Family Law

If you’re currently going through a Family Law matter such as a divorce or a child custody battle, you already know how difficult it can be to keep your emotions in check. You may be having a hard time making decisions or reaching resolutions with your spouse, partner, or family member.

As a family attorney, Susan J. Lax understands what you’re going through and wants to reassure you that having such complex feelings during your legal matter is completely normal. After all, the decisions you make now will change your life for many years to come.

Getting a family law Attorney involved in your situation doesn’t mean that you want to start or continue a conflict; it simply means that you’re ready to work toward a resolution so that you can move forward.

Divorce/Dissolution of Marriage

Divorce is defined as the legal separation of two people affected by the judgment or decree of a court, and either totally dissolving the marriage relation, or suspending its effects so far as concerns the cohabitation of the parties. (Black’s Law Dictionary Sixth Edition)

Divorce and related legal matters can be overwhelming. If you’re going through a divorce, you probably have a lot weighing on your mind. Susan J. Lax can guide you through the legal issues related to your divorce so that you can focus on moving forward with your life.

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Separation Agreement

Separation agreements are used to divide/settle any property, debt, alimony, child custody, child support, visitation, insurance, and tax issues that may lie between two parties. It can be submitted to the court prior to a divorce proceeding or can be considered by the presiding Judge in the final divorce hearing.

There are three general situations in which Separation Agreements are used: (1) when a married couple has decided to separate for the time being, but are not ready for a divorce so they can document when they started independent living arrangements and so that they can divide their family and financial responsibilities while they are separated. (2) when a married couple has decided to divorce and already know how they would like their assets, debts, properties, and responsibilities broken down for their children. Instead of a court deciding how to divide the responsibilities they chose to create a Separation Agreement and can submit it to the court to become a part of the Divorce Decree or Dissolution Decree. (3) if a married couple wants to live separate and apart permanently but maintain their legal relationship status of being married, also known as a legal separation.  There may be health or religious reasons to choose a legal separation instead of a divorce.

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Shared Parenting Plans

A Shared Parenting Plan is a plan that sets the arrangements for the parenting of a minor child or children. Both parents are residential parents, however, there is not always an equal split of time.  One parent is designated the residential parent for school purposes under Ohio law.  The courts have a schedule for a standard parenting arrangement.  This is usually used in situations where one parent is the primary residential parent and the other has standard parenting time.

There are many different factors that the court considers when determining the best interests of the child, including, but not limited to the physical living arrangements, child support obligations, medical and dental care, school placement, and where the child(ren) will stay during legal holidays, school holidays, and other days of special importance.

Because of all the different avenues a court considers with drafting shared parenting, it might   take a lot of pressure off of you by finding an attorney that is well versed with the drafting of shared parenting plans. Having Susan J. Lax on your side will take some of the stresses away due to her abundance of experience helping families find the best working arrangement for their children.

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Spousal Support

“Spousal Support (alimony) means any payment or payments to be made to a spouse or former spouse, or to a third party for the benefit of a spouse or a former spouse, that is both for sustenance and for support of the spouse or former spouse. [It] does not include any payment made to a spouse or former spouse, or to a third party for the benefit of a spouse or former spouse that is made as part of a division or distribution of property or a distributive award” – ORC 3105.18 (A).  Each party in a divorce is considered to have contributed equally to the production of marital income.

Under Ohio law the courts may consider the following factors in making decisions about alimony awards:

  • The income of the parties from all sources, including, but not limited to, income gained from property divided, disbursed, or distributed;
  • The relative earning abilities of the parties;
  • The ages and physical, mental, and emotional conditions of the parties;
  • The retirement benefits of the parties;
  • The duration of the marriage;
  • The extent to which it is appropriate for the custodian of a minor child to remain in the home and not seek outside employment;
  • The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage;
  • The relative extent of education of the parties;
  • The relative assets and liabilities of the parties, including but  not limited to, ant Court-ordered payments by the parties;
  • The contribution of each party to the education, training, or earning ability of the other party;
  • The time and expense necessary for the spouse who is seeking spousal support  to acquire education, training, or job experience so that the spouse will be qualified to obtain appropriate employment, provided the education, training, or job experience, and employment is, in fact, sought;
  • The tax consequences for each party;
  • The lost ability to earn income by either party because of that party’s marital responsibilities;
  • Any other factor that the Court expressly finds to be relevant and equitable.

