Victory for good guy Dad

child and father
child and father

Last Friday we received  an opinion from the Cuyahoga County Court of Appeals which agreed with our argument that the father of a small girl should be named that girl's residential parent.   That father had to hire us when he came to the conclusion that the child's mother was much more interested in a party/social life than she was in becoming a stable parent.   While the child was in her custody, the mother had picked up her second DUI, picked up another alcohol-related charge, and had ongoing serious social drinking issues - and demonstrated a number of other immature parenting issues.  She also moved 6 times in a 2-year period.   The father (our client) had a long-standing stable job and owned his own home for many years - and no criminal history.   He had the child on his health insurance and always paid his child support.    The trial court magistrate  (who heard the case at trial) determined that the father (our client) essentially provided much more stability than the mother, and designated the father as the residential parent.  However, for reasons that were never completely clear, the trial judge(who did not hear the case at trial) overruled the magistrate - and left the mother as the residential parent. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court judge and reinstated the magistrate's decision.    The child is now going to reside with Dad.  What a solid victory for good dads all over the area and a great victory for the child.

This one felt good.

Divorce: Non-Marital Property Can Change ("Transmute") into Marital Property

hand giving keysThese days there are many marriages where each spouse came into the marriage with their own individually-owned "non-marital" property (for example, a house) - and even some property acquired during the marriage can be considered "non-marital property."   Under Ohio divorce law, this non-marital property is called "separate property."  For the most part, "separate property" is not subject to division by the divorce court - so many parties assert that an item of property is or is not separate property.  A divorce statute specifically lists what is "separate property" - and that list is generally: (1) inherited property, (2) property owned by a spouse before a marriage, (3) personal injury monies recovered by a spouse (other than for loss of earnings), and (4) a "gift" given solely to one spouse. Even if a certain piece of property was, without much dispute, "separate property" at one time, that item of property can lose its classification as "separate property" if that item of property is "transmutted" (i.e. transformed) into "marital property" because (1)  the parties "commingled" the "separate property" with "marital property" and (2) it is difficult or impossible to "trace" the separate property out of the marital property.

So, as much as marital bliss can clog the mind, parties should be careful about commingling separate property with marital property unless they specifically choose to do so - knowing the consequences.

What is "imputed" income in a divorce case?

roll of money
roll of money

We have had some recent litigation in a divorce case where we had to ask the divorce judge to "impute" income to the other spouse.  This spouse refused to seek a job even though she was clearly able to do so.  We found it ironic that the lawyers for this woman hired their own expert who ended up agreeing with our expert as to the employability of the woman - as well as the income she could make. Often divorce courts have to "impute" income to those spouses who are either deliberately  "unemployed" or "unemployed."  Often in divorce cases, one spouse refuses to make any income  - or deliberately compromises his or her potential income  - in an effort to prevent the other spouse from sharing in that income.   This comes up very often in disputes involving child support  (the support to be paid for the benefit of the children) and spousal support (the support to be paid to the spouse).  Sometimes this is easy to prove - for instance when a spouse just up and quits his or her job.  Sometimes it is  not - for instance when a spouse is self employed and is able to hide the income or the income producing capabilities.   But it never ceases to come into play in the cases we see.

Let us know if we can help you here.

The "verbal" domestic violence case

Many times those arrested and/or accused of domestic violence claim they are not guilty simply because they only made what they believed were veiled threats of harm.  For example, the husband who says "I'm going to kill" you in a fit of rage, or the live-in girlfriend states "I will cut your throat" during an argument, can be found to have violated  one subsection of the Ohio domestic violence statute  (other subsections talk about actual physical injury to the victim) which states: "No person, by threat of force, shall knowingly cause a family or household member to believe that the offender will cause imminent physical harm to the family or household member."  Sometimes, as in a recent Cuyahoga County Court of Appeals case, even text messages and standing outside of an apartment can be sufficient evidence of a domestic violence violation. Advice:  Count to 10 before saying anything out of anger to your significant other.  Even if you don't really intend on doing anything physical, the cops can still be called.