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Turner divorce highlights Ohio law regarding fault grounds

Dayton residents have likely been following the recent headlines devoted to Ohio's tenth district congressional representative Michael Turner. Turner's hotly contested high-asset divorce was about to draw another Republican congressman into its orbit, and although the couple settled, an interesting point of Ohio family law was raised in the process.

Turner married well-off lobbyist Majida Mourad in late 2015. Divorce proceedings began last spring, with Turner seeking a six-figure settlement from Mourad. Rumors had circulated about the possibility of a romance between Mourad and Turner's congressional colleague Darrel Issa, and Turner's legal team had even indicated they would seek a deposition from Issa.

The couple, however, did reach an undisclosed settlement and finalized their divorce without Issa's involvement. For his part, Issa maintained nothing happened with Mourad, noting that Turner did not claim infidelity in his divorce filings. "In Ohio, you can claim infidelity," Issa noted, "[Turner] didn't."

What Issa is referring to here is Ohio's system of "fault grounds," or legally valid reasons to sue for a divorce. Adultery is one such fault ground, and it requires supporting testimony from a witness. It is still possible to end a marriage in Ohio without alleging fault, however, but this is called a dissolution of marriage instead of a divorce and it requires the couple to reach agreement on their issues before going to court. A traditional divorce is just the opposite, with spouses litigating their issues in court and a judge making a final ruling.

Dayton residents seeking a traditional divorce should understand that they will need to establish fault according to Ohio law in order to do so. Otherwise, dissolution of marriage is the alternative. A legal professional can help assess which process a resident may wish to follow in order to best protect his or her rights and interests.

Source: Politico, "Turner settles divorce case, so Issa won't be deposed," John Bresnahan, Rachael Bade and Jake Sherman, March 2, 2018

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