Cavinder Law Office and family law attorney Jason Cavinder provide intelligent, cost-effective family legal counsel to you, offering smart solutions to spare you the time, expense, and worry that inevitably accompanies family law struggles. We can be reached by telephone at (937) 751-4949, or by email at Jason@CavinderLaw.com. Our consultations are free and confidential.

Unfortunately there are sometimes difficulties in the family that simply cannot be resolved without court intervention. Matters ranging from divorce, custody determinations or disputes, paternity establishment, child support, and spousal support are litigated in the domestic relations (for married couples) and juvenile (for unwed parents) courts. Whatever the issue is, the consequences of such litigation can be confusing, frustrating, and may affect you for the rest of your life. It is crucial in these matters to have experienced and competent counsel protect your rights and aggressively advocate for your position.

DIVORCE

In Ohio, a legal marriage can be effectively terminated in four separate ways: Divorce, Dissolution, Legal Separation, and Annulment. Divorce and Dissolution are the most common.

A divorce may be had when one of the parties files a complaint with the Domestic Relations Court in the parties’ county of residence. This is typically done when the parties are in dispute about something related to the marriage, (such as division of property, allocation of parental rights and responsibilities, support, allocation of assets and debts, or one party simply does not want to end the marriage), and a dissolution can therefore not be accomplished.

The spouse filing the complaint for divorce is deemed the “plaintiff” in the matter, and the other spouse the “defendant”. Jurisdictional rules require the plaintiff to be a resident of Ohio at least six months prior to the filing of the complaint, and a resident of the county where the complaint is filed for at least 90 days prior to the filing. The defendant, after being served with a complaint for divorce, has 28 days to file an answer to complaint admitting or denying the allegations therein. The defendant also has the right to file a “counterclaim” for divorce requesting the court grant him or her a divorce as well. If the defendant does not file an answer or counterclaim, the action is considered “non-contested” and the plaintiff must appear at court with at least one witness to testify as to why the court should grant a divorce and determine the allocation of property, assets, and parental rights, if applicable. If the defendant does file an answer or counterclaim, the action will be deemed “contested”, wherein the case will ultimately be set for trial for the court to determine and resolve all disputed issues based on evidence presented, unless the parties can reach settlement of all issues in the meantime.

Contact Cavinder Law Office and divorce attorney Jason Cavinder now if you or your spouse is considering a divorce or dissolution. The consultation is free and confidential. Or, if you simply have questions pertaining to the area of divorce or dissolution, our office is ready to help. We can be reached by telephone at (937) 751-4949, or by email at Jason@CavinderLaw.com.

DISSOLUTION

A dissolution, if feasible between the parties, is most times the quickest, easiest, cheapest, and least contemptuous way to procure the legal dissolution or termination of a marriage. A dissolution has the same exact legal effect as a divorce. The only difference from a divorce is that the parties are, in advance of the filing of a petition, in mutual agreement to all terms of the separation, including division of property, assets, and debts; parental rights and responsibilities (custody) of the children, if any; spousal and or child support, if applicable; and pensions and or retirements. This is arguably the best way to legally terminate a marriage, presuming the parties can reach an advanced agreement. A dissolution is initiated when a joint petition is filed by the parties with the Domestic Relations Court in the county of residence.

Jurisdictional rules require that at least one spouse be a resident of the State of Ohio for at least six months prior to filing a petition for dissolution of marriage. Once the petition is filed, the Court will schedule a hearing on the petition not earlier than 30 days and not later than 90 days after the filing of the petition. Both parties are required to attend the dissolution hearing, which is usually very brief. The Court will inquire to both parties that they have read, understood, and agree to the separation agreement presented to the Court, and typically will, unless the terms are manifestly unfair, unjust, or overtly inequitable, affirm and order the dissolution of your marriage pursuant to the terms in the separation agreement and shared parenting plan, if such plan is applicable to your particular situation.

Contact Cavinder Law Office and divorce attorney Jason Cavinder now if you or your spouse is considering a dissolution. Even if not yet in agreement with your spouse as to the terms of a divorce, we can help assist in fashioning a proposal to dissolve the marriage amicably and without dispute. The consultation is free and confidential. Or, if you simply have questions pertaining to the area of divorce or dissolution, our office is ready to help. We can be reached by telephone at (937) 751-4949, or by email at Jason@CavinderLaw.com.

