It happens every day. A husband or wife receives a certified mail from the clerk of courts. They open the mail without knowing what’s inside. To their surprise, it’s a summons and complaint. Their spouse has filed for divorce! They’re devastated and don’t know what to do. There are a lot of things that a person can do at a moment like this. But there’s one thing that they absolutely cannot do — ignore it.
The Big Picture
In Ohio, your spouse is not in a better position legally because he or she is the one who filed for divorce. Likewise, you wouldn’t have the upper hand if you raced to the courthouse and filed for divorce first. Ohio law provides four ways for spouses to end or alter their marital relationship: legal separation, divorce, dissolution of marriage, and annulment. None of those procedures are impacted by which party was the first to file.
You Must Take Action
Many spouses want to bury their heads in the sand and think their spouse will change their minds. Others believe that if they don’t fight or hire a lawyer, their spouse will treat them “fairly.” Others may be frozen by fear or depression. Don’t make the same mistakes. If you ignore a divorce complaint, you are putting yourself at risk that:
- The case will be set for a non-contested hearing;
- No one will be there to protect your rights;
- Your spouse’s testimony will go unchallenged;
- Your spouse’s lawyer will write the final decree of divorce for the judge’s approval; and
- It will be very difficult, if not impossible, for you to challenge the final divorce decree.
Don’t bury your head in the sand. If you believe your spouse has filed for divorce, it is imperative that you immediately confer with an experienced divorce attorney. Protect your rights by calling the divorce attorneys at Wuliger & Wuliger at (216) 781-7777.