At Jay Perez Law, we understand that going through family and domestic issues can be one of the most trying and stressful times in one's life.  It can also be a very confusing time as well. If you are going through or contemplating a change in your family framework then you need to understand your rights thoroughly.  

We have a solid reputation for providing strong and skillful representation in the following areas: Divorce and Dissolution, Child Custody, Establishment of Parental Responsibilities, Child Support, Asset Allocation and Post Decree Matters.

DISSOLUTION VS. DIVORCE 
In a dissolution both parties are jointly requesting the court end their marriage. In a dissolution, both parties have agreed on the terms of ending their marriage and are in agreement. For example, the parties have agreed on the allocation of assets, separation of debts, parenting time, child support, spousal support, etc.

A divorce is an adversarial proceeding in which one spouse files a complaint in court and asks the court to decide all matters pertaining to the marriage. In Ohio, when seeking a divorce the causes for a divorce are:  

  • Either party had a husband or wife living at the time of the marriage from which the divorce is sought;
  • Willful absence of the adverse party for one year;  
  • Adultery;  
  • Extreme cruelty;  
  • fraudulent contract;
  • Gross neglect of duty;  
  • Habitual drunkenness;  
  • Imprisonment of the adverse party in a state or federal correctional institution;  
  • The parties have lived separate and apart without cohabitation for at least one year;  
  • Incompatibility

CHILD CUSTODY & ESTABLISHMENT OF PARENTING RIGHTS

In any divorce proceeding the court will allocate the parental rights and responsibilities for the care of the minor child of the marriage based on what it determines to be in the best interest of the child. The court makes this determination based on testimony and evidence presented. The court will then designate a parent (sometime both) to be the residential parent and legal custodian of the child and further divide allocate other rights and responsibilities for the care of the child, including, but not limited to, child support and parenting time.   The three designations are: Sole residential parent and legal custodian, Shared parenting and Split parenting.

UNWED FATHERS
In Ohio, when an unwed woman gives birth, she automatically has full custody of the child and therefore, does not need to file any documents in court to establish that she has full custody. On the other hand, an individual who fathers a child out of wedlock must petition the court for establishment of parental rights and responsibilities. Even if a father has signed an Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit at the hospital, it does not give the father any parenting rights. Acknowledgment of paternity affidavits can be used to establish a relationship for child support purposes, but they do not establish parenting rights. Therefore, one could potentially be paying child support and not ever see their child. If an unwed father wishes to have parenting rights, such as designated parenting time, then an establishment of parental rights and responsibilities must be filed with the court.

CHILD SUPPORT
The amount one pays in child support is derived from a formula. There are guidelines that have been set by the State based on the income of each parent and the number of children in the matter. There are a number of factors that can effect the what is considered income. Additionally, if a parent is not employed, then the court can consider a number of factors to establish a "potential income" to be used in the formula. A few examples of what the court would consider are things such as:  

  • the parent's prior employment experience;
  • the parent's education; 
  • the prevailing wage and salary levels in the geographic area in which the parent resides; 
  • any special skills or training of the parent  

Further, the child support number that is calculated from the parents' income can be deviated from based on a number of factors as well. A deviation can go upward or downward from the child support guidelines.  A few examples of relevant factors are:
  • special and unusual needs of the child or children, including needs arising from the physical or psychological condition of the child or children;  

  • other court-ordered payments; 

  • extended parenting time or extraordinary costs associated with parenting time; 

  • the financial resources and the earning ability of the child or children; 

  • the relative financial resources, including the disparity in income between parties or households, other assets, and the needs of each parent; 

  • benefits that either parent receives from remarriage or sharing living expenses with another person; 

  • the amount of federal, state, and local taxes actually paid or estimated to be paid by a parent or both of the parents; 

  • significant in-kind contributions from a parent, including, but not limited to, direct payment for lessons, sports equipment, schooling, or clothing; 

  • extraordinary work-related expenses incurred by either parent;        

  •  the standard of living and circumstances of each parent and the standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage continued or had the parents been married; 

  • the educational opportunities that would have been available to the child had the circumstances requiring a child support order not  arisen; 

  • the responsibility of each parent for the support of others, including support of a child or children with disabilities who are not subject to the support order; 

  • post-secondary educational expenses paid for by a parent for the parent's own child or children, regardless of whether the child or children are emancipated.

ASSET ALLOCATION
Ohio is an equitable distribution state. This means that the division of marital property will be equitable. In a divorce proceeding, the court may determine what constitutes marital property and what constitutes separate property.   If an equal division of marital property would be inequitable, the court will divide it between the spouses in the manner it determines to be equitable. A few examples of factors that would be considered are:
  • the duration of the marriage; 
  • the assets and liabilities of the spouses; 
  • the desirability of awarding the family home, or the right to reside in the family home for reasonable periods of time, to the spouse with custody of the children of the marriage; 
  • the liquidity of the property to be distributed; 
  • the economic desirability of retaining intact an asset or an interest in an asset; 
  • the tax consequences of the property division upon the respective awards to be made to each spouse;
  • the costs of sale, if it is necessary that an asset be sold to effectuate an equitable distribution of property; 
  • any division or disbursement of property made in a separation agreement that was voluntarily entered into by the spouses; 
  • any retirement benefits of the spouses, excluding the social security benefits of a spouse except as may be relevant for purposes of dividing a public pension.

This list is not exhaustive. There can be many factors the court can consider when allocating assets.

POST DECREE MATTERS

After a court order has been issued, in order to have it changed, one must show a substantial change of circumstances. Additionally, it must be shown that the change being requested is in the best interest of the minor child and that the benefit of the change outweighs the harm from the change itself. Many factors can successfully constitute a substantial change of circumstance. Modifications to orders can be done to child custody matters as well as child support matters.  


  • Divorce
  • Dissolution
  • Establishment of Parental Rights
  • Post Decree Matters 
  • Modifications
  • Child Support
  • Child Custody 
  • Legal Separation