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Columbus Family Law Blog

Being honest when talking to kids about divorce

Many Ohio parents are unsure how to approach having “the talk” with their kids. It is not the talk about the birds and the bees that parents fear the most, but the one in which mom and dad say that they are no longer going to be living together as a family. Divorce is a difficult topic for families to discuss, and often parents simply don’t know where to begin. Honesty is an important component of a successful divorce “talk,” and plays a role in how both parents and children will process the changes ahead.

When discussing the issue with children, parents must take an honest approach, but one that is sensitive to the maturity level of the children involved. It is never appropriate to go into the gory details of why mom and dad have decided to part ways, and doing so only serves to place an undue burden on one’s children. Parents should not, however, shy away from expressing their sadness about the end of their marriage, as long as they take care not to place the children in the roles of caregivers.

Online tasks for those in Ohio who are planning to divorce

For Ohio spouses who are in the early stages of divorce, there are several important tasks that should be accomplished online, as soon as possible. While the process of divorce will require a great number of tasks and decisions, there are some initial protections that should be set into motion as soon as possible. Addressing these issues at the onset of a divorce can help avoid a number of potential problems in the months ahead.

Spouses should begin by making a list of all online accounts and systematically changing the password for each. Restricting the access of the other spouse can offset the risk that he or she will use shared passwords as a route to mine information to be used within the divorce. Once the marriage is on a path toward dissolution, there is no reason to continue using shared online accounts, email or social media. Be sure to change any security questions associated with online accounts, as well, since a spouse will often know the answers to the more standard questions.

How estate planning factors into an Ohio divorce

For those in Ohio who are preparing to end their marriage, the issue of estate planning is often not a primary concern. However, divorce is one of life’s major events, and marks a shift in the structure of a family. Failing to address this shift within one’s existing estate plan is a mistake, one that can have serious negative ramifications.

No one likes to consider the details of his or her own demise, even during times of contentment and marital harmony. When the stress of divorce is in play, many spouses are even more reluctant to address the matter. However, the only thing less pleasant than thinking about estate planning is thinking about one’s soon-to-be-ex inheriting all of one’s assets.

Understanding the emotional reaction to one's divorce

When discussing divorce, the focus is often on the ins and outs of the process; the best way to approach the division of assets, the best way to support one’s child during the process, the best way to interview divorce attorneys. These bits of advice are certainly helpful to Ohio spouses who are entering the divorce process, but they often fail to give spouses insight on the topic they are most wary of. Rare is the husband or wife who doesn’t fear how he or she will react to the end of a marriage, and even rarer are those who have prepared for the likely reactions to come.

No matter how sincerely a spouse wishes to end their marriage, there are many emotional responses that accompany this significant life event. Many people experience feelings of sadness and regret as they prepare to part ways. Some exhibit an uncharacteristic level of anger when faced with the reality of a dissolving marriage. Still others are surprised at the fears that come with not being present in the daily lives of their children.

Can divorce spread faster than the common cold?

A great deal of social science research focuses on the intricacies of marriage and divorce; the myriad ways that we connect and disconnect with one another. A recent study examines the links between the divorce experiences of an individual’s friends and the influence that those experiences might have on one’s own marriage. The results suggest that divorce may in fact be “catching” and that people in Ohio and elsewhere who know someone who has gone through divorce are 75 percent more likely to end their own marriage.

This is not to say that the link demonstrates that all spouses who associate with divorced people will choose that path within their own lives. The link is probably based on the fears that many unhappy spouses hold when considering divorce. When they see that their friends are able to move through the process and emerge the happier for it, the decision to file may be made easier.

Divorce can fundamentally alter one's retirement plans

As an Ohio resident moves closer to retirement, he or she often takes a greater interest in the financial planning that has been put into place to support retirement goals. This is the time to fine-tune one’s investments, consider Social Security strategies and create a budget for the years ahead. For individuals who are facing divorce, however, retirement planning can be a far more difficult task.

Many spouses are surprised at the losses that can be sustained during the property division stage of a divorce. While most individuals are aware that there will be a division of marital assets, some have no idea that their retirement savings will be subject to division, as well. As a result, spouses can find the retirement money that they have carefully set aside for decades can be reduced by half in one fell stroke. In addition, the costs of maintaining a household on one’s own can also create financial tension.

Ohio military parents can face unusual child custody risks

For those Ohio parents who also serve within the United States armed forces, the challenges of balancing service to one’s country with the responsibilities of raising a family are significant. Military families have to create an intricate system of scheduling, parenting time and help from their support network in order to do a great job on both fronts. However, there is an even more pressing concern for those military parents who are going through a child custody case. In some instances, it can appear as if one’s military service is used as a weapon against them in their fight to assert their parental rights.

A prime example is found in the recent high-profile case of a member of the United States Navy who is currently deployed on a submarine in the Pacific Ocean. During his absence, his six-year-old daughter, of whom he has full custody, has been living at home with her stepmother. However, the child’s biological mother has initiated a child custody case aimed at regaining primary custody of her daughter.

Child custody courts slow to catch up with marijuana laws

For parents in states that allow the use of medical marijuana, concerns over how such use might impact their family status should be a top concern. While medical marijuana is not yet a reality for Ohio residents, there is much to be learned by the child custody struggles facing parents in states that have passed medical marijuana legislation. Understanding the issues that these parents are facing could help others avoid similar child custody struggles centered on the legal use of marijuana.

As with many social shifts, family courts across the nation are slow to catch up with the growing acceptance of legal marijuana use. For parents, this means that having the legal right to use marijuana does not equate to a free pass on the issue when it comes to a potential child custody challenge. Custody matters always come down to the best interests of the child, a standard which can be incredibly subjective.

Deciding whether divorce is the best available option

When a couple is going through a period of difficulty, it can be hard to know when things have deteriorated to the point of no return. Families go through ups and downs, and part of the benefits of marriage involve having a partner to stand by one’s side during times of trouble. There are certain matters, however, that stretch the boundaries of a spouse’s marital obligations, and it can be difficult to know when those lines have been crossed. The following tips are given to assist spouses who are unsure whether divorce is the best course of action.

One matter that can damage the marital bond involves addiction. While there may be a great deal of debate surrounding whether addiction is a choice or a disease, there can be no doubt that the issue can place enormous strain on a marriage. In some cases, individuals are able to seek help with these problems, and the relationship can be saved. For those in Ohio who have not been able to convince their spouse to seek treatment, however, there may be little choice but to move beyond the relationship.

Pet "custody" issues may result in a divorce hearing

For most Ohio spouses, addressing issues surrounding which party will keep the family pets is a matter best handled outside of a courtroom. That said, there are certain divorce cases in which reaching an agreement is simply not possible. While family courts have been slow to accept pets as anything more than pieces of property, some cases have shown that it is possible to take the matter before a judge.

For those who are considering asking for pet “custody” in court, it is important to devise the proper legal strategy beforehand. Specifically, evidence should be gathered that proves that a beloved pet belongs to one party more than the other. This can come in the form of proof that one party brought the animal into the relationship from the outset, or that the animal was purchased by one spouse.

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Paul R. Panico

Attorney at Law
2929 Kenny Road, Suite 160
Columbus, OH 43221

Phone: 614-429-1945
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