Getting Through Divorce Negotiations Without a Fight

In spite of promises to work together and place your own needs aside for the sake of your children, it is not unusual for an uncontested divorce to quickly become contested and downright hostile. Once a couple finds themselves unable to agree on one or more major issues, they must begin negotiating with the help of their attorneys, mediators, and in some cases the judge. Since a family court judge is not always willing to listen to what each side feels is important, letting a dispute go on for too long can lead to the judge making a decision with which no one is happy.  Working together towards a compromise is the only way to keep your divorce in your hands and that means you must be able to get through divorce negotiations without fighting.

Focus on Future and Not the Past

When one or both spouses are unable to let go of the past it is almost impossible to move forward productively during a divorce.  Anger, hurt, and pain are all natural parts of a divorce but an inability to look towards the future can prolong things indefinitely. Beyond discussing parts of your marriage with your attorney in order to create a fair settlement offer it is best to keep your mind on the present and the future.  Focus on what you hope to accomplish during your meeting with your spouse or what goals you have set for yourself and children after the divorce is finalized.

No Yelling or Degrading

Insulting or yelling at your spouse may make you feel better temporarily, but it accomplishes nothing. Speaking loudly does not help you get your point across, and while foul language or insults may cause your spouse pain, neither of you will leave the meeting closer to an actual resolution. Instead of giving in to the urge to let out your pent-up frustrations, focus on the issues that need to be addressed in order to get the divorce settlement you want. If you get to a point where you are too upset to say anything positive or helpful, ask for a quick break so that you can leave the room and calm down in private.

Listen and Acknowledge

Do your best to listen to what your spouse is saying and acknowledge any questions asked of you. Interrupting or ignoring yoru spouse needlessly drags the discussion out by placing him or her in a position to feel like he or she is not being heard. Letting your spouse speak, no matter how much you disagree with what he or she is saying, increases the likelihood of being able to speak uninterrupted when it is your turn to talk. Communication during a divorce requires both partners to listen to each other and respond only when necessary.

Get Legal Advice

Even if you and your spouse are able to master the art of communicating without fighting, proper legal advice is still necessary. A skilled family law attorney is able to help you prepare a settlement that answers questions regarding child custody, spousal or child support, asset distribution, and more. The attorneys at Lawrence Law Office are here to provide you with the advice and support you need at our conveniently located Columbus, Ohio office. Contact us today at 614-228-3664 to schedule a consultation.

Three Ways to Ruin Your Divorce Settlement

In most contested divorce scenarios, each partner feels that he or she is in the right and that any settlement agreement should favor him or her. A family law judge will focus on hearing relevant information and making a fair judgment according to the facts of the case. Unfortunately, some divorcing adults take matters into their own hands hoping to find a way to guarantee that the judge favors them. When you or someone you know attempts to find a way to tip the scales in your favor, it is possible that you will instead find a way to completely ruin your divorce settlement.

Spying on Your Spouse

Television shows and movies often feature one spouse using technology to spy on a partner in order to obtain information to use against him or her in a divorce. Adults going through a divorce sometimes try to emulate what they have seen by spying on their spouse using computer programs, apps, or even professionals. The problem with spying on a spouse is that it can have legal consequences if not done correctly. Instead of obtaining irrefutable proof that your spouse is involved in wrong-doing, you could place yourself in the legal hot seat.

Hiding Assets

During the divorce process, both partners work with the attorneys and the judge to determine a divorce settlement that fairly divides assets. Some people do not have a clear idea of their personal property vs. marital property, leading them to attempt hiding assets that they do not feel should be shared. Attempting to hide money, property, or even lie about your income can all lead to extremely serious consequences. Not only will you have to share your assets with your spouse, the judge may penalize you by awarding your spouse a larger share. Also, hiding assets ruins your credibility, making it difficult for you or your attorney to convince the judge of anything in the future.

