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Dayton Divorce Law Blog

More on the "best interests" of the child in Ohio

Last week, we were looking at the statutory factors that Ohio courts consider when determine the best interests of a child in a child custody hearing or for purposes of a modification of an existing child custody order.

As we noted, these factors are not all inclusive, and judges can consider other factors. However, in any proceeding, if one of these factors was ignored or not appropriately considered, it could provide a potentially compelling argument to appeal a child custody order.

What do you mean by "best interests" of a child?

In Ohio, as most states, during and after a divorce involving parents, matters of child custody are to be decided in light of the "best interests of the child" standard. Sounds simple enough.

The Ohio statute section dealing with this issue is rather lengthy, and the part that lists the factors that are used to help the court determine the best interests for child custody questions is broken up in to ten subsections. The statute notes that the court should consider all "relevant" factors, and the ten subsections listed are not the only relevant factors.

Goodwill hunting during a divorce: is it personal or enterprise?

One of the more complex elements of a property division during a divorce in Ohio comes when one of the assets is a business owned by one or both of the parties. While ownership of bank accounts or stocks are comparatively easy to value, determinations of value of entities which may not have any publically traded stock, may not be subject to public company reporting requirements and may have a limited market for their stock, is much more difficult.

Nonetheless, it essential to arrive at an accurate valuation, as the business may contain the majority of the marital assets for the couple and appraising the value of the entity is necessary to obtain an equitable property division.

Divorce found high on the list of adverse childhood experiences

Yet another study has connected divorce with poor outcomes for children as they grow and become adults. It tracked "adverse childhood experiences" (ACE), which included everything from poverty and divorce to living with a parent who is a drug addict. It found that these children have more problems in school and are more likely to engage in violent or anti social behavior.

The report examined exposure to eight ACEs, which included "divorce; economic hardship; lived with anyone who was an alcoholic or drug addict; lived with a parent who died; lived with a parent who spent time in jail; lived with anyone who was mentally ill; been the victim of or witness to violence in the neighborhood; or witnessed domestic violence."

Perspective during a divorce

Perspective. An important, but difficult concept during a divorce. When you are involved in the emotional turmoil of a divorce, seeing the world through any other eyes than those of a stressed and emotionally upset individual is difficult. After all, if you were getting along with your spouse, you would not be looking for a divorce.

Divorce will change everything about your life, and it is important during the divorce to attempt to step into the shoes you will be wearing in a year or two, and not those from five years ago. Your property division, child support and spousal support will forever alter your finances, so assumptions that were valid in the past may no longer hold.

Tips for parents when breaking divorce news to children

Whether a marriage ends after years or months of therapy or suddenly after the discovery of a spouse's affair, when a shared child is involved, both spouses must pledge to be mature and put the best interests of a child first and foremost. One of the first necessary, yet painful, steps in this process is breaking news of a divorce to a child.

When discussing plans to divorce with a child, it's best when both parents are present. Being able to sit down together to explain plans and answer questions about anticipated changes helps ensure both parents are on the same page and aware of the challenges that may lay ahead. While conversations can be tailored to a child's age, it's best to provide a simple explanation for the divorce.

Divorce and finances: How debt can cause problems

Couples going through divorce are dealing with a wide array of issues. From child support and custody determinations to dividing property, these issues can seem overwhelming during an already difficult period in your life. However, it is important that those going through this process take a step back from the emotional turmoil and recognize that careful planning is required. A divorce could lead to financial havoc if the right steps are not taken to divide property wisely.

One area that may be overlooked is the role that debts play in the property division determination. In most cases, how debts are split does not matter to creditors since creditors are generally not legally obligated to follow the guidelines set out in divorce paperwork. Essentially, this means that if you and an ex spouse are joint account holders of a credit card or mortgage, the creditor could go after either of you for payment - regardless of what the divorce paperwork says.

Dividing property in high asset divorce requires focused resolve

In Ohio and everywhere else, there are generally some common issues relating to the division of marital property during a divorce that can be problematic. According to the president emeritus of the Association of Divorce Financial Planners, individuals in a high asset divorce should look out for these red flags. The individual should also make sure that all decisions are ultimately reviewed and approved by a divorce financial planner and one’s divorce attorney.

Remember that dividing the marital assets is a one-shot proposition that generally cannot be undone. Appealing a property settlement agreement or a decision by the judge will be a low-percentage proposition. Such appeals need hard evidence of intentional and substantial fraud and/or lack of disclosure of assets.

Do you need a postnuptial for your pet?

Divorce is about a lot of things. It is about two people who no longer can live together. It can be about how a couple will raise their children. In can be about infidelity, betrayal and loss of trust. And it can be about who gets custody of Rover. While custody disputes typically involve the children of the couple, with growing regularity, pets are becoming a focal point in many divorces.

Especially with childless couples, or perhaps where the children are now adults, and child custody orders are no longer needed. But like a dog with a bone, some couples need something to serve as a proxy for the emotional struggle that often plays out in divorce. The energy they would have reserved for a child custody dispute is transferred to a struggle to obtain or prevent the other party from obtaining custody of a pet.

Asset division in a divorce may be more complex than anticipated

Practice makes perfect, so the old saying goes. While divorce is not something most Ohio residents would want to "practice" at, their lack of experience with many elements of a divorce means they cannot bring practical experience to deal with an issue. This is one reason you hire an attorney. Not only do they know the law, but they have experience with a broad spectrum of situations that develop and can help clients with them.

When it comes to the division of marital property, one of the more complex areas is valuation of assets. Part of the complexity derives from the presence of potential taxes. A 401k, a mutual fund and a family home are all financial assets of the marital estate, but they may produce very different tax treatments when they are liquidated.