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Columbus, Ohio, Family Law Blog

Child custody when a child is born out of wedlock

It is becoming increasingly common in Ohio and in other states for children to be born to unwed parents. Across the United States, approximately 40 percent of children are born to unwed parents compared to 17 percent in 2007. In many cases, the father's name is not on the birth certificate. This can create questions for parents regarding custody issues.

A birth certificate is a record of a child's birth but does not establish paternity. In some states, it is presumed that the mother has sole custody if the parents were unmarried at the time the child was born; in other states, the mother is presumed only to have initial custody.

Co-parenting lessons that may make post-divorce life easier

Getting a divorce in Ohio doesn't always mean an end to certain joint responsibilities, especially if children are involved. Unless there are issues with domestic violence or substance abuse, the inclination of the courts is to keep both parents involved in a child's life. For this reason, the most common piece of advice given to ex-spouses is to keep the focus on the best interests of the child. This typically means urging parents not to badmouth or belittle their ex or make children feel as if they have to take sides.

If minor issues with custody arise or general disagreements occur, it can be helpful for a parent to walk away before responding to remove some of the emotion from the moment and avoid saying things that may make the situation worse. With family chores in each household, leveraging the strengths of each child and being consistent with responsibilities may minimize conflicts and create a sense of structure. Divorced parents are also encouraged to establish boundaries and say "no" when appropriate to avoid over-indulging a child out a sense of guilt.

Going to court for child custody

Ohio parents who must attend child custody hearings may be confused or even intimidated by the process. That's why it's important to be well-prepared and ready to present a case to support the parent-child relationship. By understanding a few things about court hearings for custody, a parent can help to present themselves well to the judge in the case.

Preparation is critical to making a positive impression at a child custody hearing. To that end, a parent should be dressed appropriately and ready to make an argument for how well they raise their children. While dressing a certain way might say little about a parent's love for their kids or ability to provide a good home, wearing conservative, businesslike clothes can help to show respect for the occasion and the rulings of the court. In addition, a family law attorney can work with a parent to prepare arguments and answers to certain probable questions. Parents may need to show that they have an appropriate living space for their children or that childcare is lined up after school.

Get legal custody of kids already in your care

There is no doubt that the nation's opioid crisis has hit Ohio hard. As a result of a generation of young people addicted to — and in some cases, dying from — heroin and opiate-based pain pills, many grandparents have been forced into the role of full-time caregivers for their grandchildren.

There are even great-grandparents rearing young children when their parents' addictions to drugs render them unfit. While it once might have been a rare occasion to have a relative 65 and over taking full charge of babies, toddlers and older kids left parentless due to drug abuse, it's sadly become the norm in many families.

Divorce raises questions about real estate and retirement funds

When an Ohio couple ends their marriage, the divorce process will force spouses to divide all of their marital property and assets. Although many variables could influence the division of property, including the law, spouses have some leeway when negotiating their settlements. In some situations, two parties might exchange assets of similar value instead of splitting them. Before making decisions like these, people should carefully consider potential tax obligations and unexpected expenses.

Real estate generally includes a marital home and perhaps other assets like vacation houses or commercial properties. A person giving up portions of the marital estate in order to keep a home needs to know if a single income can sustain the mortgage payments. Additionally, an ex-spouse who signs away a home might still have legal liability for the loan if both spouses originally signed for the loan. When spouses decide to sell a property and split the proceeds, they need to decide who will pay the taxes and upkeep on the house until it is purchased.

How child support determinations are made

Ohio parents who separate or divorce may find themselves suddenly involved in the child support system. However, despite the prevalence of child support, many people know little about how it works. Each year, August marks Child Support Awareness Month, which is meant to spread information about the financial responsibilities of noncustodial parents to their children.

Sometimes child support orders are established during a divorce, but they can also be created in a separate action. In any case, the parent-child relationship must be established before a child support order is put in place. Maternity is determined by records of the mother giving birth to the child while paternity can be established in several different ways. The husband of a married woman at the time of childbirth is presumptively the father, and an unmarried father can voluntarily sign an acknowledgment of paternity affidavit. If paternity is in doubt, however, the parents may seek out DNA testing to determine whether a certain person is the father.

The different types of child support cases

Ohio parents who are new to paying or receiving child support payments may find the process a bit confusing. For instance, some noncustodial parents make child support payments directly to the custodial parent, while other parents pay their support directly to the state. The structure of the payment plan depends on the type of child support case a parent has.

There are four types of child support classifications: IV-D, IV-A, IV-E and non-IV-D. In IV-D cases, the Office of Child Support Enforcement is helping the custodial parent obtain child support in some way. Examples of this help could include establishing paternity, tracking down the noncustodial parent or issuing and enforcing a child support order. In IV-A cases, the state is providing public assistance to the custodial parent. As a result, the case will be automatically forwarded to the Office of Child Support Enforcement, which will attempt to collect support payments from the noncustodial parent.

Managing retirement funds after a 'gray divorce'

Throughout Ohio and the rest of America, divorce among older couples has been on a consistent rise. Dubbed "gray divorce," marital splits between Americans over 50 have grown 20 percent since the 1990s. This trend is continuing upward even as divorce rates remain flat or decline among other demographic groups. The financial repercussions of a later-in-life divorce can be significant, especially when it comes to retirement savings and property division.

Many older couples who have been together over the years have accumulated substantial funds and investments. Therefore, the end of such a marriage can be a high-asset divorce that requires elaborate accounting. Even for less wealthy couples, retirement funds can be large and spread across multiple accounts. In addition, the division of retirement funds is more complex than simply coming to an agreement between the divorcing spouses. Even when both parties are amicable and have agreed on how to divide the funds, failure to follow proper procedures could lead to a massive tax bill or other penalties and fines.

What happens if you both want the house in an Ohio divorce?

When you bought your home with your spouse, you probably never thought about what would happen in the event of a divorce. Most couples picture themselves living out their lives together in the same home or at least moving together to the next place when the time is right. People don't generally buy a home with someone they don't picture a future with.

Unfortunately, life has a way of messing with our intentions. Whether you simply grew apart from your spouse, or something major, like an affair, led to your divorce, now you have to figure out what to do with your home.

Going through a divorce without feeling like a loser

During a divorce, an Ohio couple may find themselves completely at odds when it comes to reaching a settlement. This can be especially true if the divorce is not amicable. Ultimately, most former couples walk away thinking that their ex-spouse "won," even though this generally is not the case.

When couples are going through a divorce, the former spouses will have to split finite resources regardless of the income bracket they are in. A divorce means that all marital assets may be split, so former spouses will have to be more financially aware than they were before starting the separation process. This can make both individuals feel like they are losing quite a bit, especially if they end up having to sell the family home or determine who gets which pieces of property that cannot be split.

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