Columbus Divorce Attorney
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Columbus, Ohio Divorce Attorneys
Family Law specialists with OVER 63 YEARS of experience.
You may be surprised to hear this, but there are a number of different ways to approach a divorce. It’s not usually appropriate for a divorce to last years with each issue hotly contested while everyone, including the children, suffers. Though sometimes litigation is necessary, there are other approaches to divorce including mediation and collaborative divorce, which a dedicated Columbus divorce attorney is uniquely prepared to handle.
Issues that Divorce is Designed to Handle
When two people occupy the same residences and start a family, their finances become hopelessly entangled. When the divorce begins, so too does the process of separating what’s yours from what belongs to your spouse. This includes property and other assets like bank accounts, investments, and your debts as well.
In Ohio, Ohio Revised Code Section 3105.171 specifies that the distribution of all marital property should be equitable. While a couple can–and is encouraged to–come to an agreement about the division of property without the interference of the court, if they are unable to reach an agreement, the court will intervene and make a decision that is equitable, but not necessarily equal.
Marital property–which is property that is subject to equitable division–includes all property that is owned by both or either spouses; separate property is that property that was acquired by one spouse prior to the marriage or acquired by gift or inheritance. Factors that the court will consider in determining what is equitable include the following:
- The duration of the marriage
- The assets and liabilities of each spouse
- Whether or not the family home will be awarded to the spouse who will be the primary caregiver for any children of the couple after divorce
- Whether or not the property to be distributed is liquid in nature
- The tax consequences of a property division settlement
- Any other factors the court finds relevant and necessary to consider in order to make a determination about equitable division.
Here, there are many decisions to be made. These include with whom the children will live and which parent has the right to make medical and educational decisions for the children.
Parents are strongly encouraged to work together–often through mediated sessions–in order to reach an agreement about the custody of a child and to form a parenting plan. It is only when parents are unable to do this that the court will intervene and issue an order (after hearing each parent’s case).
A court is obligated to make a child custody determination that is in the best interests of the child. In order to understand what arrangement would satisfy this requirement, the court will consider the following:
- The wishes of each parent
- The wishes of the child (when the court has interviewed the child)
- The child’s relationship with each parent and their relationship with anyone else in the home
- The child’s adjustment to home and community
- The mental and physical health and needs of each party involved in the decision, any history of abuse or neglect
- Each parent’s ability and willingness to support the other parent’s relationship with the child
- The ability of the parents to cooperate
- The geographic proximity of the parents to one another
- The recommendations of a guardian ad litem, and other factors the court deems relevant.
The state of Ohio uses a formula to determine how much child support a non-custodial parent must pay to a custodial parent. In other words, the parent with whom the children live receives child support based on a number of different factors that the court takes into consideration.
The state of Ohio uses a complex set of factors to determine if one spouse is entitled to collect spousal support or alimony. This is separate from child support but taking care of the children’s needs is one factor that is considered when calculating child support. As found in Ohio Code, factors that are considered in making an award of spousal support to one party in a divorce include:
- The earnings of each party
- The ages of each parties
- The duration of the marriage
- The education and training of the spouse seeking support
- The standard of living established during the marriage
- The extent that it would be appropriate for the support-receiving parent to seek work outside of the home (if they are caring for a small child)
- The tax consequences to each party
- The amount of time and expense it would require for the spouse seeking support to gain education or training
- The contribution of each party to the education or training of other
- The assets and liabilities of each party
- Any other factor “the court expressly finds to be relevant and equitable.”
Often, parents hope to maintain the standard of living their children were accustomed to before the divorce. While doing so may be helpful for the children, it can be difficult to sustain. It may be necessary to adjust your and your child’s lifestyles to keep your finances in good shape and make ends meet. Parents can put themselves on the right track by determining how much is spent on each child per year and creating a budget accordingly. Parents can begin this process by reviewing their finances as they relate to the children from the past year; in addition to day-to-day necessities, be sure to include the costs of activities, such as sports teams or camp, as well. It is also important to plan for unexpected costs, such as emergency medical bills.
The Lawrence Law Office’s Approach to Dissolving Your Marriage
Generally speaking, we have found that the less adversarial the process is, the better it ends up working out for everyone. Most importantly, this includes your children. So mediation or collaborative divorce are good places to begin. These methods will not be appropriate for every marriage, however, so it’s important to recognize that there may be a struggle or the mediation process may end up in litigation. That is not uncommon.
We have also found that in order to see your interests realized, you should have a plan for moving forward. For instance, some folks sacrifice their career aspirations in order to stay home and raise the children. When it comes time to divorce, they may need time to get training or to go back to school. This is where spousal support would come into play.
