC’s office can be reached at (614) 733-9999.