Category: Family Law

APPLICATION FOR CUSTODY PROCESS

In the State of Ohio if a child is born outside of wedlock custody is automatically given to the mother. 3109.042. The Father can obtain parenting rights by filing an application for custody with the Juvenile Court.

STEP ONE – INITIAL CONSULTATION – At the initial consultation we will review the situation and try to determine what is the best situation for the client and the child. We will decide whether we want to obtain full custody rights, a shared parenting plan, or merely obtain parenting time rights wpeugk4. We also need to know whether there is already a court order for custody and if so, then decide if a modification of custody is warranted. This is also an opportunity to ask any questions about the process. There is no fee for the initial consultation.

STEP TWO – SIGNING CONSULTATION – We will prepare an application for custody, a parenting affidavit, and if the other parent is in agreement a parenting plan and waiver of service. I will ask for the initial fee and court costs at this time. I will also need 1) birth certificate of child, 2) proof of parentage (child support order or acknowledgment of paternity), and either the social security number of the child or acknowledgment that you do not possess the social security number.

STEP THREE – CASE FILING – The case is filed to the juvenile court. The Court will attempt service on the other parent through certified mail. If the other parent does not pick up the service the court will inform me and I will inform the court to service by regular mail. As long as that is not returned service is perfected. Nothing can happen in the case until service is perfected.

STEP FOUR – MEDIATION – This step does not happen in every case, but it is common in Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court if there is not an emergency. The court will attempt to mediate a custody agreement through their mediation services. Both parents attend. Attorneys are not permitted to participate. The goal of the court is to try to obtain a shared parenting plan without the expense of going through the full litigation situation. While you must attend, you are not required to come to an agreement. If the parties do come to an agreement then the parenting plan is submitted to the court and become the final order. If the parties do not agree then the case will go before a magistrate or judge in the juvenile court.

STEP FIVE – PRETRIAL – The Court will hold one or more hearings to see if the parties, with counsel, can come to an agreement with regards to parenting time. The court may also address other issues that occur in the case. Typically, the judge or magistrate with talk with counsel and non-represent parents first and then bring in the represented parents. In disputed cases the court will typically assign a guardian ad litem to give an opinion what the best interest of the child are.

STEP SIX- DISCOVERY – While the pretrials are happening their will also be opportunity for discovery. This is the chance for the parties to gather information from the other side so that they can prepare their case. Formal discovery is done through interrogatories, depositions, admissions, and document requests. Another avenue in discovery is known as a subpoena. There can also be informal agreements to produce documents. If a party refuses to provide information that the law allows, then a party can ask for court intervention to obtain the information.

STEP SEVEN – TRIAL – If there is no agreement that comes out of the pretrial then the court will set up a trial date. At the trial we will be permitted to subpoena witnesses to testify on your behalf. You will also have an opportunity to testify. The attorney will also have an opportunity to cross-examine witnesses. All custody trials are bench trials and the magistrate or judge gets to decide the case. A guardian ad litem will also issue a report with a recommendation of custody.

STEP EIGHT – MAGISTRATE OPINION/ORDER/APPEAL – If the trial was heard by a magistrate, the magistrate will issue an opinion. If you do not agree with the opinion you can object and have a review hearing with the judge. When the objection period has passed (in most cases 14 days) the judge will adopt the magistrate opinion as an order. If the trial was heard by a judge, then an order will be issued. A party has the ability to appeal the decision within 30 days after the ruling on objects (in case of a magistrate heard case) or the order of the judge. This would begin the appeal’s process.

If there are any questions do not hesitate to contact us.

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BEGINNING DIVORCE PROCESS AND UNCONTESTED DIVORCE

STEP ONE – INITIAL CONSULTATION

WHERE – East Side Office – 22408 Lake Shore, Euclid, OH 44123 or West Side Office – 13326 Madison Avenue, Lakewood, OH 44107.

WHAT DO I BRING – Yourself, any Income Info you have, if you have a Child Support Order Bring that, and if you have a custody order with the juvenile court bring that.

