Frequently Asked Questions

Here you can find answers to Frequently Ask Questions regarding Family Law, Probate & Estate Law, Tax Law, and Expungement & Sealing. If you cannot find what you are looking for, please give us a call and we will be more than happy to answer your questions.

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What is the difference between “divorce,” “dissolution,” and “annulment”?

A “divorce” is the legal separation and termination of the marital relationship by the judgment of a court which may be granted only upon a finding by the court that certain “grounds” for divorce exist. A divorce puts an end to the marital relationship.

A “dissolution” of marriage is a form of no fault termination of the marriage relationship where both parties have agreed upon all of the terms of the termination (such as division of marital property, spousal support, parental rights and responsibilities, child support, etc.) and are requesting that the court terminate the marriage and approve the agreement between the parties. The basic advantages of a dissolution are that it is not adversarial in nature (i.e. the parties have already agreed upon every aspect of termination); there is no plaintiff or defendant; it is not a “divorce” (although it does terminate the marriage like a divorce); and the court does not have to make any of the decisions it would have to make in a contested divorce. Additionally, it is usually concluded faster than a divorce action.

An “annulment” is a decree from a court determining that the marriage is legally invalid because of some defect that existed at the time the marriage was entered into. An annulment decree declares that a marital status never existed, unlike a divorce decree that terminates a marriage. The grounds for an annulment include: an underage marriage; bigamy (i.e. one of the parties has another living spouse); mental incompetence of one of the parties; fraud; duress and non-consummation of the marriage (which may include impotency).

What convictions cannot be sealed?

Traffic convictions and those offenses, which are specifically excluded by Ohio Revised Code, Section 2953.36.

I received an IRS Audit Letter. What should I do?

Review the IRS audit letter carefully. Usually, the letter will state one of two things. It may tell you that the audit process is just beginning and it will provide information on what to do next. Otherwise, it may tell you the dollar amount the IRS expects you to pay with an explanation of the suspected error. Either way, do not necessarily anticipate the worst and panic. Most importantly, do not ignore the IRS. This makes what could be a non-issue or small problem a very big one. Respond effectively to all IRS communications and keep all deadlines.

How long does probate take?

A small estate that does not require the filing of an Ohio estate tax return and has no credit issues often can be settled within six months of the appointment of the executor or administrator.  However, if an Ohio or a federal estate tax return is required, the administration of the estate can last more than a year.  (Estate taxes are not due until nine months after the decedent’s death.)  If there is an audit of an estate tax return, the administration can take an additional year or more, and an executor or administrator cannot safely distribute all of the estate assets until released from personal liability for estate taxes.  An extraordinary administration involving a contested will or complicated tax litigation may take several years to complete.  Claims against the estate may be made up to six months from the date of death.  However, in many cases, distributions of most or all estate assets do not necessarily have to wait until all probate matters have been completed.

Can felony convictions be sealed?

Possibly.  First and second degree felony convictions cannot be sealed.  Felony convictions where there was a mandatory prison term cannot be sealed.  Felonies where the victim was a minor; felonies that were crimes of violence and certain sex crimes cannot be sealed.  Many other felony convictions are eligible for sealing.

What are “grounds” or legal reasons for divorce in Ohio?

Ohio law permits the granting of a divorce only upon a finding by the court that there are statutory grounds to terminate the marriage. There must be testimony by the plaintiff and a corroborating witness (or an admission by the other spouse) as to these specific grounds.

Ohio has both “no-fault” and “fault” grounds for divorce. The “no-fault” grounds include “incompatibility” and “living separate and apart without cohabitation for one year.”

There are nine “fault” grounds in Ohio. These “fault” grounds include:

  • another spouse living at the time of marriage (bigamy);
  • willful absence of a party from the marital home for one year;
  • adultery;
  • extreme cruelty (defined as “acts conduct calculated to destroy the peace of mind and happiness of one of the parties to the marriage”);
  • fraudulent contract (i.e. a party was induced to enter the marriage as a result of a fraudulent representation that materially affects the essential elements of the marriage;
  • gross neglect of duty (i.e. acts that constitute an omission to perform a legal duty, such as a failure to support the family);
  • habitual drunkenness;
  • imprisonment of the adverse party in a state or federal institution at the time of the filing of the complaint; and
  • an out-of-state divorce.
Who has access to my criminal record?

Criminal convictions are public information, so anyone could have access to your criminal record, unless it has been sealed.

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