Divorces v. Dissolutions: The Pro’s and Con’s

Divorces v. Dissolutions: The Pro’s and Con’s

There are many articles out there exploring the differences between divorces and dissolutions, but not many giving inside knowledge on which is the best for a specific situation. Both are ways to dissolve a marital union and the end results are the same; the difference is the process that the parties go through. There are pros and cons to each method that may not be readily apparent to the parties and in this blog, Sierra Causey discusses the different processes.

Dissolutions require the parties to agree on all aspects of their separation, write down their agreement, then submit it to the court. A divorce is filed by one party and the court will hold a series of hearings to make decisions on the terms of the termination of the parties’ marriage.

Pros of Divorce:

  • You can still make agreements: There is a misconception that divorces require everything to be litigated in a hostile fashion, but this is not true at all. The parties can still make agreements on specific issues and reserve the right to have the court and judge hear issues that cannot be resolved by agreement.
  • It is always moving forward: The divorce process is always moving forward towards the end goal. Unless the filing party dismisses the Complaint for Divorce, there is no way for the other party to stop the process from moving forward.  In the event that there is a Counterclaim for Divorce filed, both parties would need to dismiss to stop the progression of the case.

Cons of Divorce: 

  • It can get expensive: The two biggest determining factors of cost are the following: 1) the parties’ attitude and behavior towards each other and 2) the attorneys if there are attorneys.  The bad news is that litigation can cost the client a lot of money. The good news is that the client has control over their own attitude, behavior, and level of assistance they seek from their attorney, which contributes to the cost.  The more willing and able the parties are to work together, the less the process will cost.  As you are considering whether to invest in the cost of an attorney, you should consider your ability to be objective in a matter of your own heart, and the benefit of having a strategic partner to walk you through the process.
  • It can be a LONG process: A contested divorce can be a long process (especially if there are children involved) so it can drag out for a long period of time, which costs time, money, and mental energy.
  • A divorce can be emotionally exhausting: People have different ways of processing emotions and divorce can have negative effects on anxiety levels, depression, and overall mental health.
  • A divorce can be forced upon you: If a party properly files for divorce, the other party cannot stop the proceeding; the divorce happens regardless of whether the other party wants to divorce or not.
  • This process does not offer closure: Some people need closure at the end of their relationships. Going through a divorce may not give one party the opportunity to express feelings or give a clean break to the relationship, since the parties may not be communicating directly.

Pros of Dissolution: 

  • Cost-effective: The time and money that you are spending on your attorney for the dissolution goes towards drafting the paperwork needed to achieve your separation. No trial prep is required for this option. Further, the parties can cut back on costs if they have already talked about how to split their assets, debts, and custody of any children.
    • Disclaimer: A dissolution is only cost-effective if both spouses are willing and able to work together.
  • It is relatively quick: If you and your spouse aren’t able to negotiate the terms of dissolution within a six month time period, the dissolution process probably isn’t for you and you should talk to an attorney about filing for divorce.  In situations where the parties work relatively well together, the dissolution can go quickly and will only require one final, fifteen-minute hearing at the end of the process.

Cons of Dissolution: 

  • It’s difficult to be a good candidate for a dissolution: Dissolutions require the parties to agree on ALL terms of the termination of marriage including, but not limited to court costs, attorneys fees, division of assets, allocation of debts, custody, parenting time, spousal support, and child support. Many parties cannot agree on everything before the filing of any documents, so dissolution is not an option.
  • A party can back out: When going through a dissolution, the parties take the risk that one of them may not be negotiating the terms in good faith. The parties could get several months into negotiations and one of the parties can refuse to sign any documents.  (This is why we recommend not negotiating a dissolution for more than six months).  Even if all documents are signed, there is a risk that one party will change their mind and tell the court that they do not want to agree to the signed documents at the final hearing. If that occurs, it is likely the Judge will not grant the dissolution at the final hearing, and the parties will need to go back to the drawing board on the terms of the dissolution, file for divorce, or abandon the dissolution of marriage altogether.
    • Disclaimer: It is important to note that any signed agreements may be able to be used in divorce and by signing documents, you are risking that a court will enforce signed agreements. Sign documents only after consulting with an attorney!

How do I protect myself financially once a divorce is filed?

How do I protect myself financially once a divorce is filed?

             Once a divorce is filed, the court automatically issues what is called a mutual restraining order. This restraining order prohibits the parties from taking debts in the other’s name; disposing of or destroying assets; terminating insurance; changing beneficiaries; withdrawing, spending, or transferring funds in a bank; terminating household utilities; among many other actions. If a party violates the restraining order, the other party may ask the court to force the party to pay back the money lost and may award other damages.

Forcing the parties to leave bank accounts untouched is not practical for most people. The parties are expected to continue paying their household bills, in the same manner, they paid them during the marriage.  Sometimes it is best for the parties to each start a new, separate account and begins placing money in that account once the divorce is filed. This enables the parties to abide by the restraining order, but still have access to their money.

Another workaround to the restraining order, are the temporary orders that can be put in place. (If you would like to read more about temporary orders, please click HERE). A party may ask the court to order their spouse to contribute to expenses and debts that the parties have incurred during their marriage. These debts can be as small as utility bills or can be as large as mortgages on a residence. Asking for contribution from the other party may help keep the status quo while the divorce is pending, so one party is not forced to be paying all debts during that time.



What is a temporary order?

What is a temporary order?

A temporary order is an order from the court, issued at the beginning of a divorce or custody motion that controls the terms by which the parties operate until the case is resolved. Temporary orders are most commonly found in divorces where a party asks the court to give a temporary parenting order so that the parties do not have to wait for the outcome of the case to have a formal parenting time schedule. Temporary orders designating custody, parenting time, and child support resolve issues that parties usually have in the beginning of a case but are only in effect during the pendency of the divorce. Temporary Orders involving only parenting terms generally do not require a hearing.  The Court uses the affidavits filed by each of the parties to issue these orders without holding a hearing. Either party may ask for a hearing if they would like to contest the orders that the Court puts in place.

