At RKPT we help clients navigate the often emotional legal proceedings that revolve around domestic relations matters. We have a deep understanding of how difficult and stressful these times can be and we are dedicated to lessening your burden by providing thoughtful, detailed advice with compassion and responsiveness. We take time to listen to you, address your concerns, and explore your various options. Effective problem solvers, we strive to meet our clients’ family law needs with solutions that are personalized, practical, and creative.
Our family law practice handles a wide array of matters, including divorce, dissolution, spousal support, child custody, child support, adoption, paternity suits, and prenuptial and cohabitation agreements. We have obtained favorable outcomes for clients in numerous family law proceedings, many of which involved complex accounting, tax, financial planning, employment benefits, and child custody issues. Should a trial be necessary, our skilled litigators stand ready to step in to advocate on your behalf and ensure that your rights are protected.
We believe strongly in using a collaborative law process to resolve disputes whenever children are involved, and encourage our clients to use this problem-solving approach or other alternative dispute resolution methods. Our experienced family law attorneys will guide you through whatever challenge you are facing, keeping you well informed every step of the way.
Family Law Services
A divorce is a civil lawsuit to end a marriage. The parties to a divorce ask the court to make final decisions concerning property division, spousal support, and matters regarding minor children. Most divorce cases are eventually settled by agreement. A proposed divorce decree is prepared, signed by the parties, and submitted to the court for approval. After a short hearing, the agreement is approved by the judge and becomes a court order. If the parties cannot resolve all of their disputed issues, evidence is presented in a contested trial, and then the judge or magistrate issues a decision.
As opposed to a divorce, the parties to a dissolution mutually agree to end their marriage. Neither spouse must prove grounds to end a marriage by dissolution. A petition is jointly filed after the spouses have signed a separation agreement (and shared parenting plan where appropriate) regarding all property, spousal support, and any child-related issues.
Within 30 to 90 days of the filing of the petition, the court will hold a hearing in which it will review the parties’ agreements; ask about the assets and liabilities and any parenting issues; and determine whether the parties understand and are satisfied with the settlement. If the court is satisfied that the parties agree and wish to end their marriage, the court will grant a dissolution and make their agreements part of the court’s orders.
In awarding spousal support (once referred to as “alimony”), Ohio courts may consider 13 specific factors, including the ages, earning ability and health of the parties, the length of the marriage, and the standard of living during the marriage. In some circumstances, if there is a change in circumstances after the court issues its order, such as an increase or involuntary decrease in one party’s wages, salary, bonuses, living expenses, or medical expenses, the court may be able to consider a modification of spousal support.
Under Ohio law, parenting time refers to the time parents spend with their children. In a contested action involving children the court will order a specific schedule for parenting time. The primary consideration is the best interests of the child, and the court will look at certain factors, including:
- The emotional ties between the child and other family members
- The interest of the parents in and attitude toward the child
- The desirability of continuing an existing relationship
- The abuse of one parent by the other
- The preference for the primary caregiver of the child, if the caregiver is deemed fit by the court
- The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child
Parents can avoid taking child custody disputes to court if they can reach an agreement. If both parents share responsibilities, a shared parenting plan may be drafted and filed with the court in lieu of an order for sole custody by one parent.
Ohio courts will calculate child support under certain specific guidelines. The law sets basic support schedules that are used to determine the amount of child support, based on the number of children and the combined gross income of the parents, as well as other factors and/or credits. The support schedules are based on the average cost of raising children in households across a wide income range.
Importantly, the court has discretion to deviate from the basic support tables when the calculated support is inequitable and not in the children’s best interest. The court will also issue orders for healthcare insurance and payment of any uninsured healthcare expenses for the children.
Ohio recognizes several types of adoptions, including public agency, private or independent, private agency, step-parent and international. Each type of adoption has specific requirements, but all will involve undergoing home visits, interviews, and a background check. Family courts in different counties may have different procedures and requirements, and therefore, retaining an experienced adoption attorney is a necessity.
Paternity establishment is how a biological father becomes the legal father of his child if he and the mother are not married. Under Ohio law, paternity can be established in one of three ways:
- Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit
- Administrative Order of Paternity
- Court Order of Paternity
Under Ohio law, prenuptial agreements are called “antenuptial agreements.” To be valid, certain conditions must be met, including: it must be entered into without coercion, fraud, or duress; the terms must not encourage divorce; and there must have been a full disclosure of the nature and value of each spouse’s property.
Couples who do not intend to marry may use cohabitation agreements to address the same issues (how property will be divided, etc.) should their relationship end.
Additional Family Law Resources