WHAT ARE WE DOING AT THIS CONSULTATION – We are first going to determine if a divorce is the best way to terminate the marriage. We will talk about the various documents that can be prepared (separation agreement, petition, and perhaps the need of a shared parenting plan). We will also need to think about the possibility of a contested divorce and how that would likely pan out.

Fee – No, this is a free consultation and you are not obligated to go any further.

How Long – 30 Mins to 1 Hour

STEP TWO – DOCUMENT PREPARATION CONSULTATION

WHERE – East Side Office – 22408 Lake Shore, Euclid, OH 44123 or West Side Office – 13326 Madison Avenue, Lakewood, OH 44107.

WHAT DO I BRING – Documents that I indicated to you in your initial consultation.

Fee – The initial fee will be due at this time. Depending on whether the documents are signed in the office as well as other factors, the court cost may be due at this time.

How Long – 1 Hour

WHAT IS HAPPENING – We will be preparing paper work for the divorce. Depending on the nature of the case the documents may not need to be signed by your spouse, and in one case not even you. However, the fewer agreements we have signed the higher the chance that the case become a contested divorce. Regardless of the other documents that may be prepared in the case, all cases have a complaint that (unlike dissolution) must state a ground for divorce.

If there is paperwork prepared that needs to be signed by the opposing party (separation agreement or shared parenting plan) we will need to decide how to get that signed. The spouse could come into the office or I could mail it out to them. In some cases the client will take the papers to the other party. It all depends on the reaction expected from the spouse.

STEP FOUR – CASE FILED

WHAT IS HAPPENING – Once the documents are signed we file the case with the court. At this point, I would need the court costs if it was not done at the Document Preparation Consultation. I often file by mail, but I also sometimes personally file them. I will also give you information about how to follow your case online.

STEP FIVE – SERVICE

WHAT IS HAPPENING – You may of heard of due process rights. They are found in our Constitution. One of the processes that must be duly observed is the service of process. What that basically boils down to is that the other party must be officially notified of the divorce by the court. If there is no service, then the case cannot proceed. If it does without good service any order that is issued afterwards can be voided at anytime thereafter (and I have seen it down years after the fact).

There are several ways to handle service. The easiest way is have the spouse receive the paperwork personally and sign a notarized waiver of service. The typical way service is performed is the court sends a certified letter with the complaint to the spouse. If the spouse signs it service is complete. If he or she does not, then the court will notify me and I instruct the court to send it by regular mail. As long as the letter is not returned service is completed.

Less traditional methods are sometimes needed in some cases. There are situations where the certified letter is not returned to the court or the spouse is purposely evading service. At those points I may want to be appointed as a process server in the case and then directly hand it to them myself (you cannot legally do this because you are a party in the case). Other times, we do not know where the party is, despite our best efforts. In those cases we publish the fact that there is a divorce in a news paper (such as the Daily Legal News). After six weeks, the service is considered complete. For some people who cannot afford the ad, it may be posted in the court for six weeks.

Posted and Published service restricts what the court and do about property. Also it is easier to overturn if it could be shown that you could of found where the person was.

Service needs to be perfected in six months or the case can be dismissed. It is often the most difficult part of the case.

STEP SIX – ANSWER OR UNCONTESTED HEARING SET

WHEN – After the completion of service, the party has 28 days to answer the complaint for divorce. If the party does not answer the complaint, the court will set a default hearing. If service happened without a hitch this could be about 45-60 days after filing the complaint.

WHAT HAPPENS IF MY SPOUSE FILES AN ANSWER – The case becomes a contested divorce. Contested divorces are relatively complex and cannot be adequately explained here. A divorce will become a contested divorce even if the answer comes in after the 28 days (courts liberally grant leave to file)

If there is no answer, then prior to this hearing we will need to prepare a decree of divorce. Depending on the jurisdiction I will need to get the decree approved by the court prior to the hearing. It is during this time I might require some additional documents.

If there are children involved, the parties will have to do a parenting course before the court hearing date. Failure to do so may result in the hearing be rescheduled. An exception to this occurs if a defending spouse does not do the course and there is no shared parenting plan, then the court will allow the decree, but require the defending parent to take the course before they enforce visitation rights.

