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How Long Does a Divorce Trial Take?

An Ohio divorce trial is a formal trial to the divorce Judge (not to a jury). The same rules of evidence apply in a divorce trial as in any other type of trial. Depending upon the complexity of the issues, a divorce trial may last from 1/2 day to several days.

How Long Does the Ohio Divorce Process Take?

At the beginning of a lawsuit, it is difficult to foresee how long an Ohio divorce will take. After it is underway and we understand the issues, we will be better able to gauge the duration. How long it will take depends on the following four factors:

  1. The number and complexity of contested issues;
  2. The vehemence of the parties’ feelings and their inclination to settle;
  3. The Court’s calendar. A temporary hearing can usually be scheduled in two to four weeks. A full divorce trial will take place in approximately 8-12 months, depending upon which Judge your case is assigned to and that particular Judge’s court schedule;
  4. The other lawyer. Your lawyer has no control over the other lawyer’s schedule or personality. An extremely busy or uncompromising opposing counsel can prolong your divorce.

By far, the most common factors that prolong lawsuits are the intensity of the parties’ feelings and the degree to which the parties want to fight.

What is a Pre-trial Conference?

A pre-trial conference is generally the first meeting with the lawyers and the Judge during an Ohio divorce proceeding. The pre-trial conference will be scheduled approximately 60-90 days after the last status conference or initial pre-trial conference. Both lawyers are required to submit a pre-trial statement to the Judge which is generally an updated financial statement. The pre-trial statement contains information concerning the marriage, valuation of assets, list of debts, stipulations and the issues which the parties cannot agree upon. Both lawyers review the pre-trial statements with the Judge. At the time of the pre-trial conference, your final trial date will be scheduled.

You will receive a notice regarding the date of your pre-trial conference and you will be requested to submit certain information in preparation therefor. Your attendance is required at the pre-trial conference, although you will not be required to testify and often times you may not be permitted in the courtroom during the pre-trial procedure. At the pre-trial conference, the Court will schedule a divorce trial date. Generally, the trial date is three to six months after the pre-trial conference, depending upon the Court’s schedule.

What is a Status Call / Initial Pre-trial Conference?

Your status call or initial pre-trial conference is scheduled at the time your Ohio divorce complaint is filed and generally occurs approximately 120 days after the filing. The purpose of the status call / initial pre-trial conference is for the lawyers to meet with a Court Magistrate or Judge to discuss how the case is progressing.

At the status hearing / initial pre-trial conference, the lawyers will discuss what issues the parties can agree on (i.e., date of marriage, number of children, income of the parties, evaluation of assets such as the home, personal property, pensions and the like) and the matters which they cannot agree upon.

Please keep in mind that the status call / pre-trial conference is for scheduling purposes only. At the status call / initial pre-trial conference, the Court will not enforce orders regarding your spouse’s failure, if any, to comply with the previous orders of the Court. We will notify you if we require information or documentation from you in order to prepare for the status conference / initial pre-trial conference. Depending upon which Judge your case is assigned to, you may or may not be required to attend the status conference / initial pre-trial conference. You will be directed in subsequent communications from our office whether you are required to attend the status conference / initial pre-trial conference.

What is a Temporary Hearing?

The first hearing in an Ohio divorce will be a temporary hearing, which will be scheduled within four to six weeks after the filing of your divorce complaint. A temporary hearing is a one hour hearing which takes place before a Court Magistrate. A Court Magistrate is a hearing officer who hears most preliminary matters involving your case – including temporary hearings, contempt of court motions and the like. The Court Magistrate does not preside over the final trial.

Generally speaking, the purpose of a temporary hearing is to obtain temporary orders from the Court, which will remain in effect during the pendency of the divorce action. These temporary orders include allocation of parental rights, child support, spousal support, who will reside in the marital residence, payment of bills, maintenance of insurances, and other important issues involving the children or finances. The temporary hearing is not for the purposes of discussing the cause of the marital break-up nor the division of marital property.

Within one to two weeks after the temporary hearing, the Court Magistrate will issue a report, which will contain recommendations regarding the above issues. We will mail you a copy of the Court Magistrate’s Report as soon as we receive the report from the Court. Either spouse will have the right to file a Motion to Set Aside the Magistrate’s Order within a period of 10 days from the date of the report.

If you file a Motion to Set Aside the Magistrate’s Order or object to a Magistrate’s Decision, we will be required to submit a brief and transcript of the proceedings to the Judge setting forth in detail why we disagree with the Court Magistrate’s Report. Your spouse’s attorney will have a period of 10 days from the date which we file our Motion to Set Aside the Court Magistrate’s Report to file a responsive brief. Both briefs are reviewed by the Judge who has the right to do any one of the following:

  • Agree with the Court Magistrate and affirm the Court Magistrate’s Report;
  • Remand the matter back to the Court Magistrate for further hearing;
  • Amend the Court Magistrate’s Report without any further hearing.

It has been our experience that in the vast majority of cases, the Judge generally agrees with the Court Magistrate’s original report.

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