Family Law

Family Law

Emotions can run high when facing the end of a marriage or questions about custody of your children. You need an attorney who understands that and will listen closely while helping you determine your goals and objectives. Once those are known, we can work together to achieve them. I will protect your interests and safeguard your rights while helping you through a difficult process.

Divorce and Dissolution
The end of a marriage is an emotional time. Even when both spouses are in agreement, issues and conflicts can arise. You need an attorney to listen, to help you develop your goals and objectives, and to guide you through the process.

In Ohio there are two methods by which a marriage can be ended, divorce and dissolution. A divorce is a contested process in which the parties do not agree upon the issues surrounding the break-up, including the division of property and debts, custody of any children, and child support, and spousal support or alimony. The process begins with a filing with the Domestic Relations Court and proceeds through negotiations and mediation sessions as the parties attempt to come to a resolution. If one cannot be reached, a contested hearing is held in front of a judge or magistrate who will listen to the evidence presented by both sides and make a determination.

A dissolution is a more streamlined process in which both spouses are, for the most part, in agreement as to the issues surrounding the break-up. Prior to the filing of any paperwork with the Domestic Relations Court, both sides negotiate the terms of the settlement as to the division of assets and debts, the custody of any children, child support, spousal support, and any other applicable issues. Once the terms of the settlement is agreed upon, the parties then file the paperwork with the court. The court will then hold a hearing after a minimum of 30 days has passed. Assuming both spouses are still in agreement, the court generally will then approve the agreed settlement and the marriage will be dissolved.

A single attorney is not permitted to represent both spouses in a dissolution since it is still a contested hearing where each spouse has competing interests. A single attorney can be retained by one spouse and would then represent that spouses interests in working out the terms of the settlement with the second, unrepresented spouse. After the settlement has been reduced to writing, the second spouse would then be free to have it reviewed by another attorney or to proceed without an attorney. However, it is important to remember that an attorney retained in such a scenario has no obligations to the second spouse, only to their client.

Child Custody
There are situations separate from divorce and dissolution proceedings during which the custody of children is at issue. These can include modifications of previous custody orders, the establishment of paternity, and the determination of custody, visitation schedules and support between unmarried parents. While focusing on the single issue of custody and support, these cases are no less complicated or emotional than a divorce or dissolution. An attorney is necessary to guide you through the process and to protect your rights. Every parent is obligated to support their children. If you have a child with someone who does nothing to support your child, you are entitled to receive child support from the other parent. Sometimes this will also include establishing paternity if the parents were never married. An unmarried father who has never legally established paternity has no automatic rights to visitation with his children. Custody and visitation can only be determined after paternity is established.

Children Services Abuse, Neglect, and Dependency Cases
Facing allegations from a Children Services Agency can feel much the same as facing a criminal charge. But since it involves the custody of your children, it also can be a frightening and emotional experience. You need an attorney who understands the process and can guide you through it.

A children services agency will take action based upon the reports and observations of others. Early on in the process, both the agency and the courts intend to err on the safe side not wanting to risk harm coming to the children involved. If your family becomes involved with a children services agency, there are things that they are allowed to require of you and there are things that they will want you to do that you might not be required to complete. Generally, it is best to cooperate with the agency if possible. This can sometimes avoid the filing of an abuse, neglect or dependency case against you in the Juvenile Court. But once one is filed, you need an attorney to protect your rights and relationship with your children. An abuse, neglect or dependency case can have a wide range of resolutions, going from the completion of basic services, to court ordered protective supervision of the children by the children services agency, to the awarding custody to the agency. The award of custody in is most cases temporary and the agency works with the parents to correct the problems and return the children to them. However, in the most severe cases of abuse and neglect, custody can be permanently awarded to the children service agency and all parental rights terminated.

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