Repercussions of Moving out of Your Marital Home

Once you or your spouse has decided to file for a divorce, living together may become uncomfortable. Regardless of the length of a marriage, it is difficult to adjust to sharing a home with a person who is no longer your legal spouse, especially if you are locked in a legal battle for assets or child custody. Leaving the marital home is often the choice one partner makes in order to keep the peace and avoid confrontations. While establishing a separate household gives you a way to get away from a spouse you can no longer tolerate, there are potential repercussions when you move out of your marital home before your divorce is complete.

Hurts Custody Requests

Ohio courts focus on making custody determinations that are in the best interest of the child.  Both parents can submit a parenting plan, and once the court reviews them, they can allocate time between both adults in the form of a shared parenting plan. However, if no parenting plan is submitted or either parent believes shared parenting is not in the best interest of their mutual children, the court may need to make a final determination. When the court is involved in deciding custody, a parent who has left the marital home, voluntarily reducing his or her own time spent with the children, will have a difficult time gain sole or primary custody.

Double the Expenses

Leaving your marital home does not automatically relieve you of financial obligations. If your name is on the mortgage, utility bills, or you were the primary income earner, you may still be responsible for paying expenses associated with your marital property. Moving out during your divorce could lead to you paying double the bills and, in some situations, you may have fewer financial resources available. Paying for a divorce attorney, bills in two households, temporary spousal support, and more can make you desperate to finalize the divorce even if the proposed settlement is not to your advantage.

Lose Access to Property

When an adult moves out of his or her marital home during a divorce, he or she rarely take all of his or her property. Unfortunately, once you leave the house, your spouse may take steps to restrict your future access to the property or dispose of items that are held jointly. It is possible to force your spouse into giving you access to a home that is owned jointly, and he or she can be held accountable for disposing of property without your permission, but both processes can be time consuming.  The last thing a person going through a contentious divorce wants to do is call the police to help regain entry to his or her home or realize too late that items with high monetary or sentimental value are permanently gone.

When to Contact an Attorney

If you or someone close to you is going through a divorce and considering moving out of a home shared with a spouse, it is important that legal advice is obtained prior to making a decision. The divorce attorneys at Lawrence Law Office are prepared to help you determine what choice is best for you and your unique situation. Contact us today to schedule a private consultation at our conveniently located Columbus, Ohio location.

Parental Rights and Responsibilities After Divorce

Are you considering a divorce, but unsure of the legal impact this action will have on your relationship with your child? Are you worried about losing your decision-making ability when it comes to issues regarding your child? Do you feel lost as you try to make sense of legalese related to parental rights and the responsibilities of divorced parents? The experienced legal team at the Lawrence Law Office can help you to maneuver through the challenge of a divorce, and all of the legal implications that it entails for you, the co-parent, and your child.

Parental Responsibilities in an Ohio Divorce

When a marriage dissolves, a family dissolves. Statistics show that many marriages end in divorce. In fact, the Huffington Post suggests that the divorce rate in Ohio was 9 per 1,000 population in 2013. In circumstances like these, who decides what school or church the child will attend? While both parents have a vested interest in the health and welfare of a child, Ohio’s laws regarding the best interests of the child take into consideration what both parents want for the child or children and may even ask the children about their wishes.  

Shared Parenting or Residential Parent

Chapter 3109 of Ohio laws and rules talks about how the courts should determine parental responsibility in these cases. Ohio courts like to do one of two things when it comes to splitting parental rights and responsibilities:

  • The court might decide to allocate the responsibilities of the child or children to a primary parent and designate that parent to be legal custodian, or “residential parent.” All other rights and responsibilities regarding the care of the children are divided between the two parents, including financial support and visitation.
  • The court may decide that it is best to allocate the parental rights and responsibilities of the child or children to both parents equally. This is called a “shared parenting” order (the equivalent of what other states call “joint custody.” Both parents are considered the “residential parents,” but they have to agree upon a court approved plan for the shared parenting situation and surrounding circumstances. This does not necessarily mean that time is split 50/50 between parents, but rather both parents have a say in the physical, financial, and legal care of the child or children.

Either way, the parents have to learn to work together for the best interest of the child or children.

How Does the Court Make its Determination?

The court has many considerations as it determines which parent will be allocated decision-making authority, all based on the best interests of the child. Besides the child’s wishes (depending on age and maturity), the court will examine issues of mental and physical health, the child’s needs, and transportation issues. Any relevant instances of violence, threats, or predatory behavior by either parent will also be considered. Finally, the level of cooperation and/or conflict between parents will impact any shared decision-making authority.

How Can I Better Understand Ohio’s Laws that Impact My Child?

Protecting you and your child during and after divorce is what we do best at the Lawrence Law Office. Contact our skilled Ohio family law attorneys today in Lawrence for competent help in understanding the Ohio laws regarding your rights and responsibilities in the event of a divorce involving a child.

