2467 101413 gs2467It is never easy to be a parent. Divorce is even worse, especially when children are involved. It will be even harder when you have full custody of your children. Nevertheless, getting full custody does not mean that you should quit your job. If you need legal representation for child custody or divorce, Kerns & Sims Attorneys at Law in Worthington, OH can help. There are many things that you can do that will help your strike a balance between work and your children. Here are some of the things that you should do to balance between work and children when you have full custody.

Create a Flexible Work Place

When you have full custody of your kids, you should create a flexible workplace that allows your children to spend some time with you while you are at the work place. If possible, you can create an area where the children can hang out when they come to see you. Alternatively, you can take your kids to a daycare center that is close to your workplace so that you can check on them from time to time. This will not only help you spend more time with your children, but will also help you have peace of mind while working because you know exactly where your children are.

Do Not Be Too Proud ToAsk For Help

It is impossible to be at two places at the same time. Your children are important to you. Your work is important as well. When work demands a lot of time and your children need care, you should never be too proud to ask for help. An extra hand will help you attend to the needs of your job knowing that your children have someone to take care of them. It still takes a village to raise a child. You can ask another parent to take care of your children when you are working and return the favor when you have free time. You can also hire a nanny to take care of the children when you are out working.

4997 101413 gs4997A growing trend has shown that the majority of successful attorneys have reached the highest levels of success in the courtroom by utilizing several factors. These factors, according to different attorneys, are not acquired in a single court hearing but developed and nurtured slowly until they become part of an attorney’s character.

Whenever a lawyer is in the courtroom, he or she is expected to have the knowledge on how to deal with the opponent’s lawyer, as well as the judge. Nevertheless, your behavior also plays a huge role in the results achieved.

Always Stay Informed

For lawyers, they must stay updated with what is going on in your case in order to stand out amongst the rest and to utilize other cases to benefit yours. For instance, a bankruptcy lawyer must know where your case stands and be able to apply previous, similar case scenarios to your particular situation, in order to have the upper hand in court.

In your particular situation, you must also stay informed and communicate regularly with your lawyer. Attending a court date blindly and assuming your lawyer will handle it all is the worst mistake you can make. You must know where you stand and know the elements of the case in order to be prepared at all times.

Keep Yourself Well Groomed

A professional appearance is not only important for lawyers in order to maintain a level of respect and seriousness, but also for you. Showing up in court in a pair of new blue jeans does not create that sense of seriousness that the judge wants to see, nor does it create a sense of responsibility that can provide forgiveness or more lenient outcomes. A suit is always the best route to go, but at the least; consider casual dress attire like a polo shirt and khakis. A t-shirt is definitely not the way to go.

You should also maintain a clean appearance when in court. Keep that head of yours looking fresh, cleaned, and combed. This will also show a sense of responsibility and seriousness. Maintain a well-manicured beard and/or mustache as well if you opt to have one or the other.

Maintain Calmness

It’s always important to show calmness in court whenever your opponent is raising their arguments or presenting statements to the judge. Never interrupt as that is a sign of disrespect and can also make you look guilty even if you are not. Let the other side raise their concerns without interjecting. After they finish, you and/or your attorney will be granted a chance to speak your part. Attorneys always maintain calmness and respect in the courtroom. You should too.

If you need representation for bankruptcy, divorce, wills, or any other family matters; contact Kerns & Sims Attorneys at Law in Worthington, OH.

axstj-divorceagreementimg 8248-1013-1609When you’re in the middle of divorce, there can be all kinds of thoughts and concerns going through your mind. It’s important to have an experienced lawyer for divorce there to help lead you through the potential obstacles and to make the process as smooth as possible.

It’s also important, though; to take care of yourself. The stress of a divorce can leave you feeling wiped out, but these tips might help:

Expect it to take some time. There’s always a chance that your divorce will go incredibly smoothly, but there’s also a chance it could be more difficult than you originally expected. Go in hopeful, but prepare yourself in case it takes some time to work out all of the details.

When you’re prepared for the process, it can be much easier to work through it and overcome the little bumps along the way.

Take time for yourself. Divorce is a stressful time, so make sure you set aside time to keep your body and mind healthy. Most importantly, do things that make you happy. Plugging into the things you love most can be a great stress reliever and put you in touch with automatic stress relief—when you take time for yourself, everything will feel more secure!

Surround yourself with supportive people. From your divorce lawyer to your friends and family, find the people that support you most. A good lawyer should seek to keep you informed and fight for you when necessary.

When it comes to your family and friends, spend the most time with those who listen to you and respect your needs. These will be the ones who will offer you the most support and will lend a hand when you need it, and you will be grateful for their help.

If you need a divorce lawyer in the Worthington, OH area, you won’t find one more supportive and knowledgeable than Kerns & Sims.

Divorce or separation is always hard to deal with. The children have to deal with it too. If you follow through with a divorce or become separated from your partner, child rights can be a big challenge to deal with. Nobody wants to lose their rights to their own children. The children usually do not want to lose the right to see both parents. Child rights can be complicated and even if you already have visitation rights, they can still become void in many ways.

Relocation of the Child

If you currently have rights to see your child and the child’s other parent relocates your visitation/parental rights can be lost if not modified. Because of the move, your child’s needs change and so does the visitation or custody agreement. First off, when a child moves out of the state, your visitation or custody rights need to be modified in order to remain effective. A family lawyer can guide you through the process and ensure everything is properly executed.

Divorce

If you and your partner are planning to file for divorce, you need to make sure that custody, parental, or visitation rights are negotiated into a parenting plan that both parties can accept. You don’t want your rights to be removed due to the divorce process and by negotiating; you can work out a fair plan of action. Your divorce lawyer will handle the process effectively and properly to ensure a seamless transaction before divorce if officially filed.

