Columbus Ohio Divorce and Family Law Attorneys

The Central Ohio divorce and family law attorneys at Harris & Engler help clients in Columbus, Delaware Ohio, and greater Central Ohio with all of their divorce, child custody, and family law issues.  Harris & Engler has attorneys ready to serve you who are well experienced in divorce, child custody, and all Ohio family law.  The divorce attorneys at Harris & Engler primarily practice family law in Franklin, Delaware, and Union counties, but ultimately help clients needing an experienced divorce attorney all around Central Ohio.

The divorce attorneys at the Columbus Ohio based law firm of Harris & Engler focus on obtaining the best results as possible for their clients as efficiently as possible.  When looking for a divorce attorney you need someone who you can count on to answer the phone or return your phone call and to be there for you for the little emergencies that sometimes happen when going through a divorce.

You have your own goals to get out of your divorce and the attorneys at Harris & Engler can help you get there.  You can call to discuss your case or schedule a consultation by calling (614) 620-9988.  

How to Answer a Divorce Complaint in Ohio

Someone has got to be the first to file for divorce.  If you've received a big envelope from your county court of common pleas with a summons and divorce complaint, then that means your current spouse was the one to file first and you've got to file what is called an "answer" to the divorce complaint.  Probably the most difficult aspect of the process of filing a complaint for divorce in Ohio or filing an answer to a divorce complaint is filling out all of the affidavits that have to be filed along with the divorce complaint or answer.

Filling Out Affidavits To Go With The Divorce Complaint or Answer

Every county in Ohio has slightly different requirements for what affidavits have to be filed with a divorce complaint or answer.  The number of affidavits also depends on whether or not there are minor children of the marriage.  In Franklin County, Ohio, in order to file a divorce complaint or answer for a marriage when there are no minor children born of the marriage, then each spouse has to fill out and file an Affidavit of Property and Affidavit of Income and Expenses.  If there are minor children of the marriage, then in order to get a divorce in Columbus, Ohio, you also need to fill out a Health Insurance Affidavit and a Parenting Proceeding Affidavit.  

In order to obtain a divorce in Delaware County, Ohio, you need to fill out all the same affidavits as in Franklin County, plus a few more.  If there are no minor children to the marriage, then you also have to fill out a supplemental affidavit that basically lists your education level and job experience.  If you have minor children to the marriage, then you have to fill out all of the above affidavits plus a supplemental parenting proceeding affidavit.

All of the affidavits required to get a divorce in Ohio can be found on the Supreme Court of Ohio website here.  For Delaware County, all of the affidavits can be found here.  Ohio also requires divorcing parents of minor children to take a parenting class before the divorce can be finalized.  Each county may have their own parenting class program.

Mutual Restraining Orders and Motion for Temporary Orders

There are a few other documents that are often filed at the time of the divorce complaint or answer.  These are a motion for mutual restraining orders and motion for temporary orders.  A mutual restraining order is basically a court order that puts a freeze on each party's ability to move around their bank accounts or other assets.  It can be useful to prevent any financial wrongdoing while the divorce case is ongoing.  

A temporary order is a court order that can cover a range of things like child support, spousal support, and child visitation while the divorce case is going on.  Temporary Orders are just temporary court orders that the Judge puts in place while the divorce case is ongoing.  Whenever the Judge decides on the main issues of the case, or when the parties to the divorce reach an agreement, then the final court order replaces the temporary order.

The Answer and Counter-Claims Of a Divorce Complaint in Ohio

In general, in any legal proceeding, when you file an answer you've got to respond to each allegation made in the Complaint.  Each allegation is usually divided into a separate paragraph.

In Ohio, there are various different legal grounds to obtain a divorce.  It may surprise someone receiving a divorce complaint to see listed things like adultery, extreme cruetly, gross neglect of duty, or that the parties have lived separate and apart for at least one year.  Whatever specific case of action that is listed as the ground for divorce is ultimately not important.  All that is needed to obtain a divorce in Ohio is that the parties agree that they are "incompatible."  However, usually more than one ground for divorce is listed as a safety measure of listing possible alternative grounds for the divorce in case one of the grounds is too difficult to prove at trial.  

It is usually a good idea for the recipient of a divorce complaint to file their own counter-claim along with the answer requesting a divorce.  This ensures that  divorce can still be obtained if there end up being problems with the filer of the divorce complaint and their case.

Central Ohio Divorce Attorneys

A divorce can be complicated, or it can be relatively simple.  It all depends on the actual people involved, how much stuff and how much debt they have, and how willing or unwilling those people are to make an agreement.  The only reason you should ever go it alone in a divorce without an attorney is if you are not able to afford an attorney and you have no one to help you with the expense.  But even then, you should reach out to the Legal Aid Society of Columbus to see if your income level qualifies you for free legal assistance.  For everyone with the financial ability to do so, they should hire a local divorce attorney.  You are simply going to get a better resolution to your divorce with a lawyer.  If you need a divorce attorney and live in the Central Ohio area, then call the law firm of Harris & Engler.  The divorce attorneys at Harris & Engler have offices in Columbus, Ohio, nearby to Delaware, Ohio, and they help with divorces all over Central Ohio.

Ohio Updates Child Support Law for the First Time in Nearly 30 Years

Ohio's child support law underwent a major overhaul representing the first update to child support law since 1992.  Ohio's new child support law goes into effect on March 28, 2019.  This means that only new child support orders after 3/28/19 will be affected or any child support orders where a modification is requested after this date.  

A few of the biggest changes are outlined below:
  • The child support calculation itself is updated.  The old child support law was more likely to produce a child support order for low income parents that was in an amount in excess of their ability to actually pay.
  • There is a newly created "self-sufficiency reserve."  This is a reserve to where the obligor (paying) parent has a minimum necessary reserve from their income to at least maintain a certain self-sufficiency living standard.
  • The minimum child support order was increased from $50/month to $80/month.
  • The calculation of child support for obligor parents with multiple families has been updated.  It used to be that if a father was subject to multiple child support orders, then whoever filed the first child support order usually got more in child support then other parents of other children that filed against the father for other children.  This has been changed so that children of different families get the same amount.
  • There is now an automatic 10% credit given to a parent who has parenting time at least 90 nights out of the year.
  • The Court is also required to consider an additional deviation above the 10% credit for an obligor parent who has parenting time over 90 nights per year.
  • There are new caps on the Child Care Credit.  Under the old law, day care expenses were one of the biggest factors in determining how much the child support obligation was.  Now this is capped.  
If you have any questions about child support or any other questions about family law in Ohio, please feel free to contact a family law attorney at Harris & Engler.  Harris & Engler is a law firm based in Columbus, Ohio that helps individuals with family law issues across Central Ohio.  

Divorce Attorneys in Columbus Ohio

If you are thinking about getting a divorce in Ohio, then there are some advantages to being the first to file.  In Ohio, there are some special rules that apply to divorce actions that don't apply to normal civil lawsuits.  For example, in a normal civil lawsuit you usually have to file the lawsuit where the Defendant lives or where the incidents took place.  In Ohio, whoever files the divorce (the Plaintiff) gets to decide what court to file in.  This can be a serious advantage in a divorce case if the spouses live in different counties.  If the spouses live in different counties then the person who files for a divorce should normally do it in the county that they live in.  That way the Plaintiff will not have to travel to a different county to attend court hearings and they wont have to pay their attorney to travel to different counties for the divorce case.  That saves time and money.  If both spouses live in the same county, then that county would be the county that the divorce would be filed in, but there are still some other advantages to being the first to file for divorce.  

In order to be able to pick your county court in filing for a divorce, you simply need to have been a resident of Ohio for 6 months and a resident of the county you want to file in for 90 days.

What County Do You Have to File in if Your Children Live in a Different County than You?

Technically, a divorce and a child custody determination can be divided into two separate actions.  However, it usually makes the most sense to do it all together and get your divorce and child custody action all handled at once.  The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act basically provides that only the Court in the county where the children have lived for the past 6 months has the power to decide child custody issues.  The general rule is that if there ever was a pre-existing child custody order, then you always have to go back to that court to change custody (there are exceptions for if, for example, the children move, and some other nit-picky rules, so call an attorney if you have questions).

If your children live in a different county than you, and you want to file for divorce, then it usually makes the most sense to file in the county your children live in, although technically you could choose to just file in the county you live in (but that court couldn't make a custody determination if your children live in a different county).

What Are the Other Advantages to Being the First to File a Divorce?

If you, your spouse, and/or your children all live in the same county, then the biggest other advantage to being the first to file for divorce is in getting restraining orders in place.  

What Are Temporary Restraining Orders in a Divorce Case?

In an Ohio divorce case, a temporary restraining order usually orders that both parties keep all of the financial and real estate holdings in place while things are being sorted out in the divorce.  It basically makes it so one side can't start hiding or selling off their assets during a divorce case.  It is "temporary" meaning that the Court order is just in place during the pendency of the divorce case and until the case is decided and final orders are issued on all the financial and real estate matters.

Determining the Timing and Money in Filing for a Divorce First

If you file for divorce first, then you can basically choose to do it at the time that is most convenient for you, rather than being in the other position of being caught off-guard by the divorce.  You can also choose to file for divorce at a strategic time for yourself or your spouse when it comes to money matters.  These are strategic aspects that you will want to discuss with your divorce attorney.

Attorneys for Divorces in Columbus and Central Ohio

The law firm of Harris & Engler has attorneys who help clients obtain divorces in Columbus and Central Ohio.  The law offices of Harris & Engler are located in Columbus Ohio and you can call a divorce attorney today by calling (614) 610-9988.  Whether you need to ask some initial questions about preparing for a divorce or you are ready to set up an appointment, please feel free to call one of the divorce attorneys at Harris & Engler.

The Law in Ohio on Whether or Not You Have to Return an Engagement Ring in the Event of a Breakup

Gifts given "in contemplation of marriage" have their own special category in Ohio law.  Ohio law varies quite a bit on the subject of whether the recipient of an engagement ring or other gift given in contemplation of marriage has to be returned if the engagement is broken off.  The law may be different depending on what county in Ohio you live in, so there is a good bit of variability on the subject.  If there is one general consensus across the various appellate districts in Ohio, it is, for the most part, that an engagement ring is a gift expressly conditioned on a subsequent marriage.  The conditional nature of other gifts given in contemplation of marriage is different county to county across Ohio.

The approach in Franklin County was decided in the 1995 case of Sigrist v. Lyons, 100 Ohio App.3d 252, 653 N.E.2d 744, where the Court decided that "where a gift is given with a mutual understanding that the parties would be married and the gift would benefit the marriage, then if the parties do not marry, unjust enrichment requires the gift be returned."  Accordingly, in Columbus and all throughout Franklin County, any gift given in contemplation of marriage must be returned under unjust enrichment principals if the engagement is broken off.  The big caveat here is that the gift must benefit the marriage, which means that it must benefit the relationship in the future, not just right now or not just during the engagement period.  This would tend to rule out smaller or more trivial gifts and include bigger, more permanent or longer lasting gifts, like furniture, appliances, vehicle, a new house, etc.

Another approach around Ohio is to treat all gifts exchanged during the engagement period as revocable gifts.  See Cooper v. Smith, 155 Ohio App.3d 218, 800 N.E.2d 372 (Ohio App. 4th Dist., 2003).  

A third approach treats only an engagement ring as a gift conditioned upon subsequent marriage, but all other gifts given during the engagement period are treated as irrevocable unless they were given only on the express condition of subsequent marriage.  

The fourth and fifth approaches are similar.  The fourth approach around Ohio says that the donor can recover a gift given during an engagement unless the donor unjustifiably broke off the engagement.  This approach appeals to a sense of justice in a way to where a person can get the gifts back unless they "wronged" their fiance/ee.  However, this approach poses a pretty big problem in having to prove whether breaking off the engagement was truly unjustifiable or if there were good reasons.  Things can get a bit hairy having to prove those kinds of things, which is why the fifth approach is the "no fault" approach.  

Under the fifth, no fault, approach in Ohio, gifts given in contemplation of marriage are returned to the donor if the marriage does not occur, regardless of who is at fault in ending the engagement.  See Lyle v. Durham (1984), 16 Ohio App.3d 1, 473 N.E.2d 1216.  

Franklin county most closely follows the fifth approach, that any gift given in contemplation of marriage is conditional, so long as the gift would benefit the marriage.  Many other counties around Ohio follow the third approach, that only an engagement ring is returnable if the relationship fails, but not the other gifts.  Many other counties around Ohio still have not made a final binding decision on the matter.  In those counties, the courts would consider whatever approaches were proposed to them and make whatever decision made the most sense for that particular situation.

If you or a close loved one has been experiencing some relationship trouble, you can reach out to a divorce and family law attorney at Harris & Engler by calling (614) 610-9988 or emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  
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