How Joint Custody Parents Decide Where to Send Children to School or Church

If you and your co-parent share joint legal custody of your children in Ohio, you must decide which school your child will attend. If you and your co-parent agree what school your child should attend, you can simply enroll your child in the agreed-upon school without any involvement from family court. If you and your co-parent cannot agree on what school to enroll your child, however, you can try mediation, where you may be able to discuss and agree on a solution. If mediation does not help the two of you reach an agreement, you will have to consult with the courts.

School

Several cases have wrestled with the issue of which rights each co-parent has concerning where to send children to school. In Madison v. Davis, the California Supreme court addressed the rights of divorced parents when their child enters school. The Madison case involved the rights of the two divorced co-parents and their pre-school aged child.

The father in the case argued that under Beck v. Beck, the non-custodial parent has the right to make decisions regarding the child’s wellbeing. Meanwhile, the mother in the case argued that under Pascale v. Pascale, the parent of primary residence holds more authority in making decisions regarding the child. The Madison v. Davis case ultimately ruled that when pre-school is being used as daycare, the primary residential parent has the initial right to select a pre-school program. The parent, however, must make a “reasonable” choice that factors in considerations, such as location and cost.

While some parents might think that choosing where a child attends pre-school is a small issue, there is a strong possibility that the court will want to keep your child in the same location where he or she will eventually be attending kindergarten to maintain stability.

Church

There are multiple methods used to decide where to send your children to religious services. Courts often attempt to balance competing parental concerns about the child’s religious upbringing. While courts must protect an individual parent’s right to the free exercise of religion, courts must ultimately ensure that the best interests of the child are protected.

The Supreme Court has not yet articulated its opinion on religious upbringing and shared custody. With no uniform national law in place, states apply a variety of legal tests. The three most common tests applied by state courts are:

  • Whether restricting a parent’s religious practices will cause “actual or substantial” harm to the child,
  • If restricting a parent’s religious practices “might harm” the child in the future, and
  • If the custodial parent objects to the noncustodial parent’s religious activities.

When the parents of minor children divorce, custody of the children becomes a major issue.  Then, there are thousands of additional minute issues on which parents might disagree. That is why it is critical to have the assistance of an experienced family law attorney like the family law attorneys at the Lawrence Law Office. For a free consultation, please feel free to contact us today at (614) 228-3664.

New Administration Could Impact Family Law Proceedings

 

There is no question that as a new president took office, many things were promised to change and many have changed since the start of the new year. Some of those changes have had a greater impact than those in charge of the implementation may have anticipated. A few weeks after taking office, the new president signed an executive order titled Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, allowing people to be deported for a variety of reasons that previously were not allowed under President Obama’s administration. This executive order has sparked outrage across the nation, but has also seen a decent amount of support, even though research has shown that there have been lower levels of crime in the United States among immigrants than those people born in the United States.

The order aims to deport illegal immigrants residing in the United States who have committed a crime, attempted to commit a crime, or have conspired to commit a crime. Those crimes range from terrorism to engaging in fraudulent or willful misrepresentation to a government agency, to abuse of families, to espionage. Additionally, acts relating to driving under the influence of alcohol, public intoxication, and speeding may also result in deportation, although no conviction is required.

This new order has the potential to impact various sectors of law, not just criminal law. Family law proceedings have the potential to be widely interrupted as those individuals who are currently in divorce proceedings, domestic violence disputes, custody hearings, and support hearings may have to wait much longer than anticipated for a final decision to be rendered due to the legal status of their contesting partner.

This may be a tool that a vengeful spouse will use in order to get a settlement agreement out of a contesting partner by threatening deportation. Additionally, it may work to the advantage of some immigrants who have been trying to evade child support or spousal support hearings or decisions. Generally, support decisions will not be transferable between other countries, so if an foreign-born partner is deported, he or she may evade responsibility to child or spousal support through this process. Not only will the immigrant partner suffer from the inaccessibility to family members, but the child or spouse may also suffer by being deprived of his or her right to justice in the United States.

Struggling with a Custody, Divorce or Settlements?

Family law issues can be complicated, but when you add on the pressure of having a partner face deportation, you may feel like you are working against the clock. If you or someone you know has a family law issue that you need help resolving, we can help you get the results you deserve. Do not hesitate to call the legal team at Lawrence Law Office today at (614) 228 – 3664 for a consultation, or email us using our website or lawrence@lawrencelawoffice.com.

Grandparents’ Visitation Rights

Grandparents can play a very important role in a child’s development. Today, many parents still rely on their parents to help raise their children or to delegate some caretaking responsibility, in order to maintain full time employment and to maintain prior commitments. When a divorce proceeding begins, many couples begin to reassess who will be caring for the child, when, where and how often. Sometimes, unfortunately, a grandparent who played a critical part of the child’s life up until that point may have his or her time taken away or reduced due to custody battles. However, grandparents should know that they also have rights to see their grandchildren when a divorce occurs.