Addiction Prevention

If you become addicted to alcohol or any type of drug like heroin, cocaine, marijuana, etc.; your rights to your child can be removed by the court. The best plan of action is to stay away from potential addictions. If you are already suffering from an addiction, seek help immediately because your rights to your child are on the line. The best decision is to avoid circumstances that promote those addictions altogether. But if you already suffer from an addiction, it is important to show that you are doing something about it. The family lawyer can help you keep those visitation or custody rights through several avenues like psych evaluations, clinic enrollment, etc.

Obey the Rules

In addition to the issues previously mentioned, the breaking of any rules or laws ordered by the court can revoke parental or visitation rights. If you are the one who broke a rule, you will lose your rights so be careful and follow the law properly. If your former partner breaks any rules, it could affect parental rights for them too, but you must have the capability of earning visitation/parental rights in order to maintain them.

In summary, the law is built to protect the child or children from potential dangers or harm. Laws are also meant to be developing actions for legal and/or mutual agreements to parental, visitation, or custodial rights for children. With that in mind, you want to do everything you can and know as much as you can about maintaining your custodial, parental, or visitation rights for your child or children.

It is highly advised to try to resolve the issues that do exist within the marriage before seeking to get a dissolution. A dissolution of the marriage itself should be viewed as being a last resort efforts when all other channels fail to get the problems in the marriage straightened out properly. Sometimes, despite the best efforts, a marriage still cannot be saved and this is a realization that does exist in marriages that are very troubled and headed towards divorce.

A dissolution of marriage is also called by another name and this other name is divorce. Dissolution of a marriage does tend to take place between two people who cannot resolve their differences. They will tend to feel that they are better off apart and the marriage over and done with on the average. Therefore,

The specific laws do vary in numerous states for the dissolution of a marriage. However, there are some general guidelines that must be adhered to whenever seriously thinking about filing for the dissolution of a marriage.

The dissolution of a marriage is a legal thing, and being a legal thing, it is crucial to make sure that it is something you do want to do. Also, you do need to determine what type of divorce is best for you and your circumstances, and this can be done by knowing your requirements are for the divorce. There are two forms of dissolution of marriage. These two forms are no other than regular and simplified dissolution. Simplified dissolution is also known by the name of summary dissolution. The type of dissolution of a marriage that does involve children is called the regular dissolution. Each state does indeed have its own requirements for a dissolution of a marriage.

You can get in touch with the local clerk of your court for all the required paperwork. Nonetheless, you should endeavor to file for a dissolution of a marriage with the help of a divorce lawyer, and no one else. This is because a divorce attorney is the right expert that you do need to get your divorce papers filed and your case set up to have its day in court.

This is a question which if often asked and poorly understood. There are a lot of misconceptions that are floating around this question.

Here are the facts.

Divorce is a state matter and rarely referred to the Federal government. Also, the United States does not have treaty or understanding over the recognition of divorce proceeding s with any country.

The validity of the divorce in a foreign country is recognized if both the parties have followed proper procedures and at least one of them should have domicile in the foreign country in question at that time.

There have been cases where none of the parties involved could prove a domicile in the country and those divorces were rejected as invalid.

Foreign or migratory divorces can be of four kinds. They can be ex parte, bilateral, void or practical recognition. Out of these, most courts do not recognize the ‘void’ category as it is done without the knowledge of one of the parties involved.

All questions regarding the legality of divorce can be got from the Attorney General’s office in the state or the need may arise to hire a private divorce lawyer.

Some people also were under the impression that a foreign divorce has to register in the US embassy or consulate if present in that nation, however this is not the case.

A copy of the divorce paper is necessary and it needs to authenticate by the proper authorities of that country so that it can admitted in a US court if necessary. These papers should be translated in English and if possible, those too should be authenticated.

In most of the cases if both the parties are present, or the absent party is informed and given proper notice then the divorce proceedings should be considered valid in USA.

As stated earlier the clinching point should be that at least one of the parties should be able to prove legal domicile in the country at the time of divorce proceedings.

Divorce in itself is a very real struggle, upset, and also a difficult task. How to properly divide property, assets, and debt after a divorce is something that isn't easy, but it is possible, if you make it so. The best way to get property, assets, and any debts divided up equally after a divorce may require the help of a highly qualified legal professional such as a divorce lawyer. Therefore, if you and your ex cannot divide up everything amicably, the next step is to consult a divorce attorney right away. It is a divorce lawyer who can protect each party's interests in the divorce and to make sure that you get treated fairly.

If two people can divvy up properly in a mutually agreeable fashion between them, the court will allow them to do so, and give them the considerable space that they do need to get it done properly. However, not all two people in a divorce will do this on their own, because they are usually fighting over what they feel is theirs from the course of the marriage. Therefore, with this said, nine times out of ten it is a divorce lawyer who has to go after what it is that he or she feels that they personally obtained during the time of said marriage.

Dividing up property, assets, and debts after a divorce has been filed can be a real challenge. Some states go according to the community property standard, and others, may have other defined rules for divorce. So, with this said, you do need to look into what the laws are for your specific state regarding this subject. If you and your soon to be ex cannot divide up everything in a friendly way.

The next step to highly recommend is for you and your soon to be ex to get divorce lawyers. Sometimes, getting legal representation for yourself is the only answer, as you don't want to get cheated out of what is rightfully yours from the marriage or what you feel may be rightfully yours for whatever reason. A divorce attorney handles not just the divorce itself. They also make sure you get what is coming to you by law, and from the marriage too, because it is right for you to get it. They fight for your rights and are there for you legally on all fronts.

An estate plan is an important thing to consider, especially when you own a business or lands and  properties that can be of value for your family. Legal rights and entitlement to any kind of property entails legal issues that should be carefully thought through and planned in advance. “Estate” is a term that is usually used in rights, wills, and other context and refers to the individuals assets alone.

If you’re unsure how to start the process, a good family law or business attorney can get you started. In the Worthington, Ohio area, Ralph A. Kerns can help.

