Family law matters are notoriously stressful, emotional, and complicated. Without the help of an experienced Cleveland family law attorney, cases can become contentious and even more challenging to resolve amicably.
At Slater & Zurz, we have been helping families find legal solutions to their family law matters for over 30 years. Whether you are going through a divorce, child custody dispute, or separation, our Cleveland family law attorneys can help. We are compassionate, steadfast advocates for our clients, always providing support even through difficult times.
Our Cleveland family law attorneys are well-versed in handling a wide variety of issues. We work one-on-one with you to pursue the ideal outcome for you and your family. We understand what is at stake in family law cases, and we will work relentlessly to get you a favorable outcome.
Our family law practice areas include:
- Dissolution of marriage
- Legal separation
- Property division
- Spousal support
- Prenuptial agreements
- Child custody and child support
- Legal guardianship
In addition to these cases, we can also provide legal representation for fathers and grandparents seeking to exercise their rights in accordance with state law. To find out more about how we can help, contact our office to speak directly with an experienced attorney.
When an individual seeks to legally end their marriage, they can file for a divorce. Pursuant to the Ohio Revised Codes, a person must meet residency requirements and have “grounds” for divorce.
Legal reasons or grounds for divorce in Ohio include:
- You or your spouse was already married when you got married;
- Wilful absence for a year or more;
- Extreme cruelty (including domestic violence);
- Fraudulent contract;
- Gross neglect of duty;
- Habitual drunkenness;
- Imprisonment of your spouse;
- Divorce already granted in another jurisdiction;
- Living separately for at least one year; or
If your partner does not agree with the divorce, they may challenge whether you have legal grounds to file. A Cleveland family law attorney can help to prove your case and establish that you have justification for seeking an end to the marriage.
If both parties agree that they want to legally end the marriage, they may request a dissolution of marriage from the court. Unlike in a divorce proceeding, neither party must prove grounds for seeking the dissolution of marriage. The parties would have to attach a mutually agreeable separation agreement to the request.
A dissolution of marriage is similar to no-fault divorce in other jurisdictions. If both parties can agree to a fair and just separation agreement, it is one of the least contentious ways to end a marriage. Contact our Cleveland family law attorneys to discuss the difference between a divorce and a dissolution of marriage.
In some cases, the parties may want to separate but not legally end the marriage. The procedures to secure a legal separation are nearly identical to those required for a divorce. A court order for legal separation will also deal with all of the issues generally addressed in a divorce order, including spousal support, property division, child support, and child custody.
Often one of the most disputed issues in family law matters is the division of property. Ohio follows the rule of “equitable distribution” when determining how property should be divided between spouses. While the court generally tries to divide marital property equally, the court may make exceptions if they decide that an equal division of property would not be fair.
In determining the equitable distribution of property, a court may consider several factors, including the following:
- Duration of the marriage;
- Assets and liabilities of the spouses;
- Advantages of awarding the family home to the custodial parent;
- Liquidity of the property;
- Economic desirability of keeping interested in an asset or keeping it intact;
- Tax consequences;
- Costs of sale;
- A separation agreement between the pirates;
- Retirement benefits of the spouses; and
- Any other factor the court finds “relevant and equitable.”
In determining an equitable division of property, a court may order that a distributive award be paid to a spouse. A distributive award is paid from separate property or income, not marital property, and is not considered spousal support.
In some cases, a court may award spousal support to one of the parties. Spousal support will be granted if the court determines it is appropriate and reasonable. The court will consider several factors when awarding spousal support, including the income of both parties, their physical, mental, and emotional conditions, and their relative earning abilities.
A Cleveland family law attorney can help assess whether you may qualify for spousal support or should request a modification of any court order. Spousal support may be awarded in a divorce or legal separation proceeding. In matters where the dissolution of marriage is sought, both parties generally agree to spousal support in the separation agreement before submitting their request to the court.
In Ohio, prenuptial agreements are referred to as antenuptial agreements. They are executed prior to marriage by both parties and may deal with a number of issues, including property distribution, spousal support, and other rights and responsibilities of the spouses in the event of divorce or dissolution of marriage.
Premarital agreements should be reviewed by a Cleveland family law attorney before they are signed. It is strongly recommended that each party secure their own legal counsel to review the prenuptial agreement to avoid conflicts of interest.