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divorce and child custody Matt Mishak Attorney Lorain County Ohio Elyria North Ridgeville

FAQ: Child Custody and Divorce

If one parent moves out and leaves the kids with the other parent, does it hurt the moving parent’s chances of getting custody at a later date?

 

In a word, yes.

Even when a parent leaves to avoid a dangerous or highly unpleasant situation, if the parent hopes to have physical custody at a later time it’s unwise to leave the children behind. The parent who leaves sends a message to the court that the other parent is a suitable choice for physical custody. Also, assuming the children stay in the home where the parents lived as a family, continue in the same school, and participate in their usual activities, a judge may be reluctant to change physical custody, if only to avoid disrupting the children’s regular routines.

If a parent must leave the familial home (and wants to be the primary physical custodian), the moving parent should take the children along and, as quickly as possible, file in family court for temporary custody and child support. If this process is delayed, the other parent may go to court first and allege that the kids were taken without that parent’s consent or knowledge.

Family law judges frown on a parent who removes the children from the home without seeking the court’s recognition. A judge may order that the children be returned to the family home, pending future proceedings to determine physical custody.

 

Are courts more likely to award custody to mothers than to fathers?

 

In the past, most states provided that custody of children of “tender years” (about five and under) had to be awarded to the mother when parents divorced. In most states, this rule has either been rejected entirely or relegated to the role of tie-breaker if two otherwise fit parents request custody of their preschool children.

No state now requires that a child be awarded to the mother without regard to the fitness of both parents. Most states require their courts to determine child custody on the basis of what’s in the children’s best interests, without regard to the parent’s gender.

As it turns out, many divorcing parents agree that the mother will have custody after a separation or divorce and that the father will exercise reasonable visitation. This sometimes happens because the parents agree that the mother has more time, a greater inclination, or a better understanding of the children’s daily needs. But it can also be because fathers presume that mothers will be awarded custody or because the mother is more tenacious in seeking custody.

If you are a father and want to ask the court for physical custody, do not let gender stereotypes stop you. If both you and the mother work full-time, and the kids have after-school care, you may be on equal footing. In fact, if you have more flexible hours than the mother, you could have a leg up. In any event, the judge will look at what’s best for the children.

So if you think that you should have primary custody and that you can persuade the judge that it’s in the kids’ best interests, you should go ahead and ask for custody. If you present yourself as willing and able to parent, it will go a long way towards challenging any lingering prejudice against you as a father.

 

Does child custody always go to just one parent?

 

No. Courts frequently award at least partial custody to both parents, called “joint custody.” Joint custody takes one of three forms:

  • joint physical custody (children spend a substantial amount of time with each parent)
  • joint legal custody (parents share decision-making on medical, educational, and religious questions involving the children), or
  • both joint legal and joint physical custody.

 

Are there special issues if a gay or lesbian parent is seeking child custody or visitation rights?

 

In a number of states, a parent’s sexual orientation cannot in and of itself prevent a parent from being given custody of or visitation with his or her child.

As a practical matter, however, lesbian and gay parents — even in those states — may be denied custody or visitation. This is because judges, when considering the best interests of the child, may be motivated by their own or community prejudices, and may find reasons other than the lesbian or gay parent’s sexual orientation to deny custody or appropriate visitation.

If you are involved in a custody case and are concerned about bias against you because you are gay or lesbian, make sure you consult a lawyer about protecting your rights. 

 

Is race ever an issue in child custody or visitation decisions?

 

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that it is unconstitutional for a court to consider race when a noncustodial parent petitions for a change of custody.

In Palmore v. Sidoti, 466 U.S. 429 (1984), a white couple divorced, and the mother was awarded custody of their son. She remarried an African-American man and moved to a predominantly African-American neighborhood. The father filed a request for modification of custody based on the changed circumstances. A Florida court granted the modification, but the U.S. Supreme Court reversed, ruling that societal stigma, especially related to race, cannot be the basis for a custody decision.

 

Who determines how much visitation is reasonable and fair?

 

When a court awards physical child custody to one parent and “reasonable” visitation to the other, the parent with physical custody is generally in the driver’s seat regarding what is reasonable. This need not be bad if the parents cooperate to see that the kids spend a significant amount of time with each parent.

Unfortunately, it sometimes translates into little visitation time with the noncustodial parent, resulting in disputes over missed visits and inconvenience. To avoid such problems, many courts now prefer for the parties to work out a fairly detailed parenting plan that sets the visitation schedule and outlines who has responsibility for decisions affecting the children.

