Divorce, Dissolution and Custody FAQs

Can one attorney represent both my spouse and I in our divorce?

No. In most divorces, there are just too many conflicts for both spouses to have the same legal counsel. 

What are the requirements to file for divorce in Ohio?

To file for divorce in Ohio, you must be legally married, and you must have lived in the state for at least six months. For a no-fault dissolution, you can file if either you or your spouse has lived in Ohio for at least six months. 

How are assets and debts split in a divorce?

In Ohio, divorcing spouses’ marital property is most commonly divided according to the rules of equitable distribution. To note, equitable does not necessarily mean equal. Certain circumstances, such as significant losses due to gambling or spending marital funds on an affair may warrant an equitable, but not strictly equal, distribution of marital property. 

What is the difference between “marital” and “separate” property?

Generally speaking, marital property includes any asset that either spouse acquires during the marriage. However, there are several important exceptions, including but not limited to gifts and inheritances received by a single spouse. Any assets that are not marital property will be considered separate, or non-marital property. In addition to gifts and inheritances, some typical examples of separate property include assets acquired prior to the marriage, income from separate assets (such as investment proceeds), and any property designated as separate in a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement. 

How is alimony (spousal support) determined?

Alimony is determined based on a list of factors determined by Ohio law that include the length of the marriage, the spouses’ respective incomes, earning potential, and standards of living, etc. Unlike child support, there are no set guidelines for calculating alimony.

How is child support determined?

In Ohio, with limited exceptions, child support payments are calculated according to strict guidelines established by the state legislature. There are standard worksheets and schedules that parents are required to use in order to determine their child support rights and obligations. Child support can be deviated depending on the financial situation of the parties and other factors based on Ohio law. 

What is the difference between custody and parenting time?

In general, “custody” refers to the legal right to either make important decisions or to provide a permanent living environment for your child. “Parenting time” refers to spending time with your child. Parenting time may either be supervised or unsupervised depending on the circumstances and is an important component of most successful parenting plans. 

What factors come into play when determining parents’ custody rights in a divorce?

When evaluating the best interest of the child for purposes of determining custody rights, the Ohio courts will weigh factors such as: the parents’ wishes, the child’s relationships with siblings and others, the child’s adjustment to his or her current school and home, whether either parent plans to move out of state, and the parents’ ability to cooperate in making important decisions regarding the child. 

Can you modify the terms of your divorce? (I.e., custody, child support, or alimony)

Yes. With court approval, it is possible to modify the terms of your divorce. Child support obligation can also be modified through an administrative review by the Ohio Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA). 

Can I get a divorce through family law mediation?

A mediator cannot grant you a divorce through mediation. You must still file for divorce and appear in court to receive final divorce orders. However, you and your spouse may absolutely come to an agreement on your divorce issues and terms through mediation, which most often the court prefers. You may seek a non-contested divorce or a dissolution if you and your spouse settle all divorce issues on your own, which will proceed much more quickly than a contested divorce. 

Do Grandparents have rights to visitation?

Sometimes. Ohio law allows grandparents to petitioner for visitation in limited circumstances, such as when the child’s parents are unmarried, or the parents have filed for divorce or legal separation. A court will not automatically grant visitation but will decide if grandparent visitation is in the grandchild’s best interest.

Do I need to establish paternity in order to seek custody in a Divorce?

No, not if your children were born during your marriage. Under Ohio law, a husband is presumed to be the father of any children born to his wife during the couple’s marriage. However, if the children were born prior to the marriage and you have not formally established paternity, it is possible that you will need to undergo DNA testing in order to seek custody in your divorce. 

What is an Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit?

An Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit is a form that unmarried parents can use to establish a father’s paternity. Once both parents sign the form, the man who signs will become legally recognized as the child’s biological father. Completing this form will allow the father’s name to be recorded on the child’s birth certificate; and, as long as a different father has not previously been listed on the birth certificate, the parents can also change the child’s last name. You can obtain this form through your local health department or a Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA). 

What is the difference between Shared Parenting (Joint Custody) and Sole Custody in Ohio?

If one parent has sole custody, both parents can still obtain medical records, child care and school records and attend extracurricular activities of the children. The sole custodian makes the decisions regarding the medical, education, religion and extracurricular activities of the minor children. Shared Parenting, however, does not mean equal parenting time with the minor children. Parents agree to cooperate in making decisions regarding medical, education, religion and extracurricular activities. One party may have the final decision making authority. The court must find that the shared parenting plan is in the best interests of the minor children by considering the factors in Ohio Revised Code Section 3109.04(F)(2).

What is the difference between a divorce and a dissolution?

For the court to grant a dissolution, both parties must agree on every aspect of the dissolution of their marriage. This includes their real and personal property, assets, debts and parenting. If the parties cannot agree, divorce may be the better option.

Adoption FAQs

What are the types of adoption?

A child or adult can be adopted by a step parent, privately, meaning no agency is involved, through a private agency, or through a public agency. These adoptions can be between counties in Ohio, states in the US or international.

Do I need to hire an attorney in order to adopt in Ohio?

Under Ohio law, in order to adopt a minor, you must hire an attorney to arrange the adoption.

Can I hire an attorney to represent me and the child’s biological parent?

No. Ohio law prohibits attorneys from representing both the adoptive and biological parents during an adoption.

Does Ohio allow open adoptions?

An open adoption is a form of adoption in which the biological parents participate in the process of placing the child with an adoptive family and are legally permitted to continue to have contact with the adoptive child and family after the adoption is final. Ohio law does NOT recognize open adoptions and will not enforce any agreement between the biological and adoptive parents to keep the adoption “open.” Under Ohio law, adoptive parents have final decision-making capabilities (as if the child was biologically born to them) as to whether the biological parents have contact with the child.

General Litigation FAQs

How long will my case take?

The length of a case depends on several factors. The Ohio Supreme Court issues timing guidelines for Judges and Magistrates to adhere to regarding the length of cases. However, there are several reasons why cases end before these guidelines are reached or extend beyond these time limits.

How much will this cost?

Litigation is not cheap. The cost of your case will depend on the complexity of the case, willingness of the parties to reach an agreement, use of possible experts and GAL, and length of the case. Every case is unique. Included in litigation expenses are attorneys fees, filing fees, depositions, GAL fees, etc. 


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