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.

Preserving Your Grandparent Visitation Rights

When a couple with children decides to divorce, they often focus on the affects the dissolution will have on their relationships with their children. The rights of the grandparents are often overlooked or disregarded even though keeping the children from their extended family is painful for everyone involved. In the past, a grandparent’s ability to see the grandchildren was dependent upon the wishes of the custodial parent and the visitation schedule awarded to the non-custodial parent. Fortunately, the Ohio Supreme Court decided that third-party visitation statutes were constitutional and now grants visitation rights to grandparents. Though the law is straightforward, you may need to take steps to preserve your grandparent visitation rights.

Best Interest of the Child

One of the least pleasant aspects of a separation or divorce are the battles over custody in which parents often find themselves. Parents who are unable to agree over primary custody, child support, or other major issues may find themselves spending months, or years, fighting for a resolution. During this period of time, a child who was previously close to his or her grandparents may be unable to even speak to those grandparents. Separating a child from a grandparent who has been a major influence in  his or her life is painful and distressing.  However, family court does take the best interest of the child into account and is willing to recognize the fact that in some cases preventing a child from communicating with a grandparent can cause harm.

When is Visitation Granted

Once Ohio began authorizing grandparent visitation right,s the court decided that there are three circumstances under which a rights of access should be considered. These three circumstances are:

  • When married parents separate or dissolve their marriage;
  • When a child is born to an unmarried woman;
  • When one of the child’s parents is deceased.

The motion requesting visitation rights may be filed when divorce or other proceedings are still pending. In situations in which the child’s mother is unmarried and paternal grandparents want visitation rights, the father must first acknowledge the child or be found to be the child’s father through a parentage action. Regardless of the circumstances, the court must ultimately determine if visitation is in the child’s best interest.

Avoiding Disputes

Even though the situation preceding the separation of the parents may have been complicated and contentious, grandparent visitation rights do not have to be. It is possible for grandparents to receive visitation with their grandchild before the divorce is finalized or a custody order is in place. The best way to receive the visitation desired is to avoid disputes that could threaten a grandparent’s rights. Contacting a family law attorney with experience obtaining grandparent visitation rights without going to trial is a good way to initiate proceedings that will be resolved quickly.

Lawrence Law Office

If you or someone you know wants to pursue grandparent visitation rights, contact our conveniently located Columbus, Ohio location. Our grandparent visitation attorneys are committed to helping grandparents preserve their relationships with their grandchildren.  Through the use of mediators, we help parties come to a speedy resolution that is truly in the best interest of the child.

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.

Avoid Sabotaging Your Chances for Custody

Separating from a domestic partner or spouse is usually a painful process, and most adults want to get through it as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, when children are involved, the separation process can be more prolonged and contentious. Both parties often hope for custody of their child for emotional, personal, and (in some cases) financial reasons. Throughout a custody battle, both parents are scrutinized by the court since a judge or neutral mediator are primarily interested in what placement would be in the child’s best interest. During your fight for custody, it is important to avoid sabotaging your custody chances, as any mistake on your part may be used against you by your ex-spouse’s attorney or viewed negatively by a judge. The following are examples of ways that you could accidentally sabotage your case.

Criticizing the Spouse Publicly

After a divorce or separation, being able to openly discuss the faults of your former spouse is often exhilarating. Talking about his or her bad habits or the problems he or she caused during your marriage is part of the healing process and is sometimes used as a coping mechanism when a person is having second thoughts about ending the relationship. However, there is a difference between venting privately with a friend and publicly criticizing your former spouse. Avoid posting things on social media, in emails, or other formats that could be publicized and seen by your children. Disparaging comments that are made on social media might be used against you if the other parent accuses you of attempting to alienate him or her from mutual children.

Taking the Children Out of the Area Without Telling the Other Parent

Every parent dreams of being able to surprise his or her children with vacations to Disney World or other popular destinations. Though you may avoid telling your spouse about vacation plans solely to keep the trip a surprise, when you are going through a divorce that involves a custody dispute, it is not a good idea to indulge in unannounced trips. Leaving the state without talking to the other parent first may be construed as an attempt to kidnap the children. Going out of town with children without obtaining the permission of the other parent could cost you the ability to have parenting time while the custody case is still pending.

Being Unrealistic

Custody and parenting time decisions are not about you, they are able the children and what will ultimately be best for them. Making demands that are unrealistic decreases your chances of getting custody or the visitation schedule of your choice. Parents who have many commitments that routinely keep them away from children’s extracurricular activities may have a difficult time proving to a judge that they can truly handle being full-time single parents. Take your schedule into consideration, focus on the needs of the children, and be realistic when asking for custody.  If you do have a busy work schedule, be prepared to explain child care plans, how your child feels about the arrangement you propose, and be willing to accept the suggestions of the court.

Lawrence Law Office

Going through a divorce that involves determining the custody of a minor child is difficult and often stressful. The assistance of a qualified attorney can help you preserve your parental rights and make sure the final agreement is in the best interest of your child. The child custody attorneys at Lawrence Law Office are able to help you during this time by providing you with the representation you deserve. You can contact their conveniently located Columbus, Ohio office at 614-228-3664 today to schedule a consultation.

How Smoking Affects Custody

Anti-smoking campaigns have become a fixture in today’s society. We see them when we watch TV, when we take the bus, and even in the very stores that sell cigarettes. The health risks of smoking are well known, and we try to discourage people from starting and encourage those already smoking to quit. Recently, even the courts have joined this battle, using smoking as a factor in determining child custody.