Oversharing on Social Media

The growth of the internet in general and social media specifically have changed the way information is gathered during divorces. Many attorneys have admitted to using social media to find out information about their clients’ spouses spending habits or parenting that was later used in court. A man or woman going through a divorce may feel tempted to use social media as a way to prove that life is continuing without issue by sharing pictures of outings, activities, or even using social media to insult his or her estranged spouse. All of these actions could lead to your social media activity being presented as evidence against you during your divorce hearings.  A woman who is claiming in court that her ex is leaving his children destitute may find herself  in an embarrassing bind if her ex’s lawyer presents pictures of her recent international vacation that was shared on social media.

Get Legal Help

Once you have decided to get a divorce, getting legal help immediately is the best way to protect your case. A divorce attorney can prevent you from making any serious blunders that could impact your ability to obtain a fair divorce settlement. The attorneys at Lawrence Law Office understand the difficulties of going through a contested divorce and we are here to give you the legal representation and advice you need to obtain the settlement you desire. Contact our conveniently located Columbus office today and schedule a consultation.

Preparing for a Military Divorce

Getting a divorce is never easy, but being an active duty service member or retired veteran adds complications to an already difficult process. The unique circumstances often surrounding the end of a marriage when one partner is, or was, in the military require specialized knowledge and extra preparation. If you or someone close to you is preparing for a military divorce, it is important to educate yourself regarding certain factors that can seriously impact your divorce settlement. Failing to consult an attorney who understands military divorce could create a situation in which you do not have the representation of an advocate who is truly able to act in your best interest.

Obtain Funds

Divorce is typically expensive regardless of the route you take. Once you are certain that divorce is your only option, it is a good idea to begin saving funds to use for your divorce and to pay for basic expenses. Most attorneys will require you to pay a retainer and if you are a military spouse, it is possible that the service member will stop any allotments that you are receiving. Also, if your spouse decides to move out of the marital home, there might be a period of time during which you are required to handle all of the household expenses alone. Entering the divorce process with no cash on hand increases the likelihood of agreeing to an unreasonable settlement because you are in a desperate financial situation.

Take Advantage of Counseling

Active duty military personnel and their spouses are able to receive counseling prior to getting divorce. The counseling services are free, confidential, and can offer the emotional support you need. Instead of focusing on encouraging a couple to stay together, pre-divorce counselors can provide realistic advice and can continue to provide you with an emotional outlet once the divorce proceedings begin. Military counseling services aid military spouses and service members during the extremely stressful divorce process. These services are especially useful in situations where a pre-divorce separation is required.

Gather Documentation

Many aspects of military divorce are reliant on the length of time the couple was married while the service member was in the military. Retirement sharing, health insurance, and other benefits are determined by how much of the marriage took place while the military member was in service. Gathering documentation regarding your marriage, the time spent in the military, investments, accounts, property information, and other details can help prove your case along with the assets to which you are entitled. Also, record your own spending and income so that disclosing your financial resources is easier.

Contact an Attorney

Contacting an attorney who has experience helping military families is the most important part of your divorce process. A military divorce attorney who understands military benefits and retirement distribution can ensure that your rights are protected. The attorneys at Lawrence Law Office understand how complicated a military divorce is and we have helped many clients achieve positive outcomes. Contact our Columbus, Ohio office today to discuss your situation and schedule a consultation.

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.

Consequences of Hiding Assets During a Divorce

Dividing assets is one of the most complicated aspects of the divorce process. No matter how amicable a couple plans to be at the beginning of their separation, the idea of sharing property and money can bring out the worst in the best of people. Though most adults depend on their attorneys to handle these negotiations, it is not unusual for one spouse to decide to take matters into his or her own hands. Even when warned about the potential consequences of hiding assets, a person who resents his or her spouse, or who feels he or she cannot afford a fair division may still attempt to conceal property or money. It is important to understand the consequences of attempting to hide assets during a divorce.

Damages Credibility

One of the worst consequences of attempting to hide assets is the loss of credibility. Divorce attorneys are aware of methods used to hide assets and are skilled at discovering any marital property that was previously undisclosed. Once your efforts to conceal property are discovered, they will be exposed to the judge hearing your case. After being caught hiding property, all future statements made regarding your financial status or needs will be scrutinized. For the remainder of your case, the judge will view you as a villain and your spouse’s attorney will constantly remind the judge of your past indiscretion and dishonesty.