STEP SEVEN – HEARING

WHERE – (CUYAHOGA COUNTY) Old Court House – 1 Lakeside, Cleveland, OH 44113 and (LAKE COUNTY) Lake County Court House – 47 North Park Place, Painesville, Ohio 44077.

WHO MUST COME – ONLY THE CLIENT MUST COME, BUT IF THE DEFENDANT DOES NOT SHOW, THE CLIENT MUST PRODUCE A WITNESS THAT CAN TESTIFY TO GROUNDS. A court will not hear the case unless there is a witness or the defendant and there are no exceptions to this.

WHAT HAPPENS IF MY SPOUSE SHOWS UP AND REFUSES TO SIGN THE DECREE – Typically the court will attempt to get the parties to settle. If that does not work, the court will usually give the Defending party time to get an attorney to file an answer. If the party does not come back to the rescheduled hearing and fails to do this, then the court will usually proceed with the uncontested hearing.

WHAT HAPPENS – The attorneys or the judge will ask questions pertaining to the marriage and the the decree (which may also have a separation agreement). If the court is satisfied that both parties are in agreement and that the decree or separation agreement is fair just and equitable (and, if there are children, that the custody arrangement is in the best interest of the children), the court will grant the divorce. In some jurisdictions the court will process the papers there (Cuyahoga, for example) but in other courts they mail it to you (Lake County).

FEE – Typically after the hearing, and if there are no outstanding court costs, I would ask for the hearing fee. This is the last fee in the case.

If there are any questions about this process do not hesitate to contact me.

DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE PROCESS

STEP ONE – INITIAL CONSULTATION

WHERE – East Side Office – 22408 Lake Shore, Euclid, OH 44123 or West Side Office – 13326 Madison Avenue, Lakewood, OH 44107.

WHAT DO I BRING – Yourself, any Income Info you have, if you have a Child Support Order Bring that, and if you have a custody order with the juvenile court bring that.

WHAT ARE WE DOING AT THIS CONSULTATION – We are first going to determine if dissolution is the best way to terminate the marriage. We will talk about the various documents that need to be prepared (separation agreement, petition, and perhaps the need of a shared parenting plan).

Fee – No, this is a free consultation and you are not obligated to go any further.

How Long – 30 Mins to 1 Hour

STEP TWO – DOCUMENT PREPARATION CONSULTATION

WHERE – East Side Office – 22408 Lake Shore, Euclid, OH 44123 or West Side Office – 13326 Madison Avenue, Lakewood, OH 44107.

WHAT DO I BRING – Documents that I indicated to you in your initial consultation.

Fee – The initial fee will be due at this time. Depending on whether the documents are signed in the office as well as other factors, the court cost may be due at this time.

How Long – 1 Hour

STEP THREE – SIGNING DOCUMENTS

WHAT IS HAPPENING – In order for a dissolution to occur, both parties must sign the papers. One aspect of a dissolution is that the parties and not the court decide the outcome of the case. This implies that both parties agree, which means that both parties signed the documents. This is provided for in ORC 3105.63.

STEP FOUR – CASE FILED

WHAT IS HAPPENING – Once the documents are signed we file the case with the court. At this point, I would need the court costs if it was not done at the Document Preparation Consultation. I often file by mail, but I also sometimes personally file them. I will also give you information about how to follow your case online.

STEP FIVE – HEARING SET

WHEN – Under the statute the hearing must occur within 30-90 days of the filing. ORC 3105.64. Prior to this hearing we will need to prepare a decree of dissolution. Depending on the jurisdiction I will need to get the decree approved by the court prior to the hearing. It is during this time I might require some additional documents.

If there are children involved, the parties will have to do a parenting course before the court hearing date. Failure to do so may result in the hearing be rescheduled or the dissolution denied.

STEP SIX – HEARING

WHERE – (CUYAHOGA COUNTY) Old Court House – 1 Lakeside, Cleveland, OH 44113 and (LAKE COUNTY) Lake County Court House – 47 North Park Place, Painesville, Ohio 44077.