CUSTODY

“Custody” refers loosely to the arrangement for the physical and legal possession of the child(ren). It takes two main shapes: 1) “sole residential custody”, and 2) “shared parenting”. There is a misconception that sole residential custody and shared parenting designate the amount of time spent with child(ren) by each parent. This is incorrect. What the two ideas do is define the legal rights of each parent as it pertains to the children. The amount of time under either concept can be as agreed between the parties as they so desire, or ordered by the court as it deems appropriate and in the best interest of child(dren). There are no hard and fast “rules” as to how much time each parent may have with the child(dren). A brief description of both is outline below:

  • SOLE RESIDENTIAL CUSTODY:
    • One parent receives the parental rights and responsibilities for the care and custody of the child. This parent is designated the residential and custodial parent of the child. It gives to that parent the primary right to make educational, medical, and religious decisions for the child. The other parent, deemed the “non-custodial parent” will likely be responsible for providing financial support for the child, (“child support”, determined by several factors in the Ohio Revised Code), and is entitled to a set amount of “parenting time” with the child, (the amount of which is determined on a case-by-case basis), which is not to be interfered with by the custodial parent.
  • Shared Parenting:
    • Both parents share in the parental rights and responsibilities of the child, or, put another way, both are entitled to decision-making authority over important aspects of the child’s life. A shared parenting arrangement usually requires that the parents have an amicably-working relationship that facilitates cooperation for the child. Again, each parent is entitled to parenting time that is decided on a case-by case basis, either by agreement or court order. Note, another misconception is that shared parenting alleviates the requirement of child support. This is not so. Child support under a shared parenting plan is still ordered pursuant to statutory guidelines, unless otherwise agreed. One parent in a shared parenting plan must be designated as “residential parent” for school purposes.

Child custody issues arise in a few main ways. Either a marriage is in the throes of divorce which necessitates allocation of parental rights and responsibilities of the child(dren) between the parties; an unwed couple who have a child(ren) separate and cannot agree on custody arrangements which necessitates a determination from the Court; or, a third party, whether it be a relative or Children’s Services seeks to take custody of the child(ren) based on an allegation that the parent(s) is unfit or unable to appropriately care for the child(ren).

If the custody dispute is precipitated by divorce, the Court is required to treat each parent equally in their arguments for what is in the best interest of the child. In other words, there is no “advantage” to the mother solely because she is the mother, contrary to popular misconceptions.

If the custody dispute involves unwed parents, the mother is considered the “sole and residential custodian” of the child(ren) unless and until the father establishes paternity. Once the father is established as the “legal” father through establishment of paternity, the law requires the court to treat both the mother and father on “equal footing” in a custody dispute.

The aforementioned should be qualified with the fact that all Ohio Courts are bound to make these determinations based on what is in the “Best Interests” of the child(ren). The “bests interests” of a child is a very fact-sensitive issue and varies greatly from case to case. The court will consider testimony and other evidence by both parties in determining allocating parental rights and responsibilities. Note that custody orders, while designed to be permanent in nature, can always be changed or modified if there is a requisite showing a “change in circumstances” necessitating a change or modification to ensure the best interests of the child(ren).

Contact Cavinder Law Office and custody attorney Jason Cavinder now if you or a loved one is facing a custody issue; we can help guide you through the legal and personal hurdles that accompany such litigation, and prepare your case so that you have the best chance at receiving a favorable outcome. The consultation is free and confidential. Or, if you simply have questions pertaining to the area of child custody, our office is ready to help. We can be reached by telephone at (937) 751-4949, or by email at Jason@CavinderLaw.com.

CHILD SUPPORT

Separating or divorcing parents may disagree on many issues, and child support is sometimes no exception. The law is clear though in its intent to provide financially for the needs of the child, and with few exceptions, both parents are deemed responsible for those needs. If the parents cannot mutually agree on the issue of child support, to what extent each parent fulfills that duty is determined by statutory guidelines in the Ohio Revised Code. (See generally, R.C. §3119). Child Support is paid by the Obligor to the Child Support Enforcement Agency, (CSEA), who distributes the support award to the Obligee.

Child support is calculated by numerous factors, including, but not limited to:

  • The number of children born of the relationship
  • The gross income of each parent
  • Who provides health insurance for the child(ren) and the medical needs of the child(dren)
  • Child care expenses
  • Spousal Support, if any
  • Number of children of each parent outside of the relationship for whom support is paid.

Whether you are the custodial or noncustodial parent, or if you are engaging in a shared parenting plan, it is important that you ensure that the calculations are made correctly so that you are protected from unfairness. As with most issues in family law, child support can be a challenging, confusing, and frustrating issue for all involved.

Contact Cavinder Law Office and support attorney Jason Cavinder to assist you with all of the legal details involved in determining child support, including complex issues such as “imputation of income” and “deviation”. We can assess your unique situation and provide you with answers. The consultation is free and confidential. Or, if you simply have questions relating to child support issues, we are ready to help. We can be reached by telephone at (937) 751-4949, or by email at Jason@CavinderLaw.com.

SPOUSAL SUPPORT

Spousal support, formerly known as “alimony”, refers to payments made from one spouse to the other during and or after the divorce. Either spouse can be ordered to pay support to the other; the award of spousal support is based on factors such as income discrepancy, length of the marriage, need of the lower-income spouse, and lifestyle acclimation.

There are no hard and fast guidelines in Ohio as to whether spousal support should be ordered, and if so, how much. It is a very grey area that often times becomes a point of contention in a divorce for that very reason; it is abstract and the law provides no black and white guidance. The courts are guided by §3105.18 of the Ohio Revised Code in deciding whether or not to award spousal support, and delineates fourteen factors for consideration, (see the statute here).

