No. There is no requirement that you live in the same county as your attorney. In fact, divorce lawyers are licensed to practice in any court in the state. If you are getting divorced in Ohio, you certainly need a lawyer licensed by our state. Someone with a Kentucky license cannot help you in an Ohio court. But there is no requirement that you live near or in the same zip code as your lawyer.
Still, there are advantages to hiring someone local. At Lawrence Law Office, we have helped many people divorce in our state, and we will gladly meet with you to discuss whether we are a good fit.
You Must Divorce in the County Where You Live
People seeking a divorce are limited as to where they can file. In particular, you can file for divorce only in a county where one spouse has lived for at least 90 days immediately prior to filing.
Imagine Michael and Amy just moved to Franklin County. They can’t file for divorce here until at least one has lived here for 90 days. However, this doesn’t mean they each must hire a lawyer in this county—though, as we explain below, there are advantages to doing so.
A Local Lawyer Knows the Court Procedure
Generally, Ohio civil courts follow the same rules of procedure, so any licensed attorney should know these rules. Still, most counties do adopt some local rules that apply to just the courts in that county. And a local attorney will have more experience with these locals rules and can more efficiently shepherd your case through the system.
If you violate court procedure, a judge will become annoyed. You will also delay your divorce as you try to comply with all the local rules. Though courts publish most of their local rules, they can be hard for lawyers who are used to a different county’s system. Hiring a local attorney makes the process that much easier.
A Local Lawyer Knows the Judges
There are no jury trials in divorce cases. Instead, any contested issue gets decided by a judge. And with most issues involving divorce, a judge must use vague standards to decide contested issues.
As an example, child custody disputes are decided by what is in the child’s “best interest.” Ohio law gives the judge many different factors to consider, but the process is very subjective, and each just will weigh different factors in their own unique manner.
The same is true of spousal support. A spouse isn’t automatically entitled to support. But there are factors a judge should consider when deciding whether support is appropriate and reasonable. Again, judges have quite a bit of discretion.
Along these same lines, judges divide marital property “equitably” based on the judge’s consideration of what is fair. There is no automatic 50/50 split. Judges can even make a distributive award to give effect to what he or she thinks is fair.
In these areas, our clients can benefit from our familiarity with the local judges. We understand what information a judge will find persuasive and how he or she likes to receive it. For example, a judge might find testimony from a professional therapist very convincing in child custody fights. Other judges might be more willing to award alimony if one spouse has a disability. This local knowledge is priceless and is a big reason why you should hire someone with local knowledge.
You Can Communicate Easier with a Local Lawyer
Admittedly, email has made it much easier to ask questions and keep in touch. Nevertheless, having counsel nearby can be a big help. If you need to drop off paperwork or come in for a deposition, then it is much easier to get to our offices. Sometimes you might need to stop by to sign an important document, which is always easier when you have a shorter distance to travel.
This doesn’t mean you can’t hire an attorney who lives a half hour away or even an hour away—you can. And sometimes a lawyer who lives a little way away might offer better service and be more appropriate, especially if you need a lawyer with experience in a high-asset divorce or another niche area. But you must consider how convenience impacts who you hire.
Speak with Our Ohio Divorce Lawyer
Our attorneys are proud to represent men and women who are considering divorce. Completing the process is a big undertaking, and we are happy to meet to discuss what to expect.