May 2, 2007 - A strange divorce case involving a husband's desire to seek a California divorce and his wife's intention of filing for divorce in Ohio eventually turned on the Buckeye State's residency requirement and further reveals the importance of knowing the divorce laws in your state.
A recent article in the Chillicothe Gazette explained the strange circumstances surrounding the divorce of Andrea and Jeffrey Barth, who were married in 1989 and made Ohio their place of residence for nearly ten years beginning in 1994. When Jeffrey Barth relocated to California in February 2004 for work purposes, Andrea stayed back in Ohio with the couple's children until the end of the school year.
In July of 2004, Andrea and her children moved out to California to be with Jeffrey. Some 40 days later, Andrea would return to Ohio with her children after learning that Jeffrey had been cheating on her while staying in California all by his "lonesome" self.
Upon returning to the Midwest, Andrea Barth filed for an Ohio divorce. Her husband quickly filed for divorce in California and moved that his wife's Ohio divorce request be dismissed based on the state's divorce law.
Specifically, Jeffrey Barth and his California divorce lawyer claimed that Andrea's divorce request did not meet the residency requirement as stipulated in Ohio divorce laws. According to the divorce laws in Ohio, a person must be a resident in the state in the immediate six months before filing for divorce.
Since Andrea had lived in California for one month and some small change, Jeffrey claimed that his wife's Ohio divorce complaint did not meet the state's residency requirement and thus had no merit.
Andrea and her Ohio divorce lawyer had her divorce request upheld in appeals court before the case came to the state Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the cheating husband despite the objections of Justice Paul E. Pfeifer.
Pfeifer wrote in the Chillicothe Gazette story how this strange divorce case required the Ohio Supreme Court to examine the strict residency requirement in much more detail and determine whether it allowed the court to consider one party's intent and the other's fraudulent inducement to leave Ohio.
With this information in mind, the Ohio Supreme Court came to a 6-1 decision in favor of Jeffrey Barth's motion to have his wife's Ohio divorce request rejected. After further looking into the strict residency requirement as stipulated in Ohio divorce law, the majority found that there is no leeway with this requirement. As one example, the Ohio Supreme Court justices found that the strict residency requirement does not allow them to consider the motives of either spouse.
Based on these decisions, the majority ruled that Andrea Barth's Ohio divorce request had no merit because she did not meet the state's residency requirement. Since she lived in California for 40 days, Andrea was no longer a resident of Ohio according to the majority decision. Using the strict residency requirement in the divorce laws in Ohio as the basis of their decision, the state Supreme Court overturned the appeals court ruling and dealt Andrea Barth another blow after learning of her husband's extramarital affairs.
Pfeifer disagreed with this decision and wrote in the Chillicothe Gazette article how Andrea moved to California without being aware of all the facts in her situation: that her husband was cheating on her while she was back in Ohio. Pfeifer described Andrea Barth's time in California as being "an extended - and very bad - vacation." Unfortunately for Andrea Barth, the remaining justices of the Ohio Supreme Court did not share Pfeifer's opinion.
Ultimately, this case is a good example of why you must know the divorce laws in your state when inquiring about divorce. While Andrea Barth was the victim of some unfortunate circumstances, this case illustrates how state divorce laws may not allow people to do certain things that may seem logical.