WHO MUST COME – BOTH THE HUSBAND AND WIFE must come to the hearing. There are no exception in a dissolution. Both parties must testify that they are satisfied with the separation agreement. ORC 3105.65(B).

WHAT HAPPENS – The attorneys ore the judge will ask questions pertaining to the marriage and the separation agreement. If the court is satisfied that both parties are in agreement and that the separation agreement is fair just an equitable (and, if there are children, that the custody arrangement is in the best interest of the children), the court will grant the dissolution. In some jurisdictions the court will process the papers there (Cuyahoga, for example) but in other courts they mail it to you (Lake County).

FEE – Typically after the hearing, and if there are no outstanding court costs, I would ask for the hearing fee. This is the last fee in the case.

If there are any questions about this process do not hesitate to contact me.

DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE PROCESS

STEP ONE – INITIAL CONSULTATION

WHERE – East Side Office – 22408 Lake Shore, Euclid, OH 44123 or West Side Office – 13326 Madison Avenue, Lakewood, OH 44107.

WHAT DO I BRING – Yourself, any Income Info you have, if you have a Child Support Order Bring that, and if you have a custody order with the juvenile court bring that.

WHAT ARE WE DOING AT THIS CONSULTATION – We are first going to determine if dissolution is the best way to terminate the marriage. We will talk about the various documents that need to be prepared (separation agreement, petition, and perhaps the need of a shared parenting plan).

Fee – No, this is a free consultation and you are not obligated to go any further.

How Long – 30 Mins to 1 Hour

STEP TWO – DOCUMENT PREPARATION CONSULTATION

WHERE – East Side Office – 22408 Lake Shore, Euclid, OH 44123 or West Side Office – 13326 Madison Avenue, Lakewood, OH 44107.

WHAT DO I BRING – Documents that I indicated to you in your initial consultation.

Fee – The initial fee will be due at this time. Depending on whether the documents are signed in the office as well as other factors, the court cost may be due at this time.

How Long – 1 Hour

STEP THREE – SIGNING DOCUMENTS

WHAT IS HAPPENING – In order for a dissolution to occur, both parties must sign the papers. One aspect of a dissolution is that the parties and not the court decide the outcome of the case. This implies that both parties agree, which means that both parties signed the documents. This is provided for in ORC 3105.63.

STEP FOUR – CASE FILED

WHAT IS HAPPENING – Once the documents are signed we file the case with the court. At this point, I would need the court costs if it was not done at the Document Preparation Consultation. I often file by mail, but I also sometimes personally file them. I will also give you information about how to follow your case online.

STEP FIVE – HEARING SET

WHEN – Under the statute the hearing must occur within 30-90 days of the filing. ORC 3105.64. Prior to this hearing we will need to prepare a decree of dissolution. Depending on the jurisdiction I will need to get the decree approved by the court prior to the hearing. It is during this time I might require some additional documents.

If there are children involved, the parties will have to do a parenting course before the court hearing date. Failure to do so may result in the hearing be rescheduled or the dissolution denied.

STEP SIX – HEARING

WHERE – (CUYAHOGA COUNTY) Old Court House – 1 Lakeside, Cleveland, OH 44113 and (LAKE COUNTY) Lake County Court House – 47 North Park Place, Painesville, Ohio 44077.

WHO MUST COME – BOTH THE HUSBAND AND WIFE must come to the hearing. There are no exception in a dissolution. Both parties must testify that they are satisfied with the separation agreement. ORC 3105.65(B).

WHAT HAPPENS – The attorneys ore the judge will ask questions pertaining to the marriage and the separation agreement. If the court is satisfied that both parties are in agreement and that the separation agreement is fair just an equitable (and, if there are children, that the custody arrangement is in the best interest of the children), the court will grant the dissolution. In some jurisdictions the court will process the papers there (Cuyahoga, for example) but in other courts they mail it to you (Lake County).

FEE – Typically after the hearing, and if there are no outstanding court costs, I would ask for the hearing fee. This is the last fee in the case.

If there are any questions about this process do not hesitate to contact me.