Hedging the Family's Financial Conditions from Eventualities

Planning and anticipating certain devastating events that could lead to removal of properties can be helpful, especially for family members. Arrangements made for estate disposal to another person can be made in advance to ease the transition after a person’s passing. Planning is a neat way to secure every member in the family should the need of appropriation of assets come to rise.

Protecting the Business from the Aftermath of Possible Bankruptcy

A smooth sailing business does not make it less susceptible to bankruptcy and other possible disasters; it’s impossible to predict what will happen. Certainly passing the business to ensure its continuity is something to consider. Some conflicts do result from such legal instances and these are common.  The best way to confront these issues is to plan ahead to avoid mired and weakened legal processing. Certain asset transfers should be discussed with the involved parties concerning necessary grounds to determine the most important information to be included In the will.

The absence of an estate plan can put your assets in jeopardy. Some state laws have the higher ability to determine the rightful designation of properties when the owner has passed or the state itself takes the property. Having an estate plan is necessary for securing your assets for your family.

Just like the name suggests, a bankruptcy attorney handles cases related to bankruptcy. A bankruptcy lawyer should ideally have experience in representing clients faced with bankruptcy cases. Below are some of the roles of bankruptcy attorneys:

Consultation. A bankruptcy attorney has the opportunity of assessing your financial situation and discussing some of the debt relief options available. They also seek to understand the financial goals of their clients while having the first consultation meeting.

Handle Creditors. Once you have hired your preferred bankruptcy lawyer, your attorney will basically handle your creditors on your behalf. Some legal professionals also take calls from creditors for their clients.

Preparations/Filing Bankruptcy Petition.Your appointed lawyer has the responsibility of filing the bankruptcy petition, often viewed as a major task. Furthermore, the lawyer will examine the petition prior to filing it with a court that handles bankruptcy cases. This is done to ensure all assets and creditors are all listed while ensuring no mistakes are made.

A bankruptcy lawyer keeps you out of trouble—making any false declarations could easily get you into a lot of trouble. Moreover, hiding money while faced with a bankruptcy case only increases your chances of being for committing fraud thus making your financial situation even worse. A good lawyer can handle your situation professionally and legally without necessarily resorting to falsehoods or fabrications.

Legal Representation. Your bankruptcy lawyer has the responsibility of representing you in a court of law to negotiate with creditors, however; it does not necessarily stop there—your lawyer will still offer his help even after the case is complete.  They often assist clients in complying with terms set for the bankruptcy or safeguarding their clients from creditors who make attempts at collecting discharged debts.

Any small mistakes in a case involving bankruptcy could possibly lead to major problems. For this reason, consult a competent bankruptcy attorney like Ralph A. Kerns in Worthington, Ohio, to handle your case.

Valid reasons to divorce refer to circumstances under which a person can be granted divorce. Each country or state has its own grounds for granting divorce. The person applying for divorce should prove without doubts that the reason is well founded. Below are 4 valid reasons to divorce. 

Adultery

Divorce can be granted if the person provides sufficient proof that the other person had sexual relations with a third party. Proof for adultery can be presented using documented evidence or any other that shows that the act was committed. Even in religious teachings, adultery is taken as a major reason why two people who are married are allowed to part ways. 

Cruelty

Proof of regular infliction of severe mental or physical suffering or cruelty by one partner on the other is enough ground for divorce. In order for divorce to be granted on ground of cruelty, the filing spouse must show that cruelty has made the marriage intolerable. This must be deliberate and calculated cruelty and should not be provoked by the partner who is filing for divorce. Acts that demonstrate cruelty include physical attacks, false accusations, insults and other recurrent acts that cause some sort of suffering.  

Desertion or abandonment 

If one partner in a marriage abandons the household voluntarily without justification or no intention to return is a sufficient ground for divorce to be granted. The party abandoning the household must also have done that without consent. There are also some incidences whereby refusal to have sexual relations can be considered as abandonment leading to granting of divorce. 

Criminal conviction 

Imprisonment and criminal conviction is sufficient grounds for divorce to be granted. The filing spouse must prove that the other partner has been convicted of a crime. In most cases, the convicted spouse should be sentenced for life for the divorce to be permitted under criminal conviction. 

Having a visitation schedule that works is a major concern during a divorce between parents. Both parents usually aim at getting to spend equal time with the children. Making visitation work best is achieved when the schedule is planned out in prior and each parent knows the expectations. When establishing a visitation plan, the parents should share their major challenges and find resolutions.

A good visitation schedule needs to rotate throughout the year. This ensures the schedule remains stable and reliable. Parents can choose among the many schedules that can work for both of them. Most people try alternating every one or two weeks, which works best for those who stay close to each other. The schedule can also have both parents share a few days each in a week. A schedule should be made considering the children especially their stability during school year. 

Holidays can also be utilized in making visitation work. They help recover for the time lost by any of the parents during school weeks. One of the parents can have more time with the children during holidays. However, if the schedule gives both parent equal time, then holidays can be divided equally. For example, a Christmas holiday can be spent equally with one parent taking the morning hours and the other afternoon hours. A visitation schedule is effective when it works for both parents and the children.

In addition to holidays, visitations for school breaks and vacations can also be considered. This is another way to equally share time between parents. It is not a must to have the same schedule for both summer and school year. Flexibility is important in making visitation work as each parent should have time with the children during vacations.

Co-parenting can also help in making visitation work. With co-parenting, both parents need to establish proper communication and be hard working. An all-inclusive calendar makes co-parenting interesting and fun for both the parents and children.

A Grandparent's rights

It has been said that breakups are ugly, and there truly is some truth to this. When couples go through the ugly legal exercise that is divorce their children are usually the real victims. Kids have no choice as to which parent they're going to be living with. It's not like they can live with their grandparents can they? Well, actually they can. If you're a grandparent and you're close with your grandchildren then you can actually take part in the battle for their custody. However there are prerequisites and certain criteria that need to be fulfilled before the court does award you with the custody of your grandchild/grandchildren.

