When a couple files for dissolution, they work together to ask the Court to agree with their plan to end their marriage. You will have to fill out a set of detailed forms and go to Court, but dissolution only takes 30 to 90 days from the time you file until your marriage ends. That is likely less time than it would take to get a divorce.
You can only get a dissolution if you and your spouse both agree on everything about ending the marriage. If you do not agree, you can consider filing for divorce instead. If you start the dissolution process, but then disagree before the dissolution is finalized, you will need to convert your dissolution into a divorce.
If you’re in an abusive relationship, consider speaking with a lawyer. Abuse can complicate a dissolution. Working with a lawyer can help keep you safe while ending your marriage.
Talk with your spouse
Sit down with your spouse to talk about how you want things to be after your marriage ends. Make a list of what you need to decide, including:
If you both agree on the answers to all of these questions, you will file together for dissolution.
If you can't agree on those questions, you won't be able to get a dissolution. You may want to consider filing for a divorce instead, and the Court will help decide what's fair.
Fill out the forms
Go to filing for a dissolution to get the forms you will need to fill out and details about how to file them. Fill out the forms together with your spouse. You will need to figure out details, like specific amounts of money or schedules for custody.
One of the forms is a “petition for dissolution,” where you and your spouse ask the Court to let you end your marriage. You also will include a separation agreement, where you and your spouse explain how you plan to divide things like your car, house, money or debt.
You will have more forms to fill out if you have children together. If you plan to share parenting after the dissolution, your forms will need to explain how you and your spouse will handle things like school, medical issues and child support.
The paperwork in a dissolution is very detailed. You and your spouse must agree on everything in your forms. Then you will ask the Court to review your agreement and make it legally binding.
Bring the forms to Court
- Once forms are completed, print them. You can print your forms at:
- Any Dayton Public Library Branch for 10 cents per page
- Montgomery County Law Library for 20 cents per page (the Law Library only accepts cash or a check as payment)
- After you print your forms, you will both need to sign your documents in front of a notary. You can find a notary by searching on your browser for “a notary near me.” You can also wait to sign your papers until you get to the Court. The Court has staff who can notarize your forms for you.
- Drop off your completed, signed and notarized forms at the Court Navigator's Office. The Navigator's Office is in Room 222. To find the Navigator’s Office, get off the elevator on the second floor and go around the corner to the right. The Navigator’s Office is the second window past the Sheriff, in front of the stairs. There is a bin for drop off and pick up.
- The Compliance Office will contact you after their review is complete. They will tell you if you need to make changes to your forms. Note: They usually contact you by phone, so make sure they have your correct phone number. If you need to make edits to your forms, they may ask you to come in to make the changes or may send you a letter describing the changes you need to make.
- If you need to make edits to your forms, read the letter from Compliance carefully and make the requested changes. Compliance allows you to make the edits directly on to the printed document by using white out and writing in blue ink the updated response or filling in ink a missing response. Do not cross out anything already on your forms, you must use white out to make corrections. You can also log back in to your MCDRC account and make the changes online and reprint your packet.
- After you make your changes, drop off your forms for review at the Compliance Office in Room 261 in the Courthouse. If you need to resign and notarize your forms, the Court has staff who can notarize your forms for you.
- Once your forms are approved for filing, you will get a call from the Compliance Office. Your forms will be available for pick up in the “pick up” bin at the Compliance Office.
- If you have questions, you can contact the Compliance Office at (937) 225-4782.
- When you pick up your forms, the Compliance staff will give you log-in information and direct you to a computer kiosk next to the Compliance Office. You will log-in and enter the basic case information into the Court’s computer system. This case information will be included in your printed packet of forms on the form named “Primary Party Questionnaire.” Please refer to the Questionnaire as you enter your information into the system.
- Once you have submitted your Primary Party Questionnaire on the Court’s computer, take your forms to the Clerk of Court’s Office. The Clerk of Court’s Office is located on the first floor in Room 104 of the Common Pleas Court Building, at 41 N. Perry Street. The Domestic Relations Court is connected to the Common Pleas Court Building through an indoor walkway, so you do not need to walk outside to get to the Clerk of Court’s Office.
- Give the clerk your forms to file.
There will be a fee when you file — $400 for a dissolution with children or $300 for a dissolution without children.
If you have a low income and can’t afford the filing fee, you can choose to add a Poverty Affidavit to create an additional form to file with your packet of documents. This form asks that you be allowed to file without paying a fee upfront. You may still be responsible for paying the fee at the end of the case.
Prepare for the hearing
After you file your paperwork, the Court’s assignment office will schedule a final hearing 30 to 90 days from the date you filed. You and your spouse must attend this hearing.
If you need to make any changes to your separation agreement before your hearing, put those changes into an “amendment,” or update, to your original agreement. Do not present a new separation agreement to the Court.
Go to the parenting seminar
If you and your spouse have children together, you will need to complete a seminar called “Helping Children Succeed after Divorce.” The Court will send you an order if this is required in your case.
You may not have to take the seminar if you can show “good cause” or prove to the Court why you don’t need it. Otherwise, you must register for the seminar and follow the Court’s order. You won’t be able to have a final hearing until you do.
Submit your Final Judgment and Decree
You must submit a draft final dissolution, called a proposed Final Judgment and Decree of Dissolution, with the Court at least 21 days before your final hearing. If you don’t submit this paperwork, your case could be dismissed, or thrown out. The form will include information about your case and say who should pay the final costs of the dissolution.
You can find step-by-step instructions on how to fill out and submit the final decree in articles on this site:
The Court’s chief magistrate or their representative will review your separation agreement before your final hearing. If you need to make any changes to the separation agreement, include it as an update to your original separation agreement or put it into your proposed decree of dissolution.
Attend the hearing together
You and your spouse must both go to the hearing. The Judge (or Magistrate) will ask you and your spouse questions about the agreements you filed to make sure neither of you have changed your mind about anything. If you or your spouse disagree at the hearing, the Judge may ask you to start the process over with a new dissolution or change your current case into a divorce.
It is the Judge’s job to make sure you and your spouse are both willing to end your marriage through the terms of your dissolution agreements, and neither of you is being forced. If the Judge agrees that the agreement is fair to both of you, he or she will submit a "judgment" to the Montgomery County Clerk of Courts that legally ends your marriage.