 

Is mediation the best approach to solving disagreements about child custody?

 

Mediation is a non-adversarial process where a neutral person (a mediator) meets with disputing persons to help them settle a dispute.

The mediator does not have the power to impose a solution on the parties but assists them in creating an agreement of their own.

In some courts, however, the mediator may be asked by the court to make a recommendation if the parties cannot reach an agreement. If you’re concerned about whether the mediation is confidential or whether the mediator will be reporting to the judge, find out how your court does things before you get started.

There are several important reasons why mediation is a superior method to litigation for resolving custody and visitation disputes.

  • Mediation usually does not involve lawyers or expert witnesses (or their astronomical fees).
  • Mediation usually produces a settlement after five to ten hours of mediation over a week or two. (Child custody litigation can drag on for months or even years.)
  • Mediation enhances communication between the parents and makes it much more likely that they will be able to cooperate after the divorce or separation when it comes to raising their children. Experts who have studied the effects of divorce on children universally conclude that when divorcing or separating parents can cooperate, the children suffer far less.

 

Original article on Nolo.com

 


Seeking a divorce and have questions?
Attorney Mishak can help you.
Contact him today.

 


record expungement Ohio new law October 2018 record sealing Mishak Law Matthew Mishak Attorney Lorain County Elyria North Ridgeville Northeast Ohio

Expanded Expungement Law in Ohio

In Ohio, an expungement is the same as sealing a record.

 

Expungement is a legal process provided under Section 2953 of the Ohio Revised Code that allows one to have any and all references to a prior criminal conviction cleared and their court file sealed. The result of this process is as if you were never convicted of the crime.

 

BIG NEWS! As of October 29, 2018, Ohio officially expanded its expungement law.

 

The new expungement law allows for a review for a person with up to five F4/F5 felonies and/or unlimited misdemeanors.

According to the new statutory makeup in ORC § 2953.32, persons with non-violent, non-sexual misdemeanors and/or felonies up to F4 or F5 may now be eligible for their records to be sealed by a court in Ohio.

Individuals who previously did not qualify to have records sealed might be eligible.

This new expungement law allows for the possibility of all records to be sealed.

 

There are still waiting periods related to the expungement requests following discharge:

 

  • Misdemeanors require a one year waiting period.
  • One F4/F5 Felony requires a three-year waiting period.
  • Two F4/F5 Felonies require a four-year waiting period.
  • Three to Five F4/F5 Felonies require a five-year waiting period.

 

These new laws will not apply to anyone with a F3 or higher felony conviction or those with a conviction which includes a sexual or violent offense, regardless of the result being a felony or a misdemeanor.

The court, of course, has the discretion to determine if a person qualifies for expungement of their criminal record.

Additionally, the prosecutor will be notified of the request and has the ability to object to records being sealed during a scheduled hearing.

 

Who is eligible for an expungement?

 

You qualify if you meet all of the conditions described in Section 2953 of the Ohio Revised Code, including:

  • The conviction you are trying to expunge is not one of the crimes precluded by law.
  • You were not subject to a mandatory prison term for the conviction.  (If you were sentenced to prison time, but you were eligible for community control/probation, you would still qualify.)
  • You have any of the following convictions or combination of convictions: one misdemeanor; or one felony; two misdemeanor convictions; or one misdemeanor conviction and one felony conviction.   (A series of 2 or 3 convictions out of the same case shall be considered one conviction under the expungement statute.) (Minor misdemeanors including most traffic offenses do not count as a conviction.)
  • The statutory waiting period has passed for the conviction you seek to expunge.
  • You have no current or criminal charges pending against you. 

 

Can’t I just represent myself and save money?

 

Expungement requires drafting and filing of a motion (a formal legal document asking the court to take a particular action). The expungement motion will be filed with the court that sentenced you, and it will also have to be served on the prosecutor in some cases, and the probation department.

At the expungement hearing, oral or non-oral, the court must be convinced through persuasion and demonstration that your rehabilitation has been obtained and that you are deserving of an expungement.

An expungement is a privilege and not a right. 

The court may deny your expungement if they question that you have met all the qualifications under the Ohio Revised Code, or the court is not satisfied that you have been rehabilitated.