Prerequisites

So what are grandparent’s rights after a custody battle then? One way that you could be awarded for your grandchild's custody is if both the parents are found by the court to be unfit to take care of him or her. However, before the court were to award you with custody there are prerequisites that need to be fulfilled. First would have to be your familiarity with your grandchild. This means that they need to have lived with you for a certain amount of time. The child should also consent with staying with his or her grandparent. If these prerequisites are not followed then you can expect the court to deny you custody. But even though this might be the case, there are still some scenarios where you can gain custody of your grandchild.

What else should you know?

If you're the only capable next of kin that has the financial and emotional clout to provide a normal life for the child then the court should see no reason to deny you the privilege of being the child's guardian. This usually happens when both of the child's parents meet an early demise. It's always important for one to know their rights. Not having any knowledge of the law is not an excuse to give what's best for your grandkids. This is one reason why people need to be more aware of what the grandparent’s rights are after a custody battle. One way of showing responsibility of your child's mistakes is by taking care of their own children.

Can life be ok after a divorce? The response lies in this long article because the question is complicated. A divorce is a legal separation. The separation may be a reconciliation that the two of you need to forfeit the responsibilities you have for one another as husband and wife. Life has to be ok after divorce. The law is particularly intended to provide the platform within which the two protagonists find life spiritually, emotionally, practically and financially after the marriage breaks. 

Think about it. Divorce is not the end of a marriage. A marriage by definition ends when the connection between the two of you is no more. Basically, marriage breaks then divorce handles the break up in a way that attempts to ensure that an amicable settlement is reached for both parties. Divorce is the start of a new life after break up in marriage. 

That sounds technical and insensitive. In reality, if you are divorced, a feeling of finality comes in. Finality may be in the context of your emotional connection to your spouse, companionship, and even support. It is highly likely that all these factors if withdrawn at once your life may end or may seem to. But life can be ok after a divorce if the process is well managed. 

After divorce you will lose the company of your spouse and in some cases a big part of your family. You do not have to worry. After divorce, there are provisions within which you can still see your family. You can get access to your children even after divorce. The company that you will miss may not be consistent but you can get enough time and visit for your life to be ok. 

Following a divorce, you may lose your house and other important property and finances that you need. You may be forced to pay for the upkeep of some of your children. However, divorce is not that insensitive nor are the laws that govern it. In any settlement, you will be awarded enough to keep life ok for you. The law will interpret the dispute in the context of your situation.

Emotional issues that emerge from divorce may be managed by getting distractions. Consider getting a hobby, trying new things, taking up plans, focus on your job, keeping people around, and if the situation is bad, get the services of a professional. You will realize that life has to go on and there are other things in life other than whatever you are missing after the divorce. If you ask me, can life be ok after a divorce? My answer is definitely yes because it was ok before marriage. 

Avoiding divorce is a very complicated task that requires a lot of self-dedication and an important series of qualities, because you need to consider numerous aspects of your actual marriage, as well as your spouse’s needs and expectations. Always remember that it takes two to tango, so it is not enough to be only one partner who is completely dedicated to the relationship.

A 2012 study discovered that medical bills are the leading cause of credit card debt. Since medical and credit card debt are two of the main reasons people file for bankruptcy, it’s no surprise the two are so tightly linked.

It does, however; raise questions about how this affects average families.

How Often Does it Happen?

It turns out that almost half of low- to moderate-income households currently have an average of $1,678 in out-of-pocket medical payments on their credit cards, and more than 75% of those families have used their credit card for those payments in the past three years.

There is a small bright side: the average debt of an American family was down from $9,887 in 2008 to $7,145 in 2012, but a whopping 40% of households use credit cards to pay for the most basic of needs, including mortgage payments and groceries.

How Does Medical Debt Affect a Family?

There are two ways that medical debt affects families. First, as revealed in the study, it drives credit card debt up, forcing families to pay for the medical expenses and the interest it creates on the credit card.

Secondly, the study also discovered that half of the families with medical debt on their credit cards have skipped filling a prescription or seeing a doctor over concern for the cost of the care.

Debt of any kind takes a toll on a family, and sometimes you can find yourself in far over your head for something you can’t possibly help. At these times, it’s okay to push the reset button with the right bankruptcy plan to get you back on your feet. 

Family law is a field that involves so many different aspects, it often is misunderstood. Sometimes its believed to only concern one issue; other times its broadened beyond what it actually means.

What does family law actually include? Most of it concerns things that directly effect families or those living together.

Divorce

Divorce is easily the most recognizable area of family law. Strictly speaking, it is the legal termination of a marriage. However, it also includes all of the aspects that go into that marriage, including alimony, distribution of assets, and child support and custody.

In fact, these other issues often stretch on longer and take a bigger toll on the divorcing parties than the divorce itself.

Not Just Marriage

Sometimes, two people involved in a separation or custody case aren’t married partners. Cohabitants with shared assets who split, for instance; often need guidance on how to separate their assets when they go their separate ways.

Non-married parents also often need guidance when it comes to determining child custody, support, and visitation when they are not able to come to an agreement.

Additional Issues

In addition to these separations, there are also family law cases that are just as important: adoptions, grandparents’ visitation rights, and pre-nuptial agreements, for instance.

Because family law incorporates so many different parts that are extremely big parts of someone’s life, there are multiple areas of knowledge family lawyers have, from an understanding of financial planning and handling estates to how family issues effect their client’s well-being.

If you are looking for a family lawyer, it’s best to choose one who has experience in all of these areas, because a working, well-rounded knowledge of many possible situations will give your lawyer unique insight.