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Modification of Spousal Support

  • In order for the Court to be able to change/modify spousal support, the Decree of Divorce, Dissolution or Separation Agreement must contain a specific written provision giving the Court the authority to modify the amount or terms of spousal support [O.R.C. 3105.18(E)].
  • To modify spousal support, the Court must first find a change of circumstances which includes, but is not limited to, any increase or voluntary decrease in either party’s wages, salary, bonuses, living expenses, or medical expenses.  [O.R.C. 3105.18(F)].

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Child Support

Child support is court-ordered funds to be paid by one parent (“obligor” or “payor”) to the other parent (“obligee” or “payee”) of a minor child after divorce (dissolution) or separation. Usually the dollar amounts are based on the income of both parents, the number of children, the expenses of the custodial parent, and any special needs of the child. In many states or locales the amount is determined by a chart which factors in all these figures.

Child-related legal matters can be devastating. That’s why Susan J. Lax does everything possible to bring about a positive resolution to your child support case while minimizing stress and hassle.

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Post Decree Matters

When a divorced couple has issues after the final divorce hearing they file a contempt motion to enforce a prior order because the other party is violating it.

There are four main issues that are handled with post decree motions, they are: (1) custody modification (2) parenting time (3) spousal support maintenance (4) child support; however, there are numerous other reasons for a post decree motion.

If you have any questions concerning post decree matters Susan J. Lax will use her years of knowledge to come up with a plan that will benefit you in the most accomplishing ways.

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Child Custody/Visitation

There are usually five (5) types of child custody available, they are:

  1. Physical Custody
  2. Legal Custody
  3. Joint Custody
  4. Sole Custody
  5. Grandparent Visitation and Custody

When divorcing, parents have to have a written plan (separation agreement, shared parenting plan, etc.) outlining where the child(ren) will live, non-custodial parent visitation, who makes what decisions, holiday and vacation schedules, and how vacation time is split between parents among many other decisions.

The main point to remember when making any type of agreement or schedule pertaining to the child(ren) is that what is being decided must be in the best interest of the child(ren).

Susan J. Lax understands this is a challenging time and believes that you deserve attentive, individualized service from your initial consultation to the resolution of your case which is why, if you need help, you should start with Attorney Lax.

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Paternity/Father’s Rights

Paternity is the legal process of establishing the father of a child.

There are many different issues that can arise, especially when fathers are not married to their child’s mother.

If you, or someone you know, need help figuring out your rights as a Father, Susan J. Lax, will take the time to go over your issues and help you reach a resolution smoothly and efficiently.

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Grandparents Rights

Grandparents usually have two basic rights

  1. Visitation
  2. Custody


Every state has different rules requiring courts to consider the best interests of the child before awarding custody or visitation to Grandparents. In Ohio a court could grant visitation rights if the parents of the child are deceased, divorced, separated, or were never married to each other, as long as they show an interest in the child’s welfare and wellbeing.

If you are in a situation where your grandchild(ren) are being kept from you or where they might not be safe and you would like to obtain custody, Susan J. Lax will sit down with you and implement a plan of action to help figure out what your rights and options are.

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Prenuptial Agreements

A prenuptial agreement (prenup) is an agreement two people make before marriage that states each person’s assets and that also states what each person would keep or receive in the event of a divorce or death.

Prenuptial agreements are usually used to protect the assets of those who are wealthy but they can also be used for families that own a business or anyone that has $30,000 or more in stock, savings, or other areas.

If you are considering a prenup call Susan J. Lax and she can help you figure out an agreement that is flexible but can protect the assets that are important to you and your future spouse.

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