Negatively Affects All Financial Areas of Your Case

In addition to damaging your credibility, an attempt to hide assets will negatively impact all finance-related negotiations in the future. Once you have lied under oath or in a sworn statement about your assets, a judge is less likely to believe you if you say that you cannot afford to pay a certain alimony amount. Also, if you and your spouse are disputing what you each contributed toward the marital property, the judge is more likely to believe the person who has not already told a lie. After trying to hide assets, it will be implied or assumed that every statement you make about your income or property is false.

Civil and Criminal Penalties

There are several penalties that a judge can impose on you if you are caught attempting to hide assets during a divorce. A person who purposefully makes a false statement under oath can be charged with perjury, which is a third degree felony in the state of Ohio. Depending on the situation, a person who lies about their assets during a divorce may face additional criminal charges for contempt of court. Contempt of court and perjury could both lead to incarceration.  Other penalties include making the guilty party pay for the spouse’s attorneys fees or awarding the guilty spouse a smaller share of the marital assets than he or she otherwise would have received.

Contact an Attorney

During a contentious divorce, a person under considerable stress may make a bad decision that could impact the entire process. If you are  accused of hiding assets, or suspect that your spouse is hiding assets, you should contact a qualified divorce attorney immediately. The attorneys at The Lawrence Law Office understand how stressful and difficult dividing assets during a divorce often is. Our attorneys can discuss your available options and help you prepare for future hearings. Contact us today at 614-228-3664 to schedule a consultation at our conveniently located Columbus, Ohio office.

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.

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.

Five Common Mistakes to Avoid During Divorce

When going through a painful divorce, it is important to remain objective, focus on your long-term needs, and hire an experienced divorce attorney. If you head into a divorce angry and looking for a fight, you are less likely to set yourself and your children up well for the future.

Five common mistakes to avoid are:

Ignoring Tax Implications

Your tax liability will change after a divorce and you need to be prepared. You liability as a single individual may increase or decrease. You may have more or fewer deductions depending on where your children live or if you pay child or spousal support. An experienced attorney will consider tax implications when negotiating a property and financial settlement so you are not hit with a huge bill.

Using Children as a Bargaining Chip

It can be easy to use time with the children as leverage for other issues in the divorce. But dragging your children into the divorce can ruin parent-child relationships and make the situation emotionally difficult for the kids. It is best to leave issues surrounding the children separate from other factors within the divorce.

Ignoring the Relevance of Social Media

What parents put on their social media is becoming more relevant to child responsibility and custody decisions. While the court will not look at factors that do not affect the parent-child relationship, the court can consider social media content like Facebook posts and tweets when determining who gets custody of the children. A parent’s social media posts regarding alcohol and drug use may reduce his or her chances of gaining parental responsibilities. On the other hand, these posts can also be used to support the presence of a parent-child relationship.

Not Reviewing Facts, Figures, and Documents

You should always be aware of what your divorce documents say or what a piece of paper states before you sign it. You should work closely with your attorney so that you can review documents before they are submitted to the court. You should also ask to review court documents before they are submitted. Attorneys and law clerks are people and they sometimes make mistakes. It is your job to ensure everyone involved has the correct information and that there are no mistakes leading up to your divorce decree.

Not Updating Your Will

Once your divorce is finalized, you should immediately draft a new will. Now that you are single, you need to decide who inherits your property instead of your ex-spouse. You may leave it all to your children or decide portions of the estate go to other family and friends.

Contact an Experienced Divorce Attorney Today

If you are thinking of filing for divorce or your current divorce is not going well, 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. We want to protect your rights and ensure that you and your children have what you need following a divorce.