In Ohio, state law permits no-fault divorces, which allows just one spouse to file irreconcilable differences between both parties. On the other hand, Ohio allows for fault divorces too, which can be based on grounds such as willful absence of the other party if over 1 year, bigamy, adultery, fraudulent contract, intense cruelty, incompatibility issues, etc. It is important to obtain a family divorce lawyer to ensure any legal aspects get covered properly and effectively.

During the court sessions, either one of the spouses can request it or the judge can simply order on his or her own that both parties attend reconcile counseling. This order gets called upon when children are involved and the divorce will not get finalized until the court hears the results of the required counseling.

If considering filing for divorce, Ohio is an equity distributing state so all marital properties will be divided between the 2 spouses. Marital properties does not include individually owned items, such as gifts, property owned before marriage, family inheritances, and even items listed in a prenuptial agreement.

Aside from that, the party filing for divorce must have resided in Ohio for at least 6 months before filing the case. Other issues that may be raised in court include alimony, child support, and even custody assignments. Depending on both parties involved in the divorce, the court case can last a long time or simply end rather quickly. Every circumstance is unique in its own way and various issues or elements often affect the case. When children are involved, it can make things even more complex and detailed, which is something you will have to endure.

When you’re facing foreclosure, there are suddenly a lot of decisions to make, from how to handle the foreclosure itself to packing to where you will live after you leave your home.

It’s also not unusual to have a lot of emotions during a foreclosure—anger, frustration, sadness, regret, embarrassment—that’s completely normal and you are not alone.

At the First Sign

When foreclosure becomes imminent or if it’s already on the move, know that this will be the hardest part of the foreclosure. Everything will feel overwhelming and seem to move too fast.

Think through decisions. Read paperwork. Get help with the foreclosure proceedings to make sure you don’t get put in an even more difficult situation. Knowing and understanding—or having someone who does—the process is important to coming through it smoothly.

Moving On

Once you have worked out the foreclosure details and have walked away from your home, it’s important to focus on what comes next.

First, know that you aren’t alone. Many people deal with foreclosure every year, and like them, you will come out on the other side!

Second, make new memories. It’s easy to get caught up in the memories of your old house, so set out to do things in your new place. Decorate, play a game, invite friends over, watch a movie—do things together with your family and friends to feel more connected to your new home.

If you have any questions or concerns about foreclosure, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Foreclosure lawyers know how to help you get the best possible outcome from your foreclosure and make things easier for you in the long run!

"Everyone thinks, ‘Oh, they just went out and spent too much,’ but that’s not really the majority of people in bankruptcy,” Jennifer Hartman of Greenleaf Financial told the LA Times.

The country’s economic problems extended to people across the nation, and bankruptcy rates started to increase with the slump.

Bad Timing

One of those who filed bankruptcy was Jane Osick. While her mother was ill, she refinanced her mom’s house. When her mother passed away, she and her sister remodeled the house to sell, accruing a $120,000 debt.

When the house was finally remodeled, buyers disappeared as the real estate market dried up. When it was over, Osick found herself filing Chapter 13 and starting over.

Back on Your Feet

Bankruptcy might be a scary step for a lot of people, but if it’s necessary, it can be the best thing for getting back on track. For Osick, it both made her debt manageable and gave her a new direction and a new drive.  

In fact, despite her $525 bankruptcy payments, she has enough saved for a six-month emergency fund. Once she is fully back on her feet, her plan is to get a condo and a car—but she wants to make sure she’s back on track first.

If you’re looking at filing bankruptcy, in the end you want to walk away with hope and a plan for the future, to get your financial feet back under you and find ways to not only recover from the bankruptcy, but improve your economic situation and get back on the right track.

It’s not only possible, it’s probable—Osick and others like her prove it every day!

There are a world of things to consider when you get a divorce: children, belongings, home. It’s important to get someone who’s on your side; the right kind of divorce lawyer doesn’t just do the paperwork—they listen and help you sort out the details.

One of those details is the house you and your spouse may have owned prior to the divorce. How do you decide who gets to keep the house? Does anyone keep it? Where will you go?

Mandy’s Story

One woman was faced with the same questions when she and her husband were divorced. Mandy Walker spoke to AOL Real Estate about her situation.

She decided that it would be best for her and her teenage children to downsize from their large house to a mid-sized home. The couple agreed to sell their house, but they hit a snag when it didn’t sell easily.

Mandy found a house that fit her before the house sold, and she and her kids were delighted to move in and have all settled in comfortably. And, after leasing it for two years, they finally got a buyer for their old home.

The kids—especially Mandy’s daughter—love the new home as they feel more connected to each other there. For Mandy’s part, she feels happier now in her house with her children.

When a divorce is on the table, every situation and detail can seem overwhelming, and there are a lot of ideas and terms that float around during that time. One of them you might hear is “collaborative law.”

Collaborative law involves both parties sitting down with their lawyers to discuss every aspect of the divorce together, considering and deciding on each element as a team. For couples who are in agreement and prepared to sit down to look at everything together, a collaborative approach is often a smoother, more satisfactory way to resolve the details of the divorce.

The Benefits of Collaboration

Collaboration comes with certain benefits that make it a great choice if it works for your situation. Here are some reasons to consider it:

  • Doesn’t have to involve the court. For a lot of couples, being able to decide with each other what is best without a judge’s decision will result in a more complete, acceptable agreement for both parties.
  • Mutual respect. When both parties come to the table respectfully, the entire divorce proceeding is less stressful, making a difficult situation much easier for everyone involved.
  • Keeping children protected. Collaboration allows for children to be kept away from the discussion and details, making the transition easier for them as well.

Collaborative law doesn’t work in every situation, but for those in which it does work, it can mean a great deal. It does require a measure of compromise and understanding, but a good team can work with each other to come to the right results. 

A good collaborative lawyer will have the insight and the wisdom to look at both sides and provide direction to help result in the best possible outcome for everyone—that’s the ultimate benefit of collaboration. 