Smoking and Custody Cases

The most important thing to know about custody is that the best interest of the child is the main factor the courts will consider. The courts will analyze the situation from many angles, but they will always keep that in mind. For example, each parent will be considered, and if one smokes around the child, this could hurt his or her chances of receiving custody. In some recent cases, in fact, the custodial parent has lost custody to a nonsmoking parent, as being in a home or car filled with secondhand smoke is dangerous for children. Sometimes it is not just the parent that is considered; if a close friend or relative who smokes frequently visits, that may be enough to put the child in danger.

Just because one parent smokes, however, does not mean that he or she will definitely lose custody. For example, if a parent stops smoking 48 hours prior to his or her time with the child, this may allow him or her to maintain partial custody. On the other hand, bringing up the fact that the other parent smokes may not help your case; it might even hurt you. This goes back to the best interest of the child, and whether your attack on the other spouse is an attempt to keep your child safe or to get sole custody. Overall, though, it is clear that smoking has become an important consideration when it comes to determining custody. Quitting is an option for those who do not wish to have this factor even come into play, but it may look suspicious to quit immediately after you have been accused of smoking. Courts have been looking more favorably on those who quit before the custody battle begins, as that tends to show a true desire to quit rather that quitting as a manipulation tool.

Hospitals are Joining the Movement

The effects of smoking on children are shocking. Over 6,000 children die every year because of their parents’ smoking habits, and many more with conditions like asthma or allergies become very ill. Because of this, hospitals are taking on more responsibility when it comes to educating people about the dangers of smoking. Smoking is now considered child abuse in some states and hospital employees are required to report cases they come across. So, if your child ends up in the hospital after an asthma attack caused by your smoking, this could negatively affect your chances at custody in court.

These new trends have the potential to affect many parents who are fighting for custody for their children. If you or someone you know is fighting for custody of your children, we want to hear from you today. Do not hesitate to call the legal team at Lawrence Law Office at (614) 228 – 3664 for a consultation or email us using our website or lawrence@lawrencelawoffice.com.

Child Neglect Case Leads to New Opioid Regulations in Ohio

Ohio is known for a number of things, but being a state with a major heroin and drug epidemic is not one that Governor Kasich is willing to put up with any longer. In 2016, statistics showed how bad the problem had gotten when it was reported that one in nine deaths from heroin overdoses comes from Ohio and one in 14 deaths from synthetic opioid overdoses comes from Ohio.

Heroin Overdoses Continue to Rise

Ohio has made national news on a number of occasions this year due to their rising number of heroin overdoses. In March, there have been three notable cases of parents overdosing while in the presence of their children. One couple was found, the dad passed out in the car with a young baby, while the mom was discovered unconscious at home watching their four children. Four other children were also forced to contact police when they discovered both of their parents dead one morning from an overdose. Lastly, a 9-year-old girl called her grandmother as well as police when she realized her parents were not responding to her while in the car, as they had overdosed on heroin. Police were able to save the couple, however, they are now facing charges of child endangerment.

What Next?

In response to this epidemic, the governor of Ohio has moved forward with a plan to strengthen the regulations on prescription pain medication in the state, with the support of the Ohio Board of Pharmacy, the State Medical Board, and the Dental and Nursing Boards. Now, doctors will have to provide a specific diagnosis for painkiller prescriptions written with a certain procedure code that will be reviewed. Additionally, they can only give prescriptions for up to seven days for adults and only five days for minors, absent exigent circumstances.

There will be some circumstances in which an individual can obtain a longer prescription time, but those are strictly limited to cancer patients who require them for pain management, as well as dying patients who are in hospice care. Ohio’s new law mirrors that of New Jersey’s recent regulation of the same opioid addiction issue.

Child Custody Issue?

Children do not deserve to be subjected to parenting under the influence of drugs and alcohol. If you or someone you know is fighting for custody of their child with a drug-abusing partner, we will help get your child into a safe and supportive family environment. 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.

IVF, Multiple Parents, and Custody Issues

There are women all over the world who are not able to naturally conceive children. These women have traditionally been told that they do not have many options outside of adoption, that is, until the development of IVF, or in-vitro fertilization. In-vitro fertilization is a medical procedure that fertilizes an egg in a test tube prior to implanting it in a uterus, which drastically increases the likelihood of a woman bearing one or multiple children. Since then, further technological advances have been made in IVF treatment to now include three parents.

Three-parent in-vitro fertilization involves a range of techniques that are utilized by couples who seek to lower their potential child’s risk of genetic mitochondrial disease. Mitochondrial diseases take the lives of many children who are not able to sustain their heart beat. The use of additional DNA from another donor helps lower or potentially eliminate the genetic disease. The Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority in the United Kingdom has made the historic decision to legalize three-person IVF in order to help potential parents eliminate the risk of disease while being able to have their own biological children.

There are complications, however, when there are three genetic parents involved in IVF. Critics warn that this could lead to an increase in the desire to produce designer babies, letting parents pick and choose the features of their children. Currently, the license to utilize the practice is only available to those who pose a very high risk of passing mitochondrial disease to their children. The UK is not the only country to see babies born as the result of three-person IVF. A Puerto Rican couple from New York had the procedure performed in Mexico last year, and a Ukrainian couple gave birth this year as a result of three-person IVF.

Issues of legality arise concerning the technique used as well as the discarding of embryos that are not viable. Additionally, while those who seek to utilize the procedure will have to go through a rigorous background check process and genetic testing, as the procedure becomes more common in other countries, issues concerning custody rights may begin to arise. Currently, disparities exist between countries regarding their legalization, which will also influence many families and their situations. As this practice becomes more commonplace, ensuring that papers are properly filed as to child custody is essential to avoiding a legal battle.

Child Custody Issues?

If you or someone you know is experiencing difficulties enforcing child custody order or obtaining what they believe is proper child custody, 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.

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.

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