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Turning Points Blog

A family law blog about tying and untying knots and other common threads


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What do you think about when you think about divorce?

Posted November 2009. Filed under Divorce & Dissolution

When the end of a marriage appears inevitable, it can be hard to keep a cool head. On top of that, most people have no reason to know in advance what needs to be done, when, and exactly how. So here’s some knowledge that can help you get organized:

The nuts and bolts. When you file for divorce or request a dissolution, the court expects two things: 1) you have been an Ohio resident for at least six months before you file, and 2) you have been a resident of the county in which you’re filing for at least 90 days.

The documents. You will need them for the attorney you choose to represent you or, if you represent yourself, the court that will hear your case. Here’s what you need: 1) all documents concerning your marriage such as your marriage license; 2) birth certificates of children born to you and your spouse; 3) all information about your property such as copies of deeds, financing statements, lists of personal property and the like; 4) all information relevant to employment, such as your and/or your spouse’s employer, past w-2’s and tax returns, records of education and training; and 5) copies of all of your most recent bills whether they are for household utilities or credit cards, whether they are in your name or your spouse’s.

The main topics. No matter how you end your marriage, the law requires decisions on three things: 1) how to divide property; 2) who is responsible for what debts; and 3) whether a spouse requires support. If you have children, add 4) how to allocate parental rights and responsibilities; and 5) determining child support. Expect to face these questions. Every dissolution or divorce spells out solutions, whether the parties agree in advance or they argue their cases and the court writes an order.

The children. For many divorcing couples, children are the single most important concern. From early on, try to think about how you and your spouse can go about preserving the family, including helping your children to understand that their family is still two-parents strong. Many people find it beneficial to get the services of a professional who knows about parenting plans. Their experience can bring additional insight into all of the possible problems you and your children may run into as well as good ideas for resolving them.

The budget. Go through the exercise of creating two budgets. Base one on the past experience of your family. Base the other on what you see as the future living conditions of each of the parties. If you want to be taken seriously by the court (not to mention your spouse), you must show that you have considered realistically not only your own needs and those of your children but also the needs of the other party. Also, it’s good to understand in advance the court’s usual view: if there has to be a lower standard of living, it will be shared to some degree by both parties.

The discussion. Once you have thought through the items above, consider whether you and your spouse will be able to discuss the important things: division of marital property, allocation of parental rights between you, and child and spousal support. If you are able to agree on any or all of these matters before you begin or early on in the process, you are likely to reduce the difficulty of ending your marriage.

To respond: blog@tmc-law.net.  
 
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