Ohio residents who are in the middle of a divorce, are currently seeking a divorce, or have been divorced understand that alimony is an issue that can cause a lot of stress. Alimony payments are typically made in an attempt to help a nonworking spouse after a divorce. It can also be awarded to a spouse who makes less than the other and needs some financial help after the separation.

But one state may pass a law that could change the way alimony is awarded and in turn effect a change that could impact more states across the nation.

The piece of legislation has already passed in the state's House and is set to go before the Senate for a vote. If it passes, it will prohibit the award of lifetime alimony. This proposed law arose after alimony guidelines were attacked for being too outdated.

In fact, other states have taken steps to make changes in their alimony guidelines in order to take into account both genders, employment opportunities available, and the economic crisis. The spouse ordered to make alimony payments for life may think that it is unfair, especially if the receiving spouse could support themselves financially. The question becomes: should lifetime alimony even be an option?

Alimony is intended to help a spouse, particularly if they gave up a career in order to help raise a family regardless of whether it was the husband or wife. After a divorce, the nonworking spouse has been out of the job market for a while and is now competing with many more individuals who are unemployed and have the same or even more experience. Should alimony payments end once that spouse finds a job and has an income?

What about income disparity? Should the spouse with the higher income be required to pay alimony to the other spouse, even if the other spouse's income is more than enough to live on? How strict should alimony guidelines be?

Until the bill passes, it will be unclear how prohibiting lifetime alimony payments will impact divorces in that particular state. But if it does pass, how much longer will it be until other states follow suit?

Source: The Wall Street Journal: "Should States Impose Firmer Limits on Alimony Payments?" Nathan Koppel, July 28, 2011.

In real life, couples may find themselves at a point where they want to end their marriage. Ohio couples can seek a divorce or dissolution - both processes that will result in the termination of marriage. There are a lot of things that can cause a couple to drift apart, but are couples surprised when they realize that they cannot reconcile their marriage?

In an interesting article, one author looks at the way Hollywood portrays divorced couples and questions whether this unrealistic portrayal can give both adults and children a false sense of reality in the midst of a divorce.

Storylines in movies often have couples that fight end up divorced only to be reunited through a series of unexpected events. Often the plots have the couple go through countless marital problems only to have them solved by the end of the movie.

Some believe that these plots can give children false hope in real life, especially if the movie involves children. It can give kids the illusion that a divorce or dissolution can be easily solved with humorous situations or simply forcing their parents to spend time together.

Others do not think that happy endings are harmful to children who are caught in the middle of a divorce in real life. Even if the storyline is unlikely, it can help balance out the disappointment of a separation and can be uplifting.

Ultimately, many couples would agree that reconciliation is an ideal outcome. But in reality, a divorce or dissolution is a logical solution, especially if the couple has grown apart. In these types of situations, couples should speak with someone who understands the dissolution process. It will already be an emotional experience; being advised on how to handle the different issues that can arise will help everyone involved move forward.

Source: ABC News: "In Movies, No Marriage Woes Are Irreconcilable," Jake Coyle, Aug. 9, 2011.

As we've seen in previous posts, parents who fail to make child support payments on time can face certain penalties. In many instances, the reasons behind the delinquent payments vary - but the outcome is the same. One penalty can be a license suspension.

Drivers in Clinton County, Ohio, who have had their licenses suspended for nonpayment of child support, will have a chance to get their driver's license back. The agency enforcing child support payments is offering an opportunity for a parent to get driving privileges reinstated in an attempt to encourage parents to pay the support.

The amnesty program is being offered by the agency as a part of Child Support Awareness Month. Residents whose driver's licenses are currently suspended for failure to pay child support are eligible to participate.

According to its director, the Clinton County Child Support Enforcement Agency's focus is to help ensure regular support payments for the children that depend on it. About 500 non-custodial parents who are reported as not paying their child support obligation live in Clinton County.

More than a million children in Ohio receive child support paid to the custodial parent. The support money is used to meet both financial and medical obligations on behalf of the children. This helps the custodial parent provide for the children and also instills a sense of responsibility in the non-custodial parent.

Ohio is at the top of the list of states in keeping current with child support collections even though it also has one of the larger caseloads in the country.

Source:  Wilmington News Journal: "Amnesty program offered for driver's license suspensions for non-payment of support," Aug. 2, 2011.

Going through a divorce is inevitably going to impact any children involved. For many kids, a divorce means adjusting from having one life to having two separate lives - one with each parent. Sometimes children have to get used to a custody plan while others learn to live with scheduled visits.

In some situations, one parent has visitation rights that allow him or her to spend time with the children. But for some parents, a phone conversation or a brief visit is not adequate for developing a parent-child relationship.

One parent notes that visitation is difficult. There is no way to fully understand what the child is going through because there is no in-person communication. If the child is having a difficult time in school or is struggling with friends, they may think that their parent doesn't really care because they can't see the reaction when they are talking.

Even when time is spent face-to-face, it can be difficult for the child to adjust back into the presence of the parent. To the child, it may seem like the parent is intentionally not around. This particular parent found that it took a lot of work to connect with her son when they weren't around each other all the time.

But despite the strain in the relationship, most parents would agree that visitation rights are better than not having any interaction with their children at all. Visitation schedules are approved by the court - the parent has to adhere to the schedule laid out unless an agreement is made otherwise.

Ultimately, the judge can determine what sort of custody or visitation plan is in the best interests of the child. Parents may find that even if the time is limited, there are still ways to assure the child that the "absent parent" still loves and cares for them.

Source: Huffington Post: "When Visitation Phone Calls Are All You Have," Sonya Huber, Aug. 3, 2011.

It is no secret that the divorce process can draw a number of different emotions from the people involved. Especially with child custody, the dispute can escalate. One particular case has made national headlines after the husband created a blog named "The Psycho Ex Wife".

The man started the blog in late 2007 to share his account of the divorce he'd been going through for four years, which included an exhausting child custody battle. But now a judge has ordered him to shut the blog down.

