A divorce is where one spouse files a complaint to end the marriage. Upon filing for termination of a marriage the Court must decide numerous issues. Some of the most common issues include, but are not limited to:
- Child custody
- Child support
- Child visitation
- Spousal support
- Property division
- Disposition of the marital residence
If you intend to proceed with or finalize your divorce, it is advisable to seek experienced, knowledgeable and aggressive legal representation immediately. I can provide personalized, attentive, hands-on client care throughout all stages of your case.
The residential parent of a child is entitled to child support from the non-residential parent. Issues of child support are often raised in tandem with custody and visitation issues. Child support is determined by looking at a number of factors including but not limited to income, child care expenses, and number of children.
- Support is normally paid until the child reaches the age of 18
- Parents are released from the obligation of paying child support to emancipated minors
- Child Support may be available for a disabled child after the age of 18
Spousal Support can be ordered when there is a significant discrepancy between the incomes of the parties. Under Ohio law, the court must consider 14 statutory factors when determining how much monthly spousal support, if any, will be awarded. In most cases, two important factors are the length of the marriage and the income of each party. The goal of spousal support is to reach an equitable result. The court must consider whether spousal support is appropriate and reasonable.
Because there is no black letter law as to determining Spousal Support in Ohio, some magistrates and judges use a general rule of thumb that allows one year’s worth of spousal support for every three or every five years of the marriage’s length. Other magistrates and judges may use an equalization approach. It is not uncommon for the court to include, in the spousal support award, provisions stating that the spousal support will stop if the former spouse remarries or cohabits with another person.
There is no general rule used when determining the amount of spousal support that should be awarded. The award amount is determined on a case-by-case basis and largely depends upon each party’s wages, the discrepancy between the wage amounts, and each person’s monthly necessary expenses. Other factors also are considered, including the education, earning capacity and health of each spouse. The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage is also considered by the court.
A dissolution is method to terminate a marriage where both parties enter into a Separation Agreement addressing all issues concerning the termination of their marriage. A petition is filed with the court and the Separation Agreement is attached. Both parties must appear at the final hearing. Neither party needs to state grounds against the other.
An annulment has the effect of invalidating a marriage. An annulment may be an option when the marriage did not meet certain legal requirements. Thus, an annulment is void – the marriage never existed. An annulment is different from a divorce because a divorced couple was once legally married, whereas the parties to an annulment were never legally married in the eyes of the law. In comparison to divorces, annulments are relatively rare.
The principal grounds for annulment are bigamy, marrying before the legal age of marriage, and the mental incapacity of one or both persons at the time of their marriage, or that the consent of either spouse to the marriage was obtained by fraud or force.
One of the reasons that a spouse files for a legal separation instead of a divorce is because one or both spouses are not certain whether they want a divorce. A legal separation gives the couple distance from each other to consider a divorce. A legal separation has many of the aspects of a divorce; for example, a legal separation is litigated in the same way as a divorce. The Court can make orders for division of property, allocation of parental rights and responsibilities and support. If legally separated parties may not remarry.
GUARDIAN AD LITEM
A Guardian ad Litem is appointed by the court to represent the best interest of a child for duration of the case. A judge appoints a Guardian ad Litem by request of one or both of the parents. The Guardian ad Litem serves to represent the well-being and interests of a child or children.
A Guardian ad Litem’s primary responsibility is to conduct an investigation regarding the child’s circumstances including history, environment, relationships, and needs and objectively determines the relevant facts. This information is gathered through interviewing the child, the child’s family and those who know the child, such as school personnel and mental health providers. The Guardian ad Litem also reviews school, children services, health and other appropriate records. This information is the basis for recommendations provided to the court which assist the court in its determination of what is in the child’s best interest.
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A premarital agreement – also known as a prenuptial agreement – is a contract the spouses enter into prior to marriage. The premarital agreement has the purpose of predetermining the distribution of property if the marriage ends in a dissolution. Additionally, the prenuptial often stipulates the amount of support that a spouse will receive in the event of a dissolution. Whereas prenuptial agreements used to be for the wealthy, the legal instrument is in wide use among the various income brackets and ages. Prenuptial agreements are particularly important in second, third and subsequent marriages. As the spouses grow in age, family, and wealth, these additional concerns must be addressed.
POST DECREE MODIFICATIONS
Once a marriage has been terminated and the Court has issued it’s orders as to custody, support, and visitation a change of circumstances may occur that requires that the case be brought back before the Court. The most common reasons to bring the case back to Court is if there has been a significant change of circumstances in the lives of one of the parents, such as a negative change in lifestyle that may put the a child to risk or a change in income requiring a modification of the child support order.
Once a Domestic Relations Court has issued an order with regards to custody, visitation, or child support, the Court expects that the order be adhered to and failure to do so can result in several consequences. Consequences include fines, attorney’s fees, and in extreme cases jail time. A contempt action can be an appropriate action to take if a party is not abiding by the order of the Court.
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