Who Gets What: Dividing the Little Things

Courts are well versed in assisting couples in dividing their marital assets. There is law and substantial case law that informs how the marital home, automobiles, 401k plans, pensions, retirement accounts, bank accounts, businesses or business interests, and brokerage accounts get divided among the divorcing spouses. While a difficult process, the outcome is a fair distribution of the marital assets.

When it comes to the little things, however, the divorcing couple is on their own. Many attorneys draft clauses in the settlement agreement that the parties will divide all personal property or the little things on their own. Courts too often refuse to make decisions on the division of small items because it is time-consuming and the items themselves have little monetary value and are more emotionally valuable to the divorcing spouses than anything else.   

Sweating the Small Stuff: A Guide to Division of the Little Things

Let’s pretend that you and your soon to be ex-spouse share the same birthday. On your birthday, you receive ten gifts. None of them are labeled so you do not know which gift goes to which person. How do you divide the gifts? The scene quickly descends to chaos. The main reason all hell breaks loose is uncertainty. No one likes uncertainty. When it comes time to divide the personal items you and your spouse collected during your marriage, refer to these guidelines often – particularly when the process becomes overwhelming.

  • Keep in mind that the little things are not simple or trivial but laden with emotions.
  • Items and personal effects have different meanings to different people. Just because you think it is trash does not mean your spouse does not treasure the item.
  • Conflict will happen but it can be managed.
  • Doing nothing is not an option.
  • Limit personal contact. Emotional trauma and spite should be left out of the process entirely.
  • Give and take.
  • Ask your spouse what he or she wants ahead of time.

Create a Division System

Prior to dividing the little things, the divorcing couple should set up some rules and parameters on how items are to be selected, or a division system. The idea behind this is that if you buy into the process, you are more likely to buy into the outcome, even if you do not get everything that you want. If you stick to a system you both create then you will not tear each other apart when you try to divide the assets.

A Note on Spiteful Decisions

A woman in New York took two crystal chandelier fixtures when she moved out of the marital residence during her divorce proceedings. They were worth $300,000, and she sold them for $13,000. The judge in the matter was not happy with her behavior and ordered the value of the chandeliers to be deducted from the five million dollar lump sum payment she was owed under the prenuptial agreement. In the end, her spiteful actions only hurt her. If possible, leave emotional trauma and spite out of the distribution process entirely.

Contact an Experienced Family Law Attorney Today

If you or someone you know is struggling to divide assets with a soon-to-be ex spouse, 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.

Property Division and Divorce in Ohio

When it comes to divorce, every state’s laws regarding asset division are a little bit different. Property and assets are divided under what is either community property laws or marital property laws. Community property classifies property acquired by either spouse or both during the period of marriage to be jointly owned, with the same amount of interest between them. While the couple retains separate interest in the assets or property they held prior to the marriage, a court will view property acquired during marriage as a 50/50 division. Laws surrounding community property are following in nine states, including Arizona, California, Texas, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Washington, and Wisconsin.

The other 41 states follow the laws of marital property, including Ohio. When dividing assets, an Ohio court would find that the assets are to be equally distributed, unless distribution would be inequitable. However, many states that follow marital property laws allow for a fair distribution, which may not always be completely equal, like those in community property states. Marital property is also real or personal property currently owned by a spouse or acquired during the marriage, as well as any income or appreciation made on property that was separately owned by one spouse, or any interest either have in personal property, as well as retirement and compensation benefit packages.

but separate property can be included when determining property division in some cases. Some examples of separate property are any inheritance or gift incurred by a spouse during the marriage, property acquired before the marriage, any property outlined in a prenuptial agreement as non-includable, property bought after a legal separation has been entered into court, as well as any passive income or appreciation on separate property throughout the marriage. Separate property can be considered marital when, after researching, cannot be separated on its face from marital property due to commingling of funds or interest. Ohio views professional degrees and licenses as separate asset not subject to division.

Divorce Question? Call Us Today!

Dividing assets can be a complicated process for both spouses. We want to make sure you get what you are entitled to under Ohio laws of marital property. If you or someone you know is struggling to divide their assets or property in their divorce, we can help. 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.

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