The blog attracted a lot of readers in similar situations, drawing about 200,000 visitors a month. Readers would share their own stories with each other and commiserate. But one individual who saw the blog was the man's ex-wife.

The raw content of the blog is what drew criticism from the judge. The man's ex-wife was portrayed in a particularly negative light, making crude comments on her personal choices and habits, amongst other things. Although the man thought that the content was anonymous enough to avoid the attention of his ex-wife and sons, the ex-wife disagreed and brought up the issue in court.

The Family Court judge chastised both parents for their behavior, but ordered the blog to be closed because it crossed the line from venting to cruelty.

While the man is concerned that his rights have been violated, others are more concerned about the impact it has on the family. Psychiatrists have said that despite a divorce, having two parents is still important to the welfare of children, and common courtesy between the parents is part of that. Just because parents are no longer together does not mean that they cannot be civil to one another, especially in front of the children.

While a blog lamenting a messy legal battle may be a legitimate way to discuss frustrations, it may not be best for the children involved.

Source: MSNBC: "Dad behind 'Psycho Ex Wife' blog protests its shutdown," Suzanna Choney, Aug. 8, 2011.

As we've seen in a number of different discussions, divorces and dissolutions can get very messy. When a high-profile couple decides to end their marriage, the situation can escalate given the public nature of the separation.

But one particular couple's dissolution of marriage was finalized with little drama. John and Elaine Mellencamp were married for nearly nineteen years before deciding to go their separate ways. They had two children together as well as a number of assets that they acquired during their marriage.

Often, the combination of a lot of wealth and children can make for a complicated separation. But, as some Ohio residents may already know, going through dissolution of marriage can be an effective solution when choosing to end a marriage. The agreement still ensures that decisions surrounding issues like child custody, property division, and spousal support are made but can guide couples through the process at a much quicker pace.

That may have been the case in the Mellencamp dissolution. Apparently the two attended dissolution seminars to help them through the process which took seven-and-a-half months to finalize. This is a short amount of time compared to some of the other high-profile divorce cases that can take years to reach an agreement.

The couple agreed that Elaine would have primary custody of their two sons while John would pay monthly child support. There is no indication that any spousal support agreement was reached. Even the property division process was simple - the couple had signed a prenuptial agreement prior to getting married.

Dissolution of marriage can be especially beneficial for all involved when the two parties know what they want from the separation. While ending a marriage will always involve complications, keeping it as simple as possible can help the couple as well as their children move forward.

Source: Herald Times Online: "Mellencamps' divorce 'amicable,' property settlement based on prenuptial agreement," Laura Lane, Aug. 16, 2011.

There are a number of different ways that divorce can impact those involved. There are many examples of how the end of a marriage can affect children who had to transition from one home to two. There are also many instances where a divorce can significantly change both parties' financial situations.

But a recent study by Ohio State University looks at the effects of marriage and divorce on the body. Interestingly, research is showing that men and women both gain weight after big life changes, but men gain more weight after divorce while women gain the weight after marriage.

This study supports previous studies and has led to speculation as to the causes. While there is no established answer, one researcher posits that married women are unable to spend as much time exercising because they are taking care of household tasks. As for men, a divorce removes that additional help in tasks, possibly leading to weight gain.

Over a period of 20 years, the study followed over 10,000 people going through marriage or divorce. Data was collected by a survey and analyzed to show weight gain or loss in the two years following either a divorce or marriage.

The results of the study also showed that specific demographics were more impacted after a life change. Weight gain was more prominent among those over 30. It is believed that as one ages, big life changes hit harder and are more difficult to recover from. There also seemed to be a correlation between growing older and changes in weight gain.

For couples who are contemplating a divorce or have already begun the process, this research simply raises an interesting discovery. However it could also be one more thing that the couple takes into consideration during a divorce.

Source: USA Today: "Weight gain hits women after marriage, men after divorce,"Health Day, Aug. 23, 2011.

In our previous post, we discussed the growing concern regarding child custody and international abduction. More non-custodial parents are fleeing the country with their children, while the other parent is left trying to regain custody of the child.

But officials are having a difficult time stopping parents at the border because there is no national database that keeps track of child custody orders. Even with a number of countries party to the 1980 Hague Convention on child abduction treaty, regaining custody of a child taken out of the country can take a long time. So what is current administration doing to address the issue?

While some states have chosen to make international abduction a state crime, current administration is trying to decrease international abduction by pressuring the foreign countries. There are a number of people already dealing with abduction cases involving Mexico and Canada.

Some of the efforts to recover children involve investigators, interpreters and undercover individuals who look for the child and the parent that took the child out of the country. Some situations require the use of official copies of child custody orders as well as proof of birth. But while some children are rescued, many remain unaccounted for.

If countries remain uncooperative, some legislators believe that the approach should be to threaten the countries. For example, if a country is refusing to help and is disregarding U.S. custody orders, they may face additional taxes or even refusal of development assistance.

It is unclear whether this tactic is effective. There has been one case where a child was returned after the country was threatened by U.S. lawmakers. There are few things more devastating than losing a child - it is likely that the nation's current administration will continue efforts in finding these abducted children.

Source: Houston Chronicle online, "What happens if your ex abducts your child?"Stewart M. Powell, 04 July 2011

How long can a child support dispute go on for? In a strange case, a 75-year-old woman is looking to sue her 77-year-old ex-husband for back child support more than thirty years after the two had divorced.

Tied together in legal battles since 1977, the couple has been divorced for 34 years. The man owes the woman thousands of dollars in child support, according to a ruling from December 1977. Since he never paid her, the interest has accrued on the owed amount which has inflated the back child support payments to more than $100,000.

The woman tried calling her ex-husband to get him to settle the dispute. But the phone call was not well-received. Without any resolution with her ex-husband, the woman decided to take the legal route and went before a judge to seek enforcement of the child support agreement.

