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Dayton Divorce Law Blog

Preparing for divorce can have an ongoing beneficial impact

For Ohio residents entering into the sometimes difficult divorce process there are certain steps to initially take that could ease the burden considerably as the case progresses. The first thing is to collect all paperwork regarding assets and finances that are available. It is recommended that several years of documents be collected to give one's divorce lawyer an in-depth picture of the total situation.

These items can include tax returns, deeds, mortgages, payroll records, bank records, investment accounts, certificates of deposit, retirement accounts, contracts, leases, any business interests and essentially anything that shows one's financial status. It may be that some of these are jointly owned with the other spouse, and it is fair enough for both parties to cooperate in making and sharing copies so that each will be able to go to their respective attorneys with a full package to discuss. It is essential to move the case along that a comprehensive set of financial records be accumulated upfront and provided early to counsel.

Noncustodial parent must pay recommended child support amount

When two people in a divorce action have minor children, the complexity and focus of the case takes on an extra dimension of seriousness. The focus must always be on what is in the best interest of the children. Generally, child custody determinations in Ohio will dictate which parent pays child support for the children.

There are generally two kinds of child custody: physical custody and legal custody. Despite a gradual trend toward shared physical and legal custody, courts often order that one parent shall have primary physical custody, which means that the parent shall primarily have the children most of the time, with of course visitation rights to the other parent. Even though the court awards primary physical custody to one parent, it can order that legal custody be equally shared.

Parents give up child custody when vital services not affordable

When parents in Ohio are abusive or neglectful, the state may step in and child protective services may assert custody, at least for a temporary period. However, the system of health care services in general today is so deficient that many parents cannot get health care for children with serious health problems. When the health problem is debilitating and the parents cannot care for the child, some of them today are turning child custody over to child protective services.

This happened with a family that had a severely autistic child. The health insurance company that insured the family refused to cover the $100,000 per year for residential autism care. However, when the child reached 14, the safety of the family became problematic. Consequently, the mother made a decision to turn her son over to child protective services.

Divorce puts a tight clamp on social media communications

"Better safe than sorry" is a saying that is overused and clichéd; that does not mean, however, that it should be ignored. When it comes to divorce proceedings, whether here in Ohio or elsewhere, one should be safe by staying away from virtually all social media communications. Expressing opinions and facts on these public sites can make a person quite sorry with the resulting impact.

Today, a given fact that applies to divorce and other legal proceedings is that attorneys, officials and others will almost automatically check to see what a litigant is talking about on his or her social media pages. With respect to divorce proceedings, a person's statements on social media can be used against the person in court proceedings respecting alimony, support, child custody, asset division and other issues. It is best to always remember that email and text messages are generally admissible as evidence.

People facing divorce in Ohio can assist their attorneys

The process of ending a marriage can be painful and frustrating. Many want them to end quickly with the results in their favor. After hiring lawyers for divorce, some may think they can simply sit back and let things happen. However, people in Ohio who work closely with their attorneys usually get the best results.

Divorces each have a unique dynamic, and the parties involved are the ones who know each other best. Clients who advise their lawyers about the opponents with whom they are dealing may give the attorneys some insight into the best way to deal with their spouses. They may also summarize the history of the marriages so their attorneys have written resources to refer to before meeting with the other parties. In most cases, it is well advised that clients keep their priorities in mind and not derail proceedings by refusing to compromise.

After divorce in Ohio, there is much to consider about remarriage

Over the last 10 years, the Census Bureau has noticed a dramatic increase in couples over the age of 65 living together instead of getting married. It seems that many of these couples have been previously married. Statistically, the chances of a second or third marriage ending in divorce increases exponentially. However, older couples in Ohio who are thinking about remarriage may be considering more than the statistics when they opt to stay single.

One thing people over 60 may bear in mind is the loss of benefits from a previous spouse. Those who collect pensions or Social Security benefits through a deceased spouse may forfeit those funds if they remarry. Additionally, someone collecting alimony from a previous spouse may lose that maintenance check after remarrying or, in some cases, moving in with someone.

Be fully advised prior to dividing assets in divorce

When a husband and wife begin to discuss the mutual desire for a divorce, one or both spouses may express opinions about who is legally entitled to the various marital or separate assets. One should take any advice from the other spouse with a grain of salt, and at the same time, it is best to resist from adding one's own unsupported opinions. For example, a spouse may tell the other that because the house is owned solely in that spouse's name that the other spouse has no legal right to claim anything. However, the law of divorce in Ohio does not say that, and an accurate statement can only be obtained from a family law lawyer during a thorough domestic relations consultation.

Another asset commonly misunderstood is the 401(k) plan that one of the spouses builds up through payroll deductions. This is not usually a separate asset of the contributing spouse. In fact, the account is considered marital property for purposes of property division. Because these funds are within the jurisdiction of the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), there is a specific protocol to be followed in splitting the funds during a divorce settlement.

Divorce settlements are not easily challenged once finalized

After a settlement is finalized and court-approved in a high asset divorce in Ohio or any other jurisdiction, a former spouse who later becomes dissatisfied with its terms cannot generally prevail in trying to get a rescission of the agreement. The courts will not easily entertain serious prospects of revisiting a settlement, even with the dissatisfied spouse raising fraud issues. In fact, as a general rule, the only issue that may invalidate an executed settlement would be based on the introduction of substantial evidence that the spouse withheld information or lied about the size of the estate during the original divorce proceedings.

In one case involving Steven Cohen, a billionaire hedge-fund capitalist, his former wife, Patricia, filed a lawsuit in 2009 asking for one-half of the sum of $5.5 million, plus interest, that he allegedly hid during their 1990 divorce settlement. A federal judge recently dismissed the case for lack of proof. The court also reasoned that the plaintiff had signed the divorce agreement, including terms making it clear that she would not know the full extent of her husband's assets.

Shared child custody requires mature parental attitudes

Ohio child custody is primarily based on what is in the best interest of the children. The statute sets forth several factors that go to determining which parent should have primary physical and legal custody. Joint custody or a shared custody plan may also be entered into, but that type of arrangement is probably best reserved for situations where both parents agree that shared child custody is best for the children.

Shared custody does not necessarily mean an equal division of time, but rather that the parents will share responsibility for the care and upbringing of the children. They will have an equal share in all of the important decisions that are made during the minor's life with respect to health, education and the like. The courts in Ohio and elsewhere look to the ability of the parents to communicate with each other and maintain an ongoing mature relationship focused on the good of the children.

Birdnesting is a new model of parenting after a divorce

The latest experiment coming out of modern divorces is the improbable practice called "birdnesting." It has been tried around the country, likely also in Ohio. Rather than having the children travel back and forth from mother's house to dad's house, and vice versa, the children stay in the family home after the divorce; it is the parents who will come and go. Part of the week, mother will live there with the children. The rest of the week, father will move in.

This is a great modification for the children, who don't have to experience the deep traumas of separation that normally occur after a divorce. When they don't leave the marital property and they have both parents on hand during the week, even though at separate times, the children generally don't go through the deep scarring experiences that are typically common. It is an ingenious innovation in that sense, but it also may be reserved only to the wealthier couples who can afford the extra expenses.