Parties can also ask for temporary spousal support or payment of debts. Unlike custody, parenting, and child support, motions involving temporary payments of debt or spousal support generally require a hearing before there is an order issued.

Temporary Orders are not final and they typically last only until the final decree of divorce has been journalized.

Divorcing with Children in Warren County — What to Expect from the Court’s Dispute Resolution Services

While courts in Ohio operate under the same statutes, each county’s Domestic Relations Court differs greatly in the services offered outside of litigation, and the procedures for each service. As you begin the divorce process, it is important to be aware of which dispute resolution services are offered, as they can potentially improve your overall divorce process and outcome. Certain dispute resolution services have the potential to 1) allow you and your ex to decide the outcome of your case, rather than the Court, 2) avoid litigation, and 3) reduce the overall costs and time required to complete your case. The Warren County Domestic Relations Court currently offers the following four services:

  1. Mediation
  2. Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE)
  3. Psychological or Psychiatric Examinations
  4. Guardian ad litem (GAL)

Generally, these services can be ordered or requested at any point in the process, including before or after a divorce, as parenting, property, or support issues arise. While all of these services offered are designed to help litigants, each service differs greatly in the role it plays in the court process. Currently, ENE is the only service offered that can address property and support issues, while the rest are reserved for parenting matters.

Mediation & Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE):

In the Warren County Domestic Relations Court, both mediation and Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE) are designed to facilitate a settlement, meaning you can negotiate the terms of your case without the Court deciding for you. It also means your case can potentially be completed much sooner than through the litigation process. They are both confidential processes, and the Court staff who participate would not testify or be a hearing officer at any future hearing. There is no additional cost for mediation and ENE services provided by the Court.

Mediation occurs between the parties and a Magistrate who is a trained mediator. This Magistrate would not be a hearing officer in your case. Attorneys and/or support persons may also attend if advance notice is provided. Any agreements reached in mediation do not become binding until submitted to and accepted by the Court in the appropriate format, such as a Shared Parenting Plan or Agreed Entry. Parties may engage in as many sessions as needed, so long as the mediator agrees that additional sessions are productive.

Local Rule 5.3(A) defines the Court’s ENE service as, “a Court ordered dispute resolution process in which the Early Neutral Evaluator provides an evaluation of the probable outcome of any parenting, property or support dispute.” Unlike mediation, ENE can be used to address any parenting, property, or support issues. The ENE process involves the parties, their attorneys (if represented), and the Evaluator, currently Magistrate Iversen. The Evaluator involved in your ENE session would not be a hearing officer in your case. Parties are first required to complete and submit a brief one week prior to the session, which gives the Evaluator an overview of what each party is seeking and why. During the ENE session, the parties and their attorneys are each given their own designated time to argue their respective positions, without the constraints and formalities of an actual trial. Once the parties and their attorneys have presented their positions, the Evaluator then provides an evaluation of the probable outcome of the case. Following the evaluation, additional time is built into the session to allow the parties to negotiate based upon the evaluation just received. This opportunity can be extremely productive once the parties have been given a realistic assessment of their case. ENE sessions are scheduled for 3-4 hours, followed by a scheduling conference to notify the hearing officer whether any agreements were reached as a result of ENE.


Psychological/Psychiatric Examinations & Guardians ad Litem (GAL):

Psychological and/or Psychiatric Examinations and Guardians ad litem (GAL) are utilized to assist the Court during a trial to allocate parental rights and responsibilities, including custody and parenting schedules.

If the Court determines that an evaluation of a party is needed before it can properly allocate parental rights and responsibilities, the Court will order a psychological or psychiatric examination, and the appropriate professional will be appointed by the Court. Attorneys are not permitted to communicate with or provide documentation to the professional unless approved by the Court. Once the evaluation is completed, the professional will provide the Court with a written report and recommendations at least 30 days prior to the hearing. The report is also provided to the attorneys, or the parties directly. The report is accepted into evidence as direct testimony, and the professional is considered to be the Court’s witness. If either party wishes to cross-examine the professional, they must facilitate the professional’s appearance at their hearing, and be responsible for any fees associated with their appearance. The Court will allocate the costs of the evaluation between the parties.

A Guardian ad litem (GAL) is appointed by the Court to represent the best interests of your child(ren). A GAL is often a family law attorney (although not a requirement), who has satisfied specific training requirements set forth by the Supreme Court of Ohio. A GAL will visit your respective homes and speak with the family members individually and any third parties as needed or requested by the parents (teachers, doctors, friends, etc.). A GAL may be appointed upon request of either party or by the Court on its own. Once a GAL has completed their investigation, a report is submitted to the Court (but not filed with the Court) and served upon the attorneys, or parties, at least fourteen days prior to the hearing. A GAL report is accepted as direct evidence. If either party wishes to question the GAL at the hearing, they must subpoena the GAL and will be responsible for their fees related to their attendance. Absent a subpoena, a GAL will not attend the hearing. While other counties determine a standard rate for their GALs, GAL’s in Warren County are permitted to set their own reasonable rate, which ranges generally from $100 to $200 per hour. Absent extraordinary circumstances, total GAL fees are typically expected to be around $1,500 excluding any Court appearances.


If you would like to learn more about these services and procedures, please visit:



  • 5 Appointment of Guardian Ad Litem (GAL)
  • 6 Psychological or Psychiatric Examinations
  • 2 Mediation
  • 5.3 Early Neutral Evaluation