Can a 12 year old choose where they want to live?           

Can a 12 year old chose with which parent they want to live?  It is one of the most common questions we are asked by the public.  The answer is no, but their voice and wishes will be considered.  Ohio’s law that authorized a child to choose once they reached the age of 12 has been repealed for more than 20 years now.  Our Courts have the authority to consider any child’s comments, whether the child is 5 or 15 years old.  However, the child’s demands or desires are only one piece of evidence among many that the Court will ultimately consider to determine what is in the best interest of the child.

How does the Court calculate child support?

Child support in Ohio is calculated according to the Child Support Statutory Guidelines Worksheet.  However, it is not necessarily as simple as plugging in numbers to a formula.  There are many factors and issues that can be considered just to determine each parent’s income.  Full-time or part-time hours, under-employment, bonuses, commissions, overtime and other forms of compensation can be points to argue when calculating child support.  In addition, certain costs related to health insurance and child care / daycare are also relevant to the child support worksheet.  Once the child support amount is calculated pursuant to the child support worksheet, then either party can seek a deviation from the worksheet, or guidelines, amount of child support.  The law in Ohio regarding deviations to child support permits the Courts to consider many more factors, including a spouse’ income, comparison of household expenses and resources, etc.

Does Shared Parenting mean no one pays child support?           

Does Shared Parenting, or Joint Custody, automatically mean no one pays child support?  The answer is no.  The issue of whether child support will be paid and how much is a very fact-specific question.  An allocation of “shared parenting” does not require the parenting time schedule with the child to be equal.  In fact, a Shared Parenting Plan can have any type of parenting time schedule that the parties, and/or the Court, determine is in the child’s best interest.  If the parties do have a parenting time schedule that is fairly equal between them and their incomes, and any other financial components are relatively equal, then it is more likely that the child support order would be reduced or possibly zero.

How does the Court determine how much time I have with my children?

Visitation, or parenting time, can be a challenging element of domestic law.  Most counties in Ohio have model parenting time guidelines which represent a starting place or typically the least minimum visitation any non-possessory parent should receive.  However, the factors that the Court considers in determining what schedule is in the child’s best interest are many.  Logistics can be very influential, for example, the driving time distance from the non-possessory parent’s home and the child’s school can be very relevant to whether the non-possessory parent would be granted overnight parenting time during weekdays or school days.

What if after my divorce I want to change the custody terms regarding my children?

All terms related to the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities and custody can be changed or modified by the Court at any time until the children are eighteen years old and possibly longer depending on the original custody terms.  There are many facts the Court will consider to decide if the change of custody terms are in the best interest of the children.  It is best to seek the advice of an experienced attorney about the specific circumstances surrounding the changes you are seeking.

What happens if my ex falls behind in paying child support?

Both the Court and the Child Support Enforcement Agency have several methods to collect delinquent child support, including contempt, jail time, attachment of IRS tax refunds and suspension of Drivers’ License as well as other licenses.  It is best to seek the advice of an experienced attorney about the collection method that is most likely to be successful for you and your children.

How does the Court divide marital property?

There are many factors the Court considers, including the length of the marriage, property interest owned before the marriage, value of the property and the tax effects of the property to be awarded to each party.

Do I have any claim to my spouse’s business?

A spouse’s business can generally be treated by the Court as marital property if it was started during the marriage or if income earned during the marriage is invested in the business.  It is best to seek the advice of an experienced attorney to help you navigate this relatively complicated issue in a contested divorce.

Can I keep my retirement and my spouse keep his or hers?

Retirement earned during the marriage is typically marital property unless there are any separate property factors to be considered.  It does not matter if the retirement is only in one spouse’ name.  The retirement assets to be divided by the Court can be in the form of 401(k), IRA, Retirement Savings, Pension, Annuity, STRS, PERS, SERS, Ohio Police and Fireman’s Fund, Thrift Savings Plan, FERS, Military Pension, National Guard Retirement, Labor Union Retirement Plans, Social Security and others.  The parties can attempt to settle a case with an agreement that each would keep their own retirement; whether the Court will approve their settlement depends on several factors.   It is best to seek the advice of an experienced attorney to be fully informed on how the Court would both value and allocate retirement benefits.