Normally, court orders from more than three decades ago are not enforceable, but in the case of child support it is just the opposite. The woman did not know this until a few years ago when she was filing lawsuits against her ex-husband for part of the money that came from the sale of their home.

In an attempt to collect the money owed her, she filed a lien motion on a home that was in her ex-husband's name. His mother lived there up until her death when the house was deeded to the man's second wife until she passed away as well. Now the woman is suing the estate for the property.

The woman, who will seek punitive damages on top of the child support owed to her, is bitter because she was forced into applying for welfare after the divorce so that she could support herself and her children.

Source: New York Post online, "75-year-old woman suing 77-year-old ex over unpaid child support 34 years after divorce," Philip Messing, 11 July 2011

For some couples, getting a divorce means a change in lifestyle. Instead of sharing expenses of a home, both spouses have to consider ways that they will support themselves individually. But what if one spouse is not used to working?

For many couples, agreeing on a monthly alimony payment ensures that the spouse who is in a less-than-ideal financial situation can afford food, shelter and other necessities. But figuring out what that amount is can be a source of contention between a previously married husband and wife. One couple that has been in the news lately, Frank and Jamie McCourt, are still disputing how much alimony should be paid.

The McCourts are best known for their bitter divorce and property division dispute regarding who owns the Los Angeles Dodgers. And while a hearing recently determined how the ownership would be distributed between the couple, Frank McCourt is now seeking a spousal support decrease.

Frank McCourt had been ordered by the court to make monthly payments of a quarter-million dollars to his ex-wife as well as make payments on several homes that the couple still owns together. But is that too much?

He believes so and wants the amount decreased to an unknown amount. Jamie McCourt apparently thinks that the amount she has been paid is too little. According to the article, she is seeking nearly $1 million each month in spousal support.

Can Frank McCourt pay this amount? Generally speaking, if one spouse seeks a reduction in spousal support payments, the court will look at the financial situation of both parties to determine if the amount currently being paid is too much or too little.

For Frank McCourt, he wants the court to look at his yearly income and determine how much alimony should be paid from that figure. There is no telling how this spousal support dispute will end. The hearing is scheduled for early next month.

Source: USA Today online, "Dodgers owner seeks lower spousal support payments," Greg Risling, 17 July 2011

U.S. Representative Joe Walsh, who was elected largely on the issue fiscal responsibility, is being sued for $117,437 in unpaid child support. The child support enforcement action was filed by his ex-wife in December.

Walsh's ex-wife claims that the freshman congressman had repeatedly told her he was unable to make child support payments because he had been between jobs. However, it turns out that during the same period Walsh was able to take international vacations, and was able to make a personal loan of $35,000 to his political campaign.

Since he made the loan to his campaign, Walsh has repaid himself $14,200 -- but has yet to make a payment for the support of his three children.

Walsh, who was divorced eight years ago, claims that the press coverage of the child support enforcement lawsuit constitutes a bald political attack. As one of President Obama's most outspoken critics during the debt ceiling crisis, he finds the timing a little too convenient, considering the child support action was filed eight months ago.

Walsh has called himself the "tip of the spear" in the current debate in Congress and believes that is the reason allegations of his unpaid child support have surfaced now.

In a statement, Walsh said he has "always given everything I have to meet my financial obligations to my children," despite the evidence that he had money to spend on other things. He also disputes the amount of unpaid child support his ex-wife has claimed.

Walsh's campaign was also marked by allegations of financial mismanagement. His campaign manager quit and sued Walsh for unpaid wages to the tune of $20,000. A Republican fundraiser has accused Walsh of bouncing checks.

Source: Huffington Post, "Joe Walsh Sued For More Than $100,000 In Child Support," July 28, 2011

There are a lot of reasons that a parent may get behind on monthly child support payments. In some situations, the parent may lose their job and unable to make ends meet, misses a payment. Other times, a parent may relocate and in the business forget to make the payment.

Regardless of the reason, when a parent misses making a payment he or she can face penalties. In fact, Ohio parents who have primary custody of a child can take legal action against the parent paying child support to enforce the payments. But what sort of consequences could result?

Often the parent who is delinquent in making payments will find that their driver's license is suspended. Just last year, nearly 200,000 Ohio parents temporarily lost their driving privileges because they did not pay child support.

While the Ohio Department of Public Safety has not provided any numbers on the number of parents this year, there is at least one man who has had his license suspended because he failed to pay child support. The man is a volunteer firefighter in his township and has been actively volunteering for several years.

The license suspension occurred back in March, but the man did not inform his superiors. Just recently the fire chief learned of the suspension and will not allow the man drive any of the equipment until his license is reinstated.

This is not the first time that the man's license has been suspended due to missed child support payments. Two years ago his license was suspended for the same reason. There is no information about the man's financial situation or why he has been unable to pay child support. But his license may remain suspended until he is able to make the payments.

Source: The Chronicle-Telegram online, "Firefighter's license suspended due to child support issues," Cindy Leise, 09 June 2011

There are several factors that are considered when awarding alimony. Factors such as length of marriage, age of both spouses, and current income are only a few that judges look at when making a decision.

As we've seen in previous posts, the purpose of alimony is to provide financial stability to one spouse while transitioning from marriage to living on his or her own. One man was ordered to pay his ex-wife alimony and appealed the order claiming that paying her alimony for life was not appropriate given the situation.

The man and his ex-wife went through a bitter divorce a few years ago. Their state's court ordered that the man pay over $1000 to his ex-wife each month. Both were in their early 40s when the divorce was made official and had been working for years. In fact, both had relatively high incomes when they separated.

If the alimony award is upheld, the man could potentially pay over $600,000 in spousal support to someone who appears to be able to support themselves. Even though he makes more money than her, should the spousal support award be upheld?

While the court is considering factors such as college education and training that each spouse has had, another option would be to adjust the length of time that the alimony is paid. The biggest concern is whether the ex-wife would be disadