Domestic Relations Division
This division of the Court has jurisdiction over divorce, dissolution, spousal support, child support, and custody in family disputes.
The Domestic Relations Division focuses on those cases involving divorce, dissolution, legal separation, child support and other family-related matters. It also hears cases involving certain types of protection order requests.
Ohio residents have the option of terminating their marriages either (a) by agreement through dissolution or (b) by filing a divorce action. In addition, the spouses may want to remain married but formalize their rights and duties through a court-ordered legal separation. These legal proceedings may be complicated, so it is a good idea to talk to an attorney about what method is available and best for you. Court staff may give you some general information but cannot tell you what you should do or how to do it. However, all situations are unique, so the forms you need may not be available on this website.
When a marriage is terminated, there are four (4) main areas that the spouses, attorneys, and Court must address:
- The basis for terminating the marriage – If a divorce, the person who wants the divorce must allege either a fault or no-fault basis to end the marriage; if a dissolution, both spouses must desire to end the marriage.
- The property and debt division – This includes real estate, furniture, cars, tools, pensions, bank accounts, as well as credit card accounts, hospital bills, mortgage or equity loans, and car loans.
- Allocation of parental rights and responsibilities, if there are minor children – This includes the children’s living arrangements, financial support, medical insurance, and tax dependent status. Except in cases of adoption, this may also include determining whether the husband is the children’s biological father.
- Spousal support (what used to be called “alimony”) – One spouse may request some ongoing support, other than child support.
The Domestic Relations Division hears divorces, dissolutions of marriage, and any matters regarding minor children that relate to those terminations of marriage. The Court maintains “continuing jurisdiction” over all matters concerning minor children of terminated marriages, which means that the Court can modify the orders regarding children. The Domestic Relations Division also hears all the requests for civil protection orders (CPOs), whether based on domestic violence, stalking, or a sexually oriented offense
You have several options. The Court cannot appoint lawyers for divorces, dissolutions, or related cases, except in some situations when the other party claims you are in “contempt” for violating a court order. You may represent yourself, which is referred to as acting “pro se”. You have a right to represent yourself, but this can be challenging because of the legal rules that affect your rights and obligations. You may also contact the Seneca County Bar Association for the names of lawyers who handle cases in the area of domestic relations. You may also contact Legal Aid of Western Ohio at 1-888-534-1432 to see if you are eligible for their services.
If you have an attorney, any notices of hearing would have been sent to the attorney. If you represent yourself, the Court will send the notice of hearing directly to you at the address the Court has in its records. You may also contact the Clerk of Courts or the Domestic Relations Court. It is helpful if you have a case number when you call. You can also check the status of your case by going to the Seneca County Clerk of Court’s website and typing in your case number and reviewing the docket to tell what has been filed in the case.
A Magistrate acts for the Judge in cases assigned to the Magistrate. The Judges hire experienced attorneys to hear certain kinds of cases and to issue decisions. That process lets your case be heard more quickly because the Judge also hears criminal cases and other civil lawsuits. The Judges are elected and make the final decisions in all cases in the Court. The rules regarding magistrates, their decisions and orders, and the process of objection are all found in Rule 53 of the Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure.
You can file a motion for a continuance, and you should file it as early as possible so the Court has time to review it and notify others if the hearing is going to be continued. You need to write out the reason for your request to reschedule the hearing, file the request with the Clerk of Courts, and send a copy to the other party or attorney.
DO NOT ASSUME THE HEARING IS CONTINUED JUST BECAUSE YOU ASK. You need to check with the Court and see if the continuance was granted. If it was not granted, you must come to the hearing or the hearing may be held without you. If there is an emergency situation that does not allow you to file a written request, telephone the Court right away to find out whether the Court will continue the hearing.
The Court does have some forms and instructions to assist people who want to represent themselves. The Court does not have a complete packet of everything you might need, as each divorce case is unique.
The easiest way is to contact an attorney to help you. There are many papers that must be completed and legal requirements that must be met. In addition, an attorney can give you advice about your options and the best decisions to make and can speak for you when at court. This process is more thoroughly explained above, under “Terminating Your Marriage”.
No. You can only file for divorce in Ohio if you have been a resident of Ohio for at least six months immediately before you file for divorce. If you now reside in another state, you need to check the laws of that state.
Most people have to terminate their marriages through divorce rather than annulment. Annulments can only be granted under very limited circumstances related to the validity of the original marriage (for example, if one spouse is a bigamist, is incompetent, or forced the other to marry). If the spouses have cohabited or consummated the marriage, annulment is generally not available.
You can live separately without legal proceedings, or you can request a court order of legal separation. The process is similar to divorce, except that you will remain legally married to one another. The Court can make orders regarding your property and any minor children. You should talk to an attorney about the benefits, if any, in your circumstances of getting a decree of legal separation rather than a divorce.
