Q:

I’m thinking about ending my marriage. What should I do?

A:

Consult with a lawyer experienced in domestic relations law.  There are many issues in a divorce case, many of which you probably aren’t thinking about.  It is important to have an understanding of the process right from the start.

Q:

My spouse just filed for divorce. What should I do?

A:

You have 28 days from the date you were served to file an answer.  You need to schedule an appointment with an attorney as soon as possible. 

A Court may have issued temporary orders prior to a hearing.  A temporary order is an order that establishes rules on certain issues during the pendency of a divorce case. Temporary orders can address how your expenses will be divided, child custody and support and spousal support.  If you and your spouse are able to agree, you can file an agreed temporary order. If you and your spouse cannot agree, you will need to file a motion with the court to modify the temporary orders. 

Q:

What is the difference between divorce and dissolution?

A:

Divorce is a civil lawsuit to end a marriage. The parties ask the court to make the final decisions concerning property division, spousal support and matters regarding the children. 

Dissolution of marriage is an action where the parties mutually agree to terminate their marriage. The parties sign a separation agreement that addresses all property, spousal and child support and custody issues.

Q:

How is spousal support calculated in Ohio?

A:

It depends on what county you live in.  Each judge employs different rules in calculating spousal support.

In Warren County, for example, spousal support typically only becomes an issue in marriages lasting at least five years. Typically the length and amount of spousal support will increase the longer the term of marriage.

Q:

How is custody decided?

A:

In every case involving children, the court orders a custody and parenting order. The primary consideration is the best interest of the child. Ohio Revised Code 3109.04(F)(1) provides many factors to be considered in making a determination.

Q:

How is child support determined in Ohio?

A:

Ohio law requires child support to be calculated under child support guidelines. The law sets basic support schedules that must be used to determine the amount of child support, based on the number of children and the combined gross income of the parents, as well as other factors and/or credits.  The Court can deviate from the guidelines, depending on the particular circumstances of your case.

Q:

What is shared parenting?

A:

"Shared parenting" is the term Ohio uses for what many other states refer to as "joint custody."  The court may allocate the parental rights and responsibilities for the care of the children to both parents. It does not necessarily mean an equal division of time with the children.

Q:

What is collaborative law?

A:

Collaborative Law (also called Collaborative Divorce or Collaborative Practice) is a structured process that provides an alternative to court. The Collaborative choice offers you the opportunity to focus on what is important to you, your family and your future.

The lawyers and clients sign a Participation Agreement which provides that if the parties are unable to reach a settlement, the lawyers will withdraw from the case and assist the clients in transitioning the case to trial attorneys. By establishing an open, cooperative environment, parties and their counsel can work toward a settlement that benefits everyone.

Q:

How is property divided in Ohio?

A:

Ohio statutes define marital and separate property. Marital property is property acquired during the marriage, including real estate, personal property, intangible property (such as stocks and bonds, bank accounts) and retirement plans, regardless of legal title.  Marital property is divided equitably between the parties, which is usually an equal division.

Separate property includes all real, personal and intangible property from an inheritance, property owned before the marriage, income or appreciation on separate property that did not come from a marital contribution of either party during the marriage, and gifts received after the marriage date if proved to be made to only one spouse.  Separate property is not divided between the parties.

Q:

I did not handle the finances in my marriage. How do I know I will get treated fairly in court?

A:

“Discovery” is the process you may use to obtain information in preparation for your pending divorce case. The Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure provide for a variety of methods of discovery. In addition, you and your spouse are required to complete affidavits providing certain information relative to your income, assets and liabilities. You can obtain information by (1) depositions; (2) interrogatories; (3) requests for production of documents; (4) requests for admissions; and (5) subpoenas.

Q:

My spouse cheated on me? How will this be handled by the Court?

A:

Adultery can be used as grounds for divorce. Adultery rarely has much of an impact on the distribution of assets, except in cases where one spouse has used marital assets to support the extra-marital relationship.  This is known as marital waste.  It could result in you receiving more than half of the marital property and your spouse receiving less.

Q:

What are grandparent rights in Ohio?

A:

In Ohio, grandparents can seek court-ordered visitation if the child's parents are unmarried, if the child's parents file for a divorce or dissolution, or if one of the child's parents has died. Once the grandparent files a motion with the court seeking visitation rights, the court must determine that the grandparent has an interest in the welfare of the child.  Ohio courts must consider a parent's wishes when deciding whether to award visitation, and the court must also consider whether grandparent visitation would be in the child's best interest.