Family Law Frequent Questions

What is the difference between a dissolution and a divorce?

Basically, in a dissolution the parties present their written agreement to the court, along with a petition asking the court to dissolve their marriage. The parties’ agreement must address all issues relevant to their marital relationship, for example, child custody, visitation, and support, as well as property division, debts, taxes, and fees. Then, the court must hold a final hearing acting on their petition between thirty and ninety days after it is filed. On the other hand, a divorce is a lawsuit filed by one party against the other, asking the court to decide all matters pertaining to the marriage. Even though one spouse may sue the other for divorce, most people reach an agreement without an actual trial. If no agreement is reached, the court will decide all of the unresolved issues.

Does my spouse have to move out before a dissolution or divorce is final?

Definitely yes, for dissolution. Most courts in Ohio require separation prior to the granting of a divorce, as well.

What happens to the property my spouse and I have accumulated during our marriage?

The basic approach in Ohio is to determine what the parties’ marital assets are, and then to divide them 50-50, even if one person earned more money than the other during the marriage — unless something very unusual has happened that would require the court to divide the property differently. It is important to distinguish among three types of property: separate property, pre-marital property, and marital property. Ohio is not a community property state. If either party claims that property is separate or pre-marital, the person making the claim must prove it.

Will a court order spousal support in my situation?

The court may order spousal support in certain situations, for example, where one spouse or the other has not developed a career because of home responsibilities, or has failing health.

What do I do if I cannot afford an attorney?

Certain child support actions can be taken through your county’s child support enforcement agency so that you do not need to retain a private attorney. Also in some Ohio counties, a local Legal Aid Agency might be able to provide assistance, if you meet their income criteria. Finally, Ohio law allows you to seek a court order directing your spouse to help with your attorney’s fees at any stage in a domestic relations action if you can show that you must have such help in order to assert your legal rights. Of course, you have the right to go to court without an attorney and represent yourself. Remember to refer to your employment benefits package for any “legal insurance” you might have.

How does the court decide matters about children?

When called upon to decide matters pertaining to the children, the court must determine what is in “the best interest of the children.” In order to do this, the court must consider several different factors; for example, the court is to consider 1) The wishes of the child’s parents regarding his or her care, 2) The child’s interaction with other people who are important in his or her life, 3) The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community; 4) The mental and physical health of all persons involved in the situation; 5) The parent more likely to honor and facilitate visitation and companionship rights approved by the court; 6) Whether either parent has failed to make all child support payments, including all arrearages that are required of that parent pursuant to a child support order under which that parent is an obligor; 7) Certain criminal convictions of parents. In order to reach its decision, the court may interview the child in chambers, and may hear testimony from a psychologist or other expert.

What is shared parenting?

Shared parenting generally means that the parents work together to develop a plan to provide for the physical and legal care for their children. The court must then decide if the plan for shared parenting is in the best interest of the children. A shared parenting plan should discuss physical living arrangements, child support, medical and dental care, school placement, and parenting schedules for legal holidays, school holidays, and other days of special importance.

What can I do if my child has been taken out of the United States?

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, adopted in 1980, provides a method for the return of children who have been unlawfully removed or for visitation by a parent who has been denied access. For your child to be promptly returned or for a parent who has been denied visitation. Also, the International Child Abduction Remedies Act provides a possible solution.

How does the court determine the amount of child support to be paid?

Child support is calculated based on the incomes of the two parties. You can refer to the table below to find the amount to be allocated for your child(ren) each year. Briefly, the first step is to figure out the percentage of income earned per year by the parent who will be paying support; then apply that percentage to the amount of support. For example, if the two parents have equal incomes of $15,000 per year, for a joint annual income of $30,000 and they have one child, the annual support is $5,377.00. The parenting paying child support would pay fifty percent of the annual support, since s/he earned fifty percent of the income. Fifty percent of $5,377.00 is $2,688.50. A regular amount of child support is then deducted each payday from the payor’s paycheck. In this example, if the payor is paid once each month, one-twelfth of $2,688.50 would be withheld from his or her paycheck, i.e. $224.05. These guidelines are an important starting point, but courts frequently deviate from them, depending on the circumstances of the parties.

FAQ about Pre-Nuptial Agreements

What is a pre-nuptial agreement?

A pre-nuptial (or antenuptial) agreement is a written contract between a man and woman contemplating marriage. It must include a full disclosure of all of their assets and liabilities. It should also include details of how they agree their financial matters will be handled during their marriage, as well as in the event of divorce or death.

Who needs pre-nuptial agreement?

Pre-nuptial agreements are commonly used by people who have accumulated assets, such as real estate or investments, and want to continue to keep ownership and control of those assets regardless of the marriage they are planning.

When is the best time to prepare a pre-nuptial agreement?

Once two parties decide to marry, they should allow sufficient time to negotiate and finalize the agreement, including retaining and counseling with an attorney. This process may take several weeks, and should occur well in advance of the wedding. A last minute effort that does not truly reflect both peoples’ wishes may nevertheless be enforced by a court, and should be avoided.

Does a pre-nuptial agreement have to be filed with a court?

No, the parties can simply retain their agreement with their other valuable papers. They can keep its contents strictly confidential between the two of them and their legal counsel.

Farlow & Associates, LLC is located in Dublin, Ohio, and serves clients throughout Ohio in places including Columbus, Hilliard, Powell, Marysville, Upper Arlington, Delaware, Worthington, Westerville, New Albany, Plain City, Lewis Center, Sunbury, Newark, Gahanna, Reynoldsburg, Whitehall, Bexley, Pickerington, Pataskala, Franklin County, Union County, Delaware County, Licking County, Pickaway County and Madison County, OH.