Divorce with Children
Giulitto Law Office handles divorce with children proceedings in Portage County, Ohio and surrounding areas. Call our office to speak with a lawyer if you are thinking about a divorce with children.
A divorce proceeding anticipates the trial of all relevant matters to a judge or magistrate. The court makes all the unresolved decisions relating to the property and debt, the issues relating to the children, spousal support and any other relevant issues such as attorneys’ fees, court costs, tax exemptions, and the like. Divorce proceedings are similar to civil trials with certain exceptions. Filing a divorce does not necessarily mean that the case will go to trial. Parties frequently settle the case prior to trial and the divorce ends with an agreement as opposed to a contested trial. Some cases will have most issues resolved with only certain issues to be decided by the court.
Divorces with children often take on an added dimension. Unfortunately, when children are involved in court proceedings litigation can be contentious. Litigants often do things they wouldn’t normally do because of the emotions involved. The best thing to do in these cases is hire an experienced attorney to guide you through the process. You may not like everything your lawyer tells you, but please keep in mind, an experienced lawyer has been down this road before. Your attorney is invaluable in these types of cases.
The divorce is started by filing the complaint. Frequently, the complaint is accompanied with motions for temporary orders, which govern spousal and child support and allocates parental rights (custody) during the divorce process. Restraining orders are also available at the start of a divorce to prevent a party from harassing the other party or creating financial catastrophes for the other spouse. In addition the court can order one spouse an allowance to stay in the marital home during the divorce process.
The divorce process with children typically covers the following issues:
Division of Marital Property. The first issue is the division of the marital assets and marital debts. If the parties cannot agree on the division of marital assets and marital debts, the court will divide them in accordance with Ohio law. Ohio law defines what marital property and separate property is and how it is to be divided during a divorce action. Marital property is typically property that was acquired during the marriage. Separate property is also defined by Ohio law. Sometimes, there is a dispute as to what constitutes marital property and separate property. The distinction is important because the court will divide the marital property in a manner that is equitable- usually this means it is divided equally but that does not happen in all cases. The court then will disburse each spouse’s separate property to that spouse. However, the court can make a “distributive award” to the other spouse from separate property in certain circumstances. The division of marital property can be a complex process and a skilled attorney can help ensure that the division is in your best interest.
Allocation of Parental Rights (Custody). The second issue that arises is the issue of the allocation of parental rights or more commonly known as custody. If the parties cannot agree, the court has two primary options available regarding custody. The first occurs where one party receives sole custody. The custodial parent will make all the major decisions regarding the child/children. The second occurs when a shared parenting plan is approved. A shared parenting plan is an agreement whereby the parties will make decisions together with the terms of the shared parenting plan controlling. Ohio law spells out how the judge decides between a sole custody arrangement or shared parenting. The critical inquiry is what is in the “best interests of the child.” Ohio law lists factors that the court considers when determining what is the best interests of the child.
Whether there is shared parenting or a sole custodial parent situation, the Court will address parenting time. In shared parenting, parenting time is contained in the plan. It is important to note, that shared parenting does NOT necessarily mean each parent will have equal time with the child/children. One parent may have more time than the other in a shared parenting situation. Those issues are spelled out in the shared parenting agreement. When a sole custodial parent is ordered, the non-residential parent will receive parenting time absent extraordinary circumstances. The best interest factors guide the court in making parenting time decisions.
Child Support. The third issue that arises is the payment of child support. Child support is determined by a worksheet as spelled out by Ohio law. The amount the worksheet puts out is presumed to be the correct amount of child support due, but Ohio law allows for deviations from the presumed amount. Ohio law spells out the factors that the court considers when deviation is requested. Child support continues until a certain event such as the child reaching the age of majority or the child’s marriage (there are other reasons why child support would terminate- death, enlistment in the armed services, deportation or change of custody). There are also numerous provisions regarding the health care of the children, regardless of whether the parties have insurance or not. Child support can be a tricky issue even though Ohio has worksheet that establishes an amount.
Spousal Support. The fourth issue that frequently arises is spousal support. Unlike child support, spousal support does not have a worksheet to determine the amount. The court will consider a variety of a factors listed by Ohio law to determine the amount of spousal support. This is not an exact science and is a frequently litigated issue. Again, an attorney is invaluable in helping you through the process.
As you can see, a family separation is a pretty complex process that a qualified attorney can help guide you through. If you are facing a family separation, contact our office today to receive a FREE CONSULTATION.
Please see the following link for helpful information information on divorces in Portage County: