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Columbus Family Law Blog

Is "shared" custody in the best interests of the child?

The history of American child custody has seen a number of changes since the birth of our nation. Early Americans followed the English practice by which the father retained all rights to shared children in the event of a divorce. Later beliefs rested on the assumption that women are naturally more suited to nurture a child, and fathers were relegated to the role of occasional visitor in the lives of their children. The current model follows the belief that both parents should play an equal role in the upbringing of shared children, but this approach may not be in line with the best interests of the child or children involved, in Ohio or elsewhere.

Perhaps the biggest issue with "shared" or "equal" custody is the assumption that parenting is or ever has been a task that can be equally divided. When most marriages are intact, one parent virtually always shoulders a heavier burden when it comes to caring for the children. In fact, couples often discuss and determine how these responsibilities will be divided even before attempting to start a family. Why then should that balance be shifted once a divorce has taken place?

Billion-dollar divorce to go through appeals

Readers in Ohio may have followed the recent divorce case between billionaire oil magnate Harold Hamm and his wife of 26 years, Sue Ann Hamm. The couple have made headlines over the vast fortune to be divided between the spouses, which promised to break records in regard to being one of the largest settlements in history. The divorce was recently decided by a court, and Sue Ann Hamm was awarded a mix of assets and cash vlaued at more than $1 billion. She plans to appeal that decision, however, and argues that the award is not indicative of a fair division of marital wealth.

When reading about this case, many are stunned at the suggestion that a divorce award of more than a billion dollars could be rejected. However, it is important to think about the issue in the proper scale. The former Mrs. Hamm asserts that the division of assets leaves her ex husband with approximately 94 percent of the wealth amassed by his company, Continental Resources.

Divorce in mid-life requires a targeted approach

When Ohio spouses decide to end their marriage as they approach retirement, the details within their divorce settlement are extremely important. After the age of 50, there is simply less time left within the workforce to accommodate serious financial losses. This means that additional emphasis must be placed on creating the most favorable divorce settlement possible.

Spouses must carefully balance the need to obtain a fair division of marital wealth with avoiding undue contention with the other party. It is important to recognize those matters that deserve a higher degree of attention, such as cases in which one spouse suspects that the other may be attempting to hide assets. Another example is when one spouse set aside his or her own career to support that of his or her partner, in which case spousal support may need to play a role in the negotiation process.

How to protect an inheritance from loss during divorce

Receiving an inheritance is an exciting event. Receiving money or real estate can make a world of difference in one's financial landscape and can truly improve an individual's quality of life. Inheriting treasured family heirlooms can also be a deeply moving event and can help one have a tangible reminder of time spent with a lost loved one. Regardless of what is included in an inheritance, individuals should carefully consider how to best ensure that those assets are retained in the event of an Ohio divorce.

One way to help support a claim that an inheritance or gift should not be divided during divorce is to maintain comprehensive records. This means keeping any documentation that shows that the assets were intended to be received by an individual and not the married couple. Documents might include a gift-tax return, or a letter in which the grantor mentions the gift or inheritance and makes clear that the assets are intended for the recipient alone. Even a wedding card addressed to just one spouse can be helpful in making a claim that a gift belongs to only one spouse.

Do you really want to keep the family home during divorce?

For many Ohio spouses, the family home is far more than the structure itself or the land on which it sits. Houses also hold the memories of the families within, and it can be hard to imagine letting the family home go as part of one's divorce. In many cases, spouses will fight hard to retain the house, without giving the issue the proper consideration. In the end, it is not uncommon for an individual to look back on that decision with remorse.

When thinking about whether to try to keep the house, spouses must give careful consideration to the full cost of owning the property. The mortgage payment, while often the largest portion of one's housing expense, is just the beginning of what it truly costs to own a home. There are also expenses associated with insurance, improvements and the eventual cost of selling the property.

Common divorce mistakes that many men make

When it comes to divorce, there are often differences in the ways in which men and women go through the process. While everyone will have his or her own experience with divorce, there are some mistakes that occur so commonly that they become expected to some degree. The following are a few common missteps that men often make as they move through the end of a marriage. This information is offered in the hopes of giving Ohio readers the tools to evaluate their own scenario and determine if adjustments should be made.

One common error is to begin dating immediately after deciding to move toward divorce. This is a bad idea on many levels, and can cause the divorce process to become far more contentious. Ending a marriage is enough of an emotional roller coaster without adding another layer of stress to the mix. In addition, the details of a divorce should be handled only by the spouses involved. Bringing someone else's ideas, opinions and feelings into the process will only serve to complicate matters. 

Should child support be used as reality TV fodder?

The sheer number and variety of reality television programming available today boggles the mind. It seems as if virtually anything can be turned into a reality tv show, and some of these programs receive an enormous level of popularity. One of the more recent additions to the reality TV lineup focuses on parents who have fallen behind on their child support payments. The program could push the boundaries of what viewers in Ohio and elsewhere are willing to accept as "entertainment."

The show gives viewers an inside view into two courtrooms where child support cases are handled. Parents who are at least $1,000 behind on their child support obligations will be featured on the show. The two judges who are featured on the program are not being compensated for their appearances on the show. It is unclear whether those who stand before these courts can withdraw their consent to being filmed, or if they are compensated in any way.

Women face heightened risks following divorce

The process of ending a marriage can be difficult. Recent research suggests that women may encounter more challenges along that path than men. We provide the following information in the hopes of providing Ohio women the tools and information needed to recognize these risks and take steps to prevent them during their divorce.

The research cited comes from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Researchers interviewed more than 130,000 Americans, and asked participants about their well-being as it pertained to social interactions, sense of community, financial stability, physical health and sense of purpose. What soon became apparent was that female respondents who were separated or in the process of divorce ranked lowest, as compared to those who were married or single.

Nick Cannon: Divorce role model?

Ohio fans of the hit television show "America's Got Talent" will recognize the name of Nick Cannon, the charming and affable host of the show. Cannon is also well-known in his role as the husband of vocal superstar Mariah Carey. The couple, who share three-year-old twins, are planning to divorce, and both have behaved remarkably well in a cultural atmosphere in which a toxic divorce is the norm.

Cannon in particular seems to have mastered the art of being respectful of his soon-to-be ex while handling the onslaught of media questions regarding the couple's decision to divorce. In a recent interview, Cannon stated that the way he has chosen to answer those questions that push too far into his personal life is to simply state that he would rather not answer at all. This response gives an interviewer, even a particularly aggressive one, very little to work with without appearing to be both rude and insensitive. The same trick works for non-celebrities who are faced with friends or family who push for details on a divorce or separation.

Halle Berry asks court for child support change

Plenty of Ohio residents recognize the face and name of Halle Berry. The actress has enjoyed a great deal of career success in movies spanning a wide range of genres. Berry has made recent headlines not for a new artistic endeavors, however, but for a recent court filing. The actress is asking a family court to reduce the monthly child support payments that she is ordered to make to her former boyfriend.

Berry and her ex, a former model, have a six-year-old child together. After a lengthy and contentious child custody battle, the pair settled into a shared custody schedule, allowing both to share parenting time and responsibilities. Berry currently pays the father of her child monthly child support of $16,000, even though the child does not primarily reside with her father.

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Paul R. Panico

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Columbus, OH 43221

Phone: 614-429-1945
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