Ideally, both spouses can reach an agreement that works for everyone. When this process falls apart, however, the only option left is a contested divorce or litigation.
At Lawrence Law, our skilled attorneys work with a team of specialists and experts, including financial planners, CPAs, business brokers, and more, so everyone involved has a clear picture of all the details of your divorce. Working with these professionals together allows us to resolve the issues of your divorce in a smooth and timely manner, while keeping the costs of the divorce case down. When you need sound legal advice on the details of your divorce, call our skilled attorneys to learn why we are the right fit for your case.
What Are The Grounds For Divorce In Columbus?
Other states require married couples to get either a fault-based divorce or a no-fault divorce. People that file a divorce based on grounds of the fault must prove their spouse was to blame for the breakdown of the marriage. In Ohio, people can file divorce using the following fault-based grounds:
- One party was already legally married at the time of the marriage for which divorce is being sought
- One party was willfully absent for at least one year
- Extreme cruelty
- The marriage contract was fraudulent
- Gross neglect of duty, such as refusing to support a spouse
- Habitual drunkenness
- The other party was imprisoned in a federal or state correctional institution when the divorce complaint was filed
Unlike other states, Ohio also allows married people to file for no-fault divorce. To do this, the couple must live separately and apart for one year, or the person filing must file on the grounds of incompatibility. When claiming that the couple is no longer compatible, each party must agree to that fact. This does not necessarily mean, however, that both parties must agree to the divorce in order for the case to proceed.
After one party files for divorce, their spouse can contest the grounds for ending the marriage when they do not agree to it. When this is the case, the court must first determine if there is reason to proceed with the divorce case before actually resolving the terms of the divorce.
A judge may determine that mediation is the best option for couples when making a decision on proceeding with the divorce case. During mediation, a neutral third-party mediator will attempt to foster communication and compromise between the two parties so they can ultimately resolve their issues. Marriage counseling is another option a judge may order when one person does not agree with the divorce. Still, judges are unlikely to dismiss a divorce action simply because both parties do not agree to it.
Fault vs. No-Fault Divorce in Columbus
Divorce occurs for a number of reasons, but when filing for divorce, a couple must file for either a fault or a no-fault divorce. In a no-fault divorce, the couple has differences that are not reconcilable and they are not able to mend their marriage. Fault divorces, on the other hand, are filed when one spouse is blaming the dissolution of the marriage on the other for a specific reason. Reasons for fault divorces include adultery, abandonment over a certain period of time, emotional or physical abuse, and fraud, among others. While not all states require the same elements or have the same grounds for fault divorce, these are the most common.
Among these reasons, fraud can be the most controversial. The impact of fraud on the relationship can vary depending on when it occurred and to what extent the marriage was entered into because of it. Fraud can be grounds for an annulment when the spouse grossly misrepresented issues, events, or wealth to a spouse who would not have entered into the marriage had he or she knew the truth. If one spouse uses this as grounds to file a divorce, he or she must show the court the wrongdoing through evidence, which the opposing spouse has the opportunity to rebut.
Fraud includes misrepresenting wealth, either by overstating or understating it to induce the marriage or as a way to pay less spousal support during divorce proceedings or lying about previous marriages or children. In the case of a same-sex couple in the United Kingdom, where one partner misrepresented her wealth to the court as a way to have her former spouse accept a lower settlement, the case is being reopened. The couple was together for 18 years and when their marriage dissolved, she accepted a settlement based on the court’s assessment of wealth and what was fair, but after her former partner passed, she was later informed that the former spouse’s estate was worth much more than she had known.
The Court of Appeal will be listening to her right to set aside the original settlement and argue for a new settlement amount. While these instances are rare, they do occur when the court finds a great disparity such as the one presented. Critics worry that cases like these have the potential to open up this area of divorce to jam the court system and further stifle the divorce process.
How Much Will a Divorce Cost?
That depends on a number of factors. The longer the divorce, the more it costs. In addition, contested divorces tend to take longer and cost more money. Again, mediation is generally preferable for you, your former spouse, and for your children. A skilled divorce mediator can help you through the process and potentially save you thousands of dollars in court costs and legal fees. Still, mediation can cost a couple thousand dollars depending on how long the process takes.
Litigation, on the other hand, can go into the tens of thousands of dollars. Costs can include:
We have a personal connection with a forensic accountant that can unearth hidden assets, calculate the actual value of assets, including businesses and real property. Using a forensic accountant is particularly important in high net worth divorce cases, and can help you secure the fair settlement you deserve.
