I am not a lawyer, and during our 16-month marital separation I never hired a family law attorney. We did hire a professional divorce mediator and I had extensive talks with her and I did some reading. Each state is different but I think a lot of principles are very similar from state to state.
In Ohio you can get a voluntary dissolution. This is where both husband and wife agree on all issues as far as property division, child support, visitation, etc. and then ask the judge to dissolve their marriage.
You can also have a legal separation in Ohio. You can both agree to stay married but live separately and you agree on the issues such as property settlement, child support, and visitation, then you ask the judge to grant a legal separation. The main difference between a legal separation and a dissolution or divorce is that while you are legally separated you cannot remarry.
Also in Ohio, you can file for divorce. A divorce is basically a lawsuit between husband and wife. The judge will hear all the evidence from both husband and wife and then he will make a ruling as to the property division, child support, visitation, etc. My understanding is that Ohio is a no-fault divorce state so that if one partner wants out of a marriage, eventually they will get their divorce regardless of whether their partner wants one.
Ohio does a little known and little used clause in it’s divorce laws where one party can ask the judge to order counseling for the couple. It is up to the judge’s discretion as to whether to make that order or not.
In Ohio you can use a mediator outside of the court to help both parties come to an agreement on all the issues. I do not know the law well enough to know if the judge can order mediation or not.
My general understanding is that the starting point for calculating child support is a formula that looks at the incomes of each partner, where the child would be living and many other things. The judge can rule something different after hearing all of the circumstances.
I know this blog is read by people in many states and countries so I urge you to check your local laws. Hopefully, what I have shared is a good starting point to help you know what questions to ask in your own jurisdiction.