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Dayton Divorce Law Blog

Family dog risks arbitrary treatment in divorce court

One phenomenon in Ohio and elsewhere is the importance of the family dog or dogs in the settlement agreement. When a married couple are both attached to the family dog, it can be difficult for them to agree on who gets the pet. To make matters worse, if the separation is particularly emotional, the parties may use the dog as a bargaining chip or a pawn against each other, much in the same way as some people use their children in an indefensible manner during a divorce.

The law offers little comfort in such matters because it essentially views dogs and other pets as property that is worth very little. The law has not yet evolved to recognize that such animals can be a person's most prized possession. For many people, a traditional market value analysis can never be accurate in measuring the intrinsic worth of the animal to its caretakers.

Divorce settlement must divide retirement funds carefully

A recent court case illustrates a potential problem that one of the spouses in a divorce settlement may encounter when a retirement account is agreed to be split as part of the divorce agreement. Where the nonparticipant spouse dies prior to the distribution of the retirement account, the percentage share of the deceased spouse may revert back to the participating spouse, restoring his or her 100 percent ownership share. Most retirement fund distributions in a divorce settlement in Ohio and elsewhere are regulated by a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO).

In the recent court case, the judge awarded the whole fund to the husband, who had a pension fund through a national union. As part of an earlier divorce settlement, a QDRO assigned 50 percent of the fund to the wife, but it did not address the issue of what would happen if she died first and before the distributions were initiated. She passed away several years after the divorce and after the date of signing the QDRO, but while the husband was still working and not receiving payments.

Fairness sets final divorce deal between Stefani and Rossdale

Celebrity divorces are sometimes instructive in supporting the general principles that motivate and define asset division in such matters throughout the country, including in Ohio. What takes place on a grander scale between two married celebrities is often a mirror image of a typical divorce between couples with far less riches to divide. A recent example is the Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale settlement.

For starters, in keeping with the modern trend and best path for the best interests of the children, the parties will do a 50/50 sharing arrangement for child custody. That indicates a good attitude by both parents at this end stage of the process, and it bodes well for the three minor children who will greatly benefit from not having to take in the ravages of a rancorous post-divorce situation. The equal split also appears to be the justification for no child support payments by either party to the other.

Extended child custody battle lands mother in criminal court

Ohio has its fair share of drawn-out conflicts dealing with legal custody of minor children. It is never welcomed to see a bitter and desperate battle by two parents over the subject of child custody and visitation. However, some cases are distinguished by clearly going over the line of legal propriety and acceptable morality. Thus, when a parent plots to hide the children for what is perceived to be their own good, the illegalities and psychic damage to them becomes an overriding concern.

That general child custody scenario is ongoing in another state between two parents, with the children sitting and suffering in the middle of it all. The mother of five children is accusing the father of years of emotional and physical abuse of her and the children. Court-appointed professionals, however, have interviewed the woman and concluded  that she is guilty of carrying out a pattern of parental alienation, which essentially involves manipulating the children to fear their father. After custody was temporarily transferred to another relative based on the findings against the mother, the two oldest daughters disappeared.

A long and delayed divorce may be harmful to minor children

When the interests of the minor children are solely considered, a long and intense divorce fight is likely to be a negative factor in their healthy transition into a new life. Their future post-divorce life will become a decided mystery to children who must sit through many months or even years of uncertainty during a prolonged and unclear divorce process. Many changes can occur during that tentative phase while a rancorous divorce is playing out in the family law corridors of the Ohio courts.

Some of those changes can be emotionally damaging for the children. A decisive and timely divorce is usually preferable to the children. Where strong co-parenting is executed as soon as the separation occurs, accompanied by wise counseling and assurances of continuing security and love, the transition is likely to be more successful, especially if it does not drag on incessantly.  It is common sense that children may react to mysterious delays and changes of attitude with insecure mental responses.

Child protection agency may ask for a change in legal custody

Some of the most difficult and complex child custody cases involve disputes between one or both parents and the local child protective services agency. In Ohio, the public children services agencies (PCSAs) are basically county offices under state control that are charged with the responsibility of protecting children from abuse or neglect. The emotional nature of such cases, however, often interjects highly contested factual allegations that may be difficult to resolve or even to adjudicate effectively. In essence, an agency will attempt to intercept the legal custody of the offending parent or parents when abuse or neglect is suspected.

The organizational structure and procedure in Ohio is similar to that of other states with respect to the operation of the child protective services agencies. When a complaint is received by the agency, a social worker on staff will go to the residence and interview the parents and the children, along with any other residents or key witnesses. If the case started with a report from a local hospital, the medical records will be obtained and doctors interviewed as necessary.

Men also express their feelings about going through a divorce

There are many blogs and articles in Ohio and nationally regarding a woman's challenges during and after divorce. However, the point of view of the male partner is seldom expressed. There are some repeated themes and lessons that men of divorce expressed in interviews. These are some points that they offered up to assist those who now face the same transition.

Undoubtedly, divorced men felt the pain of separation and divorce as a major devastation in life. They recommend that men call their male friends and use them for companionship and talking things out. They also showed a surprising sensitivity to acting prematurely in the heat of one's emotions, both during and after divorce proceedings.

Contested divorce sees most issues under vigorous dispute

A married couple can go into court in Ohio with their divorce matters settled in advance or they may have no issues of contention that need to be settled. In some cases, the matter is a bare-bones divorce where there are no minor children and no conceivable issues of property division, alimony, support or other reasons for the parties to be disputing the matter. Those cases fit into the broad category of divorce filings that can be called uncontested.

Where there is an issue of support, alimony, property division, child custody or visitation that holds up the granting of a final decree in divorce, it may be said that the divorce is contested. However, being contested does not indicate a level of antipathy or conflict that may permeate the parties' actions and delay the resolution for years. In some instances, the parties are ready to quickly resolve the few unsettled matters that may be holding up the processing of the divorce.

Domestic violence cited in change of legal custody

Although there may be a child custody order in effect that defines custody and visitation rights, it can be modified in Ohio and other jurisdictions by the court when there is a material change in circumstances. Usually, the parent who wants the order changed will file a petition for modification and state why legal custody should be changed. The court then schedules a hearing to take testimony and receive evidence prior to a decision being made.

The court hearing may be unnecessary if both parents agree to the modification. A change in legal custody was highlighted recently in the personal life of Fox News host Bill O'Reilly. Last year a family law court had taken sole residential custody of his two teenage children away from him and placed it with the mother.

Divorce strategy for asset division can provide crucial benefits

One of the traditional mantras favoring the institution of marriage has always been that two can live cheaper than one. That may be true in many cases, but when a couple is facing a divorce, the adage breaks down and its benefits are lost. After a divorce in Ohio and elsewhere, each divorced former spouse will generally find it more difficult financially due to losing the benefit of their pooled incomes and other financial limitations.

That makes it all the more important that a person who is in a divorce negotiation make sure that he or she obtain the best division of assets that may be obtainable to benefit his or her situation. When reviewing and negotiating the preference of asset division, remember that liquidity counts. When considering liquidity needs, one should make sure that the proposed division of assets will provide enough cash flow on which to survive.