A private investigator can collect evidence against your spouse, whether you need to prove adultery, or the fact that your spouse has hidden money or taken other actions to avoid paying child support or alimony. When you work with our team of skilled lawyers, you will also have access to investigators that can collect this evidence to give your case the best chance of a successful outcome.
We regularly rely on our personal connection to a psychological expert that can advise on child custody matters. After determining what is in the child’s best interests, our specialist can testify for you in court if necessary, and help you reach the most desirable outcome.
If your divorce case involves the division of a business, our business broker can help you value it and if necessary, sell it for equitable distribution of the proceeds. Accurately valuing your business is one of the most complex aspects of divorce cases that involve a family business, but our skilled attorneys and team of professionals are here to help you through it.
And fees related to the endless depositions that are required
While litigation is costly, our experienced attorneys collaborate with the necessary professionals so you have a team that works together, limiting the costs you incur.
What Is a Contested Divorce?
An uncontested divorce is a divorce case in which both parties are in agreement about how issues in the divorce should be settled. On the other hand, a contested divorce is exactly the opposite – a divorce case where parties to the divorce disagree about one or more of the issues, such as where children should live or how property should be divided. If a divorce is contested and cannot be resolved through mediation, it will require the intervention of the court through litigation.
What are the Benefits of Mediation over a Contested Divorce?
Besides the costs involved with litigation, mediation ultimately gives the power to you and your spouse to decide. When the courts step in, they take control of the situation and make decisions that impact both you and your former spouse. In other words, the ultimate decision making power is no longer in your control. It’s in the courts. It’s a hefty sacrifice to make, but it’s sometimes necessary. It should, however, be considered a last resort.
What Happens if I’m the Non-Residential Parent?
Ohio Revised Code 3109.051 lays out the law when determining visitation rights. If the parents cannot come to an agreement, then the courts must determine if it is in the children’s best interests to have the parent be a part of their lives. The default stance of the court is that it is in the child’s best interests to have two parents taking an active role. In other words, the court will not deny a parent visitation unless it has a good reason to.
What If I Have a Particularly Complicated Divorce Case?
While most couples will need to resolve the common divorce dilemmas listed above–how to divide property and debts, where shared children will live and what the visitation rights of the other parent will be, and whether or not alimony will be part of a divorce settlement–some divorces are especially complex. For example, those in high-asest marriages may have a more challenging time dividing property; this is also true for business owners who are wondering how to protect their business from division during a divorce or how business assets will be divided during a divorce. If you are a business owner, regardless of what type of business you have–from bakeries to medical practices and everything in between–it’s important to speak with an attorney about how a divorce can impact your business and the best strategies for protecting your business from division.
How Will a Columbus Divorce Lawyer Help Me?
The decisoin to work with an attorney when getting divorced is very personal, and it’s important to note that there is no legal requirement to have representation during the process; however, failing to work with an experienced divorce lawyer may be one of the biggest mistakes that you make, especially if you have a complex divorce case or have children. When you work with an attorney, your attorney will advise you of the various family laws that will impact your case and what you need to know; will listen to your side of things and hear what you want out of the divorce case; will design a case strategy with the intent of protecting your best interests; will aggressively and fairly represent you in negotiations and divorce mediation; will be responsible for gathering evidence to support your case; will review any settlement that you and your spouse agree to in preparation for finalizing the divorce; will represent you during divorce litigation; and more. At the Lawrence Law Office, our Columbus divorce lawyers will do all of the above and more. As seasoned divorce attorneys with years of practice behind our name, we know what it takes to secure the case outcomes that our clients are looking for. We also know how emotional and sensitive a divorce can be and approach your case with the level of empathy, dedication, and commitment that you deserve. Whether you have a simple divorce case that just needs the eyes of an attorney on it before it’s finalized or a very complex divorce case that will require weeks or months of hard work and investigation, our law firm is ready to support you.
Is Your Child Sabotaging Your Divorce Negotiations?
The mental health of children is one of the primary concerns of parents going through a divorce. Communicating with your children and helping them cope with a stressful process is important, but it is possible that your children may begin interfering with your divorce. During your divorce, recognizing the signs of interference from your children can help you determine whether or not your children are sabotaging your divorce negotiations.
Movies like The Parent Trap make children reuniting divorced parents seem fun when in reality, children working against your divorce often create more heartache than it solves.
Are They Spying for Your Spouse?