Certified or other copies of your divorce decree or judgment entry may be obtained through the office of the Seneca County Clerk of Courts, located on the 1st Floor of the Seneca County Justice Center.
A QDRO is a Qualified Domestic Relations Order that is governed by federal law and relates to certain pension plans. It divides the pension or retirement benefits. These orders have very specific and technical requirements, and they must be approved by the pension plan administrators. The parties or attorneys are responsible for preparing the QDRO and getting it approved by the pension plan administrator.
If you have an order that requires your former spouse to do certain things, and the former spouse does not comply, you can file a motion to show cause or to find your former spouse in contempt for violating the order. The motion should specify the circumstances that you say violate the order and what part of the prior order you say was violated. Forms and instructions for this process are available here.
The first step is to get to a safe place. Domestic violence and certain threatening behavior is a criminal offense, so you may contact your local law enforcement agency. You may also file a petition for a civil protection order (CPO). The petition forms are available through the Seneca County Victim’s Assistance Program located at:
79 S. Washington Street
Tiffin, OH 44883
You may also contact the First Step Domestic Violence Shelter at 419-435-7300, for the assistance of a victim advocate. If there is a pending divorce case, you may also file for additional orders related to the children, contact, or possession of the home.
Child Support & Family Related Matters FAQs
If you have filed for divorce or legal separation, you can request temporary orders that include a child support payment. If you have not filed for divorce or legal separation but are living apart, you may contact the Seneca County Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) at:
900 E. CR. 20
Tiffin, OH 44883
You can contact the Seneca County Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) at 419-447-5011 to speak with your caseworker. You may also contact Ohio Child Support Payment Central at 1-800-860-2555. There may be payments made that have not been properly processed. If payments are not being made as ordered, you may file a motion with the Court to find the obligor (the one who owes support) in contempt for failing to pay as ordered. Forms and instructions for that process are available here.
You may begin making payments as soon as you have a SETS (State Enforcement Tracking System) number, which you can get from the Seneca County Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) at:
900 E. CR. 20
Tiffin, OH 44883
You can then send payments directly, until payments are withheld from your wages, to Ohio Child Support Payment Central at:
P.O. Box 182372
Columbus, OH 43218
All payments should include: YOUR NAME, SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER, and YOUR SETS NUMBER for that case.
No. Ohio law requires that all child support payments be made through Ohio Child Support Payment Central and administered by the CSEA.
If you have an order that specifies how the medical bills are to be paid and your former spouse is not following that order, you can file a motion to show cause or to find your former spouse in contempt for violating the court order. Before filing the motion, you must have provided your former spouse with copies of the bills in a timely manner and shown what amounts were due to you. You will have to prove to the Court what amounts are due based on the court order.
If you have an order that grants you parenting time and the children’s other parent refuses to allow you to see the children or interferes with that parenting time, you can file a motion to show cause or to find your former spouse in contempt for violating the order. The motion should specify the times and dates when you were denied parenting time.
You have two options. You can contact the Seneca County Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) at:
900 E. CR. 20
Tiffin, OH 44883
Ask that the agency review your case for a modification of the order, or you can file a motion to modify child support directly with the Court. Both parents will have to provide documents to verify incomes and other financial information so that the support may be recalculated to determine if the court order should be changed. Forms and instructions for filing directly with the Court are available here.
When the child should no longer receive support, the person who receives the child support is required to notify the Seneca County Child Enforcement Agency (CSEA). Unfortunately, that person does not always immediately notify the CSEA, so you may notify the CSEA. When the CSEA receives notice from either of you, it will investigate the case and recommend to the Court about holding funds until the support can be properly adjusted or other orders made. Alternatively, you may file a motion directly with the Court to terminate the support and to hold or suspend all or some of the payment for the child who is an adult. Forms and instructions for this process are available here.
You may file a motion to change the residential parent and to terminate or suspend the payment of child support until the Court can make some final decisions. Only the Court, either by approving any agreement you have with your former spouse or by issuing its own orders, can change the designation of residential parent or modify the child support.
Yes. Ohio law requires that the residential parent or custodian of a minor child under a court order notify the Court and the other party prior to relocation.
Forms are available for many of the common cases and scenarios seen by the Domestic Court on a daily basis. Please select which case best fits your specific scenario to download a PDF packet. A listing of individual forms is also available if you are in need of one specific form.
Disclaimer: Please be aware that none of the forms presented on this website contain instructions or legal advice regarding your rights, responsibilities, and legal options. To become fully informed and to gain the answers to any questions regarding these, you should seek the advice of an attorney.
Additional programming and services provided by the court, along with helpful links to other commonly used resources.