 

Legal Reference: FindLaw.com


If you would like to learn if you are eligible or request additional expungement law information, contact Attorney Mishak today.

 


facebook divorce digital age Mishak Law Matt Mishak Lorain County Ohio lawyer Elyria North Ridgeville

Facebook Divorce: Overview & Tips

Information found on popular social networking sites has given divorce lawyers new tools in their divorce toolkits.

 

Find out how Facebook and other sites are changing the legal landscape in divorce and child custody cases, and what you can do to protect yourself in the event of a Facebook divorce.

 

What is Facebook Divorce?

The term “Facebook divorce” refers to the increasing number of marital breakdowns that have occurred as a result of information found or discovered on social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter.

While social networking sites allow users to connect with old and new friends, they also create circumstances that may lead to a divorce or child custody battle. Moreover, social networking sites allow divorce lawyers to discover information they might not otherwise find using traditional methods of “discovery” (the process used to gather supporting facts and information in a case.)

In the recent past, the number of divorce lawyers who use Facebook and other social networking sites to uncover potentially damning evidence has grown. According to a 2010 survey by the American Association of Matrimony Lawyers (AAML), two-thirds of American lawyers say Facebook is the primary source of evidence used in divorce cases.

While there are no specific laws concerning the use of Facebook in divorce proceedings, the existing rules of evidence support the use of alternate forms of media to gather evidence, and this may include information found on social networking sites (via email, cell phone, or computer data retrieval, for example.)

 

What May Be Found on Facebook

There are several bits of divorce-related evidence that can be found on Facebook. Generally, a person’s overall history and whereabouts are just a mouse click away from public eyes – despite Facebook’s privacy settings (which are not always reliable.)

Furthermore, people often mistakenly believe that their actions online do not carry the same consequences as real-life events. For example, they may believe that online flirting is not the same as flirting in a bar. The reality, however, proves that what a person says or does online can have serious repercussions in a divorce or child custody case.

 

Below are examples of damning evidence that may be found on social networking sites, which may potentially be used against you in a “Facebook divorce” situation.

 

  • A friend “tags” a compromising photo of you drinking beer at a party or vacationing when you claim you have no time to see your children or dispute allegations of infidelity
  • Posts that refer to high-end purchases when you claim unemployment and money issues
  • Posts about your whereabouts that conflict with business trips or child visitation matters
  • Posts that suggests infidelity or deception, such as a Facebook status change to “single, but looking”
  • Keep in mind that even if the content on Facebook is deleted, it can later be retrieved by forensic experts and potentially used in court as evidence in divorce proceedings.

 

Facebook and Divorce: Legal Issues

Legal issues concerning the use of Facebook data in divorce proceedings varies. For instance, adultery is still grounds for divorce in some states and is defined in state laws as “the voluntary sexual intercourse of a married person with a person other than the offender’s spouse.” In most adultery cases, direct proof is not required – based on the mere nature of secretive relationships. Adultery in a Facebook divorce situation, however, might be inferred through photos and information posted on Facebook.

Note that while evidence-worthy photos and information exchanged on Facebook on their own may not be grounds for divorce, but information combined with other forms of proof may create an undesirable outcome.

 

Tips for Facebook Users Facing a Divorce

 

  • Be careful what you post on Facebook.
  • Know that what you say or post may be used against you in court, and divorce lawyers use Facebook as a matter of fact when gathering evidence.
  • You do not own the content on Facebook. Facebook has the right to do certain things with your content even without your knowledge.
  • Even if you are savvy enough to not post certain photos and information on your Facebook page, other friends and family members may post something potentially damaging about you on their Facebook page.
  • Do no secretly access your spouse’s Facebook page hoping to find damaging information to use against him or her. Not only is it a violation of the law to access someone’s computer or electronic device you do not have permission to use, the information you may find may be inadmissible in court.
  • Finally, if you suspect adultery or other wrongdoing by your spouse found on Facebook, you may wish to hire a divorce lawyer in your area who can help answer any specific questions you may have.

 

Is Facebook a Factor in Your Divorce? Make Sure You Get Professional Legal Help

Even the most amicable divorce can be a profoundly stressful experience — especially in this age of social media and the unenviable “Facebook divorce.”

Attorney Mishak can safely guide you through the process to ensure your financial security and peace of mind. 

 


Divorce is hard.
Attorney Matthew Mishak simplifies it.
Contact him today.


 

Original article as seen on FindLaw