Even though keeping children out of the middle of your relationship is one of the first rules of divorce, it is possible that your spouse will ignore that courtesy for expediency. Obtaining information about you and your personal or legal plans can help your spouse get the divorce settlement that he or she desires, sabotaging your case. If your child is eager to please the other parent, desperate to do what he or she thinks will stop the divorce, or angry and looking for ways to lash out at you, then he or she may tell the other parent everything you are doing.
Are They Trying to Make You Do Things Out of Guilt?
Children of any age who are angry about a divorce may start using their parents’ concern or guilt against them. Children may start out by using guilt to stay up later, watch movies they previously were not allowed to see, or get food and toys they otherwise might be denied. As time goes by, the requests may become more unreasonable and if humored, it is possible that your children may begin demanding that you reconcile with your spouse.
Not only does using guilt against you cause problems during a divorce, after the divorce is finalized, but the pattern of making guilt-based demands can also negatively impact you by sabotaging your future relationships and the health of your parent-child dynamic.
Are They Actively Seeking Ways to Stop Your Divorce?
Older children and adult children may start trying to find ways to stop your divorce in its tracks, often failing to understand how delays can affect you emotionally or financially. While it is normal for your children to give their opinions on your divorce and talk to you or your spouse about their feelings, trying to stop your divorce crosses many boundaries.
In an effort to stop or delay your divorce, your children may try to contact your attorney, the judge hearing the case, or appeal to a therapist or counselor. Some children may even appeal to friends and relatives for help using social media, further complicating your divorce.
Discuss Your Concerns
Parents who are going through a divorce are often unsure about discussing their concerns with individuals outside of the marriage or relationship. That is understandable, but it is important to remember that the relationship between a divorce attorney and a client is unique. Discussing your concerns with your attorney can help you determine possible solutions and keep your attorney aware of any developments that could impact his or her ability to represent you.
Why You Should Discuss Your Divorce with Your Child
Deciding to get a divorce is a choice that many adults struggle with for months or years. No matter how difficult the relationship has become, it is not unusual for a couple to attempt to work through their issues, especially if a child is involved. Once the situation reaches a point at which divorce is inevitable, it is important for both parents to talk to their children.
Unfortunately, parents often avoid directly talking to their children about getting a divorce. Some parents are uncomfortable about discussing their relationship with their children while others assume that their children already know about the divorce. Understanding how much simply talking to your children prior to the divorce can help them may encourage you to do so, even when you might not want to.
Studies have shown that children remember when they were told about an impending divorce. No matter how long ago a divorce took place, the memory stays fresh, illustrating how much of a psychological and emotional impact the news has on a child. Since children remember being told about divorce, it is important that parents control the way the information is delivered.
Failing to actually talk to your children about the divorce creates a situation in which the child may find out about the divorce through a friend, other family members, or by overhearing something. Even if your children forget some of the circumstances surrounding your divorce or marriage, they are very likely going to remember when they found out about the divorce and how they were told.
The age of a child can also impact how he or she receives the information about the divorce and how that child will later interpret it. A child who is not able to understand complexity is very dependent upon their parents for care and is not able to truly verbalize feelings may show his or her distress in other ways.
Children who are 5 years old or younger experience anxiety, anger, and experience developmental regressions. Some small children may blame themselves for the divorce, making it important to talk to children and reassure them. Patience and communication help your children understand and cope with the major life change.
Helps Keep Things Simple
Beginning the divorce process and talking to your children sporadically makes the entire process of explaining the situation more complicated than it needs to be. Regardless of the age of your children, a simple discussion with a clear message is often best. Older children who are probably not surprised will still be reassured by having their suspicions confirmed in a concise way.
Telling your children that their parents will be happier living in separate homes while remaining a stable part of their lives can ease some of their unconscious anxiety and help them prepare for the transition process.
Other Practice Areas
- Family Law
- Prenuptial Agreements
- Stepparent Adoption
- Grandparent Visitation Rights
- Spousal Support
- Equitable Distribution
- Military Divorce
- Social Media in Divorce
- Contempt & Enforcement
- Post Divorce
- Business Owners Divorce
- Tax issues
- Child Custody
- Grandparent Rights
- Same-Sex Couples Child Custody
- High Asset Divorce
- Retirement Assets
- Estate Planning
The place to go.
Lawrence Law Office is the place to go if you need expert and experienced legal counsel. Very knowledgeable about the court system. Been around along time. I highly recommend them!Stephen
Talk to a Divorce Attorney in Columbus Today
If you’re in the midst of a divorce and need someone to either mediate the divorce agreement or advocate on your behalf, the Lawrence Law Office can help you toward that goal. Give us a call or contact us online to set up an appointment.