Grandparents’ Visitation Rights in Ohio

Visitation rights vary state to state, but in Ohio, grandparents have a right to file for visitation if they have an interest in the welfare of the child and it is in the child’s best interests to maintain this relationship. Grandparents can file a Motion for Visitation in divorce proceedings while the divorce decree is being entered or even after the divorce is granted to include grandparents in the custody and visitation proceedings.

Under state statute, visitation rights will be granted in a limited number of situations. The law grants visitation rights if the parents terminate their marriage or legally separate, if the parent of a child in question is deceased, and also when the child is born to parents who are not married. Additionally, the court will still assess whether this is in the child’s best interests. Courts will also weigh the parents wishes when determining whether the award for visitation is appropriate.

Visitation rights for grandparents, just like parents, can be terminated or amended by the court under certain terms. If one parent of the child can show the court that there has been a change of circumstances, affecting the best interests of the child, it will impact the previously granted visitation orders for the child. Remarriage of the parent will not affect the parenting time and visitation rights granted to a grandparent by the court. Courts are generally understanding about a grandparent’s desire to continue being part of a grandchild’s life, especially when the relationship is previously established.

Entitled to Visitation Rights?

If you or someone you know is considering filing for visitation rights, call the experienced legal team at Lawrence Law Office today at (614) 228 – 3664 for a consultation or email us using our website or lawrence@lawrencelawoffice.com.

Child Custody for Working Moms

Child custody is no longer automatic for working moms.

According to the Huffington Post, working moms, especially those who out-earn their spouses, must now fight for custody of their children. Since as many as 30 percent of wives earn more money than their husbands, the problem of assigning child custody is growing.

Many years ago, custody was simple: since mothers stayed home and conducted the majority of parenting tasks, they retained custody. Later, when women found workforce equality, they were faced with 50/50 custody arrangements after divorce. More recently, psychologists have questioned whether 50/50 arrangements are beneficial for children and have suggested that the courts assign a primary caregiver. The result is that moms who spend more time working outside the home than dads may face the devastation of ‘losing their children.’

Several strategies may help working moms retain custody. According to the article, since judges must make quick decisions based on empirical evidence, it is best to reach an agreement without going to court. To this end, moms should try to envision dads as part of the parenting team rather than an adversary. Another helpful tip for working moms is to adjust their work hours prior to the divorce and be visible to outsiders as a primary caregiver. For example, working moms should attend parent-teacher conferences and take the kids to their lessons and practices. A journal that documents child- and home-related activities can be very helpful.

Child custody disputes may be the most emotionally taxing component of divorce. However, mediation may be effective in keeping the custody negotiations out of the courtroom. A family law attorney can be beneficial to working moms throughout this stressful time.

Determining Child Custody in Ohio

Child custody is often one of the most contentious aspects of any divorce proceeding. When both parents want custody of the children and cannot reach a compromise, the court will issue a child custody order to settle the matter.

Like most states, Ohio bases child custody decisions on the “best interests of the child.” There is no presumption that the mother (or the father, for that matter) will get primary custody.

Instead, the court bases its decision on the child’s overall “best interests,” as guided by the following factors:

  • The individual wishes of the child’s parents
  • The child’s own wishes and concerns, if the judge feels the child is mature enough to form a well-reasoned decision regarding custody
  • The child’s relationship with his or her parents, siblings and other important people
  • How well the child has adjusted to his or her school, home and community
  • The mental and physical health of all persons involved in the custody arrangement
  • Whether either parent is more likely to honor the court-approved visitation or parenting time rights awarded to the other parent
  • Whether either parent has failed to meet child support obligations
  • Whether there is any history of child abuse in the family
  • Whether one parent has denied the parenting rights of the other parent
  • Whether either parent has established, or is planning to establish, a residency outside of the state of Ohio

In some cases, the court will make a determination that shared parenting is in the best interests of the child. In doing so, it will look toward the following factors:

  • The ability of the parents to cooperate and make decisions jointly
  • Each parent’s ability to encourage the child to love and have contact with the other parent
  • Any history of domestic abuse, child abuse or parental kidnapping
  • Whether the parents have sufficient geographic proximity to facilitate shared parenting
  • The recommendation of the child’s guardian ad litem, if the child has a guardian ad litem

The above factors serve as a guide, but court’s ultimate decision will be based on the unique elements of each individual case.

Child custody hearings can be a stressful process, but by understanding the guidelines, you can be better prepared to present your case.

Returning Child at the End of the Summer

Often, the parent that has the child during the summer learns information from the child that causes the parent to be concerned about returning the child to the school placement parent for the beginning of the school year.

If you find yourself in this situation, I recommend that you document the facts and the circumstances that are creating your concern. Secondly, I recommend contacting an attorney immediately to determine your options to file an emergency motion or at a minimum a motion for modification of your parental rights and responsibilities.

As you may already be aware, the courts process motions very slowly. If you have grave concerns about your child returning to the other parent for the beginning of the school year, emergency motions must be filed as soon as possible. If you do not return the child at the appointed day and time, in violation of the court order, a contempt motion may be filed against you and the police may be called to enforce the current order.

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