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Family and Domestic Law Attorneys Columbus, Ohio

The law office of George W. Leach serves clients in a broad range of family law issues, including divorce litigation, child custody matters, complex financial and property settlement issues, prenuptial agreements, post-decree modifications and paternity. Based in Columbus, our law office serves clients in Franklin and surrounding counties.

Our law office is committed to assisting its clients through the difficult process of terminating a marriage or other relationship as well as assisting clients in the process of entering into prenuptial or cohabitation agreements. The office also provides extensive post-decree services as well. While the office strives to resolve cases through negotiation whenever possible, Attorney Leach is also highly experienced in litigation. If litigation is necessary to resolve your family law issue, you can feel comfortable placing your trust in my law office.

Family Law Attorneys and Lawyers in Columbus, Ohio : George W. Leach Law Offices LLC,Custody

We understand that the parent-child relationship is among the most important relationships a person can have. That is why we are committed to protecting our clients as they struggle with custody and visitation issues, including interstate relocation and decree modifications. Whether your child custody issues arise out of divorce, or you and your child’s parent are unmarried, your relationship with your child is important to us and we will work to advocate for a parenting arrangement that works for your family.

Ohio provides for both shared parenting and sole custody of child(ren). If there is a “shared parenting” arrangement, both parents are called the “residential parent and legal custodian” of the child(ren). If one parent has “sole custody” of the child(ren), that parent is called the “residential parent and legal custodian” and the other parent is considered the “non-residential” or “non-custodial” parent. Even if one parent has sole custody of the child(ren), the other parent will still probably have visitation time (parenting time) with the child(ren). In the alternative, a shared parenting arrangement does not necessarily mean that child(ren) will spend an equal amount of time with both parents.

Child Support

If parents do not agree on the amount of support to be paid, Ohio has a child support guideline that provides a formula for calculating the amount that should be paid in most cases. The formula takes into account such things as the parents’ incomes, the number of child(ren) in the family, and the custody and visitation arrangement. Additional costs for education and medical expenses can also be taken into consideration. For families whose annual income exceeds $150,000, child support determinations are more complex and are made on a case-by-case basis.

We assist clients in all child support matters – from negotiation to modification and enforcement. We work aggressively to ensure that our clients’ child support awards are as fair and equitable as possible.

family divorce lawDivorce

A divorce is a civil suit that begins when one spouse (the Petitioner) files a Petition for Divorce against the other (the Respondent). Ohio law requires grounds for a divorce. Typically, divorces are filed on the grounds of incompatibility and/or gross neglect of duty. Usually, these grounds are not contested. You can, however, seek a no-fault divorce if you and your spouse have lived separate and apart for over a year without cohabitating.

To file for divorce in Ohio, the Petitioner must have resided in Ohio for at least 6 months (180 days). The divorce must also be filed in the correct venue, which is usually the county in which the Petitioner has lived for at least 90 days. After the divorce is filed, the Respondent will be served with the paperwork. The Respondent must file an answer and counter claim within 28 days from that date of service.

Temporary Restraining Orders may also be filed at the same time as the Petition for Divorce. Temporary Restraining Orders can be used to prohibit the other spouse from accruing additional debts, disposing of marital property, harassing the Petitioner, or interfering with custody of their child(ren). Temporary Orders may also be filed to request temporary spousal support or to establish visitation schedules for the child(ren). Temporary Orders are just that – temporary, so while they remain in place during the divorce process, they may be modified or terminated by the Final Divorce Decree.

Some of our clients have experienced domestic violence during their marriage or leading up to separation. In these instances, we have experience dealing with the special considerations that must be addressed before, during, and after the divorce process. Whether you are a victim of domestic violence, or have been accused of abuse, we understand the sensitive nature of these issues and how they can impact your family. Regardless of your position, we have experience and compassion, and will aggressively seek to ensure that your rights and interests are protected throughout this process.

After filing the Petition and Temporary Orders, it is necessary to account for the assets and debts that exist within the marriage through a process called ‘discovery.’ Discovery can be used to require parties to provide the personal and financial documents needed to accurately assess what property the parties share.

Once the property is accounted, we can begin dividing it between the parties. This can be done through negotiation at a Settlement Conference, or through litigation in the Court of Domestic Relations. Ohio requires that marital property be divided equitably. This often, but not always, turns out to be a fairly equal division of property. Division of property can be a contentious issue for some couples, and it is often more complicated if there are non-marital assets, gifts, or inheritances mixed with the marital assets. Often these issues can be worked out in negotiation, but if the issue must be decided by a judge, non-marital assets would need to be traced and identified as separate from marital assets to ensure that they are awarded to the rightful owner. This can be a complex process, so having an experienced attorney is an important part of protecting your financial interests.

family dissolutionDissolution

A dissolution of marriage differs from a divorce in several ways. In a divorce, the petitioner files the petition for divorce to get the ball rolling. Often temporary orders are filed at this time to protect the parties’ interests while the property is divided and custody issues are resolved. While these issues are being resolved, parties to a divorce can request Discovery to compel the other party to provide documentation of the assets and debts. This process can take up to a year or more to finalize.

In a dissolution of marriage, the parties negotiate the terms of the Separation Agreement and put that in writing prior to filing anything. This agreement must be signed and filed with a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. Since the legal action is not initiated until after the parties have come to a complete and final agreement on all of the issues, such as property division and parenting time, the court cannot provide for discovery or temporary orders. After filing the petition, a magistrate or judge will decide on the dissolution and finalize it no less than 30 days and no more than 60 days after filing.

Additionally, for your privacy and convenience, we can offer you a private judge for your final dissolution or divorce hearing at our office. In using a private judge, we can schedule the hearing on a day and time that works best for everyone involved.

Annulment

An annulment means that a marriage is declared a legal nullity. The granting of an annulment voids the marriage.

You may obtain an annulment for the following reasons:

  • An underage spouse (18 for males, 16 for females with parental consent)
  • Prior valid marriage with surviving spouse (Bigamy)
  • Mental incompetence of one party
  • Consent to marry obtained by fraud or force (Coercion)
  • Failure to consummate the marriage

The time period for seeking an annulment varies depending on the reason for the annulment. For most situations, the action for annulment must be brought into court within two years of the date of the marriage. However, there are some exceptions. When you make the decision to end your marriage, you should have an attorney who knows the right type of case to file tailored to your situation. We can help you and guide you through every step of the way.

Civil Protection Order (CPO)

We represent individuals in Domestic Relations Court on both sides of these disputes. While it is most often violence against women which is litigated, our office has represented male victims of domestic violence as well. When there is legitimate abuse taking place, an Ohio restraining order may be a life-saver. When the order is used as an over-reaction to an isolated incident, the result can be very destructive to the accused. In addition, some people are motivated to make false allegations of domestic violence in order to try to gain an advantage in a custody or divorce proceeding!

Civil Protection Orders (CPO’s) can be issued against people who reside in the same household, those who are in a dating relationship, acquaintances, and others who pose a credible threat. In most counties in Ohio, Civil Protection Orders (CPO’s) are granted by the Domestic Relations Court. The victim must have a “special relationship” with the abuser, as defined by statute, and meet the legal definition of “being in danger of domestic violence”. CPO’s can last for up to five (5) years and the abuser can be arrested and put in jail for violating the order.

In addition to limiting or prohibiting contact between the victim and the abuser, the CPO can also preclude the alleged abuser from returning home. It may address related issues such as payment of the victim’s bills, where any children of the victim will live, if there will be any visitation, and the payment of child support. The abuser can be prohibited from possessing any firearm and be ordered to participate in anger management or “batterer’s” counseling. Those who are convicted of domestic violence, or who are under a CPO or Ohio restraining orders, may find it difficult to find employment in the future and may experience investigation and restraint during travel outside of the U.S.

If you have been either a victim of domestic violence or have a temporary CPO issued against you, it is important to contact an experienced lawyer who can help protect your rights. Please don’t hesitate to contact George W. Leach at (614) 224-7488 to schedule an appointment. Or, if you would prefer, you can use our form on this site to contact us online. We can discuss and analyze the facts and aggressively protect your legal rights!

stalkingCivil Stalking or Sexually Oriented Offense Protection Orders

A person who is stalked or threatened by someone who is not a spouse or household member can apply for a Civil Stalking or Sexually Oriented Offense Protection Order (SSOOPO) from a common pleas court in Ohio. They are also called Civil Stalking Protection Orders (CSPO).

To qualify for a Stalking or Sexually Oriented Offense Protection Order, the victim must show evidence that he or she was subjected to a pattern (at least two incidents) of "menacing by stalking." Menacing by stalking may include one or more of the following: verbal threats, harassing phone calls or letters, or vandalism. However, if there is one sex offense, such as rape or engaging in sexual contact with a minor, it is generally enough to support a protective order.

A SSOOPO may prohibit:

  • Respondent from harming, attempting to harm, threatening, stalking, harassing, contacting, forcing sexual relations, or committing sexually oriented offenses against any protected person listed.
  • Respondent from going to residence, school, business, place of employment, childcare providers, including buildings, grounds and parking lots of any protected persons listed.
  • Respondent from being present within 500 feet (or whatever length the judge determines), even with the protected persons' permission, of any protected persons listed.
  • Respondent from initiating any contact includes, but is not limited to telephone, fax, e-mail, voicemail, delivery service, writings, or communications by any other persons through another person.

If you are a victim of these threats or other violent acts, you need to contact the police and an attorney right away. Do not wait or your safety could be in jeopardy.

Once a protection order is in place, a violation of the protection order is a criminal offense. A person violating the order can be charged with a crime and arrested. He or she faces potential jail time and other penalties if found guilty of the violation. That is why it is critical to have an attorney representing you if you are charged with a violation of a SSOOPO.

Post Decree Modification of court orders

If there is a change in circumstances, a post-decree modification can be sought. The most common modification is for child custody and support obligations. Child(ren) grow up, their interests and needs change, and often a modification to custody and support obligations is necessary to account for these changes. Modifications to custody or support orders may also be required if one parent seeks to relocate to another state for a job or other reasons.

Spousal Support decrees can also be modified, but are less common than child support modifications. A significant change in circumstance must be shown before a modification will be provided. Such a change in circumstance might include illness, bankruptcy, or job loss.

We offer services to those seeking or opposing order modifications. Feel free to contact us at any time to discuss the details of your case.

Disclaimer:

George W. Leach Law Offices, LLC, is a law office licensed to practice law in the state of Ohio. His office is in Columbus, OH. The information provided on this website is for informational purposes only and is not offered as and does not constitute legal advice, and your visit to this website does not create an attorney-client relationship with Attorney Leach. Please do not send us pictures or documents via email until after your consultation and we have had an opportunity to check for a conflict with a current or former client.

 
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