A spousal support order can be a temporary order to last through the pendency of the action, and or a more permanent order to last for a set duration after the case is over. It all depends on the unique circumstances of the particular case. Spousal support can be modified, (if the court retains jurisdiction over the issue), or terminated based on “changes in circumstances”.

Generally speaking, the following non-exclusive factors are helpful in determining a spousal support award, if any, and are relied on by the court in making its determinations:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The discrepancy in income between the parties
  • The sacrifice of one spouse to either raise the family, forego a career, or helping the other spouse with his or her career
  • Health issues or disability of a spouse
  • The requesting spouse’s standard of living prior to the divorce
  • The level of education of the spouses and earning capability of both spouses
  • Any fact the Court finds to be relevant and equitable

Contact Cavinder Law Office and support attorney Jason Cavinder now if you have questions about spousal support. We can assess your unique situation and provide you with answers. The consultation is free and confidential. Or, if you simply have questions relating to the topic of spousal support, we are ready to help. We can be reached by telephone at (937) 751-4949, or by email at Jason@CavinderLaw.com.

PATERNITY

Unlike married parents, if the parents to a child or children were never married at the time the child(ren) were born, then there is no presumption that the male is the “legal” father. While the male may in fact be the “biological” father to the child, the law affords him no parental rights until he is established as the “legal” father. Or, in other words, until he establishes “paternity”. Until paternity is establishes by the putative father, the father will have no legal right to parenting time with the child, nor will he have the obligation to pay child support. Even once paternity is established, the mother remains the “sole residential custodian of the child”, and the father may still need to procure a court order granting him parenting time and or custody.

Paternity is establishes by one of the following ways:

  • Presumption of Paternity, §3111.03: The father is presumed to be the legal father if the child was born during marriage to the mother, or within 300 days of termination of the marriage or separation.
  • Paternity Established at or near Time of Birth, §3111.21—28: The father establishes his paternity at the time of birth by signing the “Acknowledgement of Paternity” affidavit and mailing to the Centralized Paternity Registry.
  • Paternity Established Administratively, §3111.38—53: Paternity can be administratively established through the Child Support Enforcement Agency in the county where the parent resides by request of either party.
  • Paternity Established through Juvenile Court: If paternity is not established in one of the above ways, either party can file with the juvenile court in the county where they reside a “Complaint for Paternity”, wherein the parties will either acknowledge paternity or be ordered to submit to DNA tests to determine paternity.

Whether you are a mother seeking to establish paternity in order to seek child support, or a father seeking to exercise your parental rights, Contact Cavinder Law Office and paternity attorney Jason Cavinder to assist you. We can assess your unique situation and provide you with answers. The consultation is free and confidential. Or, if you simply have questions relating to issues of paternity, we are ready to help. We can be reached by telephone at (937) 751-4949, or by email at Jason@CavinderLaw.com.

POST-DECREE and MODIFICATION ISSUES

If you or your family has already been to Court and received orders establishing custody, parenting time, and or support, circumstances are always subject to change, allowing for changes or modifications of those orders, or a party to the order fails to comply with an order or orders made by the Court.

The following is a non-exclusive list of post-decree or modification issues you may face:

  • Motions to Show Cause, (also known as “Contempt”): If you believe that the other party is not complying with the terms of a Court Order, then you may consider filing a motion to show cause, (i.e. “contempt”), which requests the Court to find that party in contempt and enforce the court order. Conversely, you may be in need of competent counsel to defend you against allegations of contempt being made against you. If contempt is found by the Court, the party found in contempt may face severe consequences, including attorney’s fees, fines and court costs, and even incarceration.
  • Motions to Modify or Terminate a Shared Parenting Plan, Custody, or Parenting Time: A party may file a motion with the Court requesting a change in the current custody arrangement of the chil(dren) when there exists a change in circumstances and a change in the current order would be in the child’s best interests. There is no concrete guidance as to what amounts to the requisite “change in circumstances” to substantiate a change in custody or parenting time and thus results in a very litigious issue; consulting an experienced attorney regarding your particular situation, whichever side of the case you are on, is crucial to protect your rights and interests.
  • Motions to Modify Spousal or Child Support: A party may file a motion the Court requesting an increase or decrease of child support of spousal support when there exists a change in circumstances to either parties’ financial situation. This change must be “substantial”, which, in other words, should account for at least a 10% deviation from the initial support order. Again, this is a very grey and thus litigious area, and consulting an experienced attorney regarding your particular situation, which side of the case you are on, crucial to protect your rights and interests.

It is important to retain a competent and zealous attorney to aid you through this process in order to achieve the most just results for you. Whether you are seeking to change the terms of a current court order, of defending against a motion filed to change terms unfavorably for you, contact Cavinder Law Office and family law attorney Jason Cavinder now if you or a loved one is dealing with these issues. We can help guide you through the legal and personal hurdles that accompany such litigation, and prepare your case so that you have the best chance at receiving a favorable outcome. The consultation is free and confidential. Or, if you simply have questions pertaining to the area of modification of court orders, our office is ready to help. We can be reached by telephone at (937) 751-4949, or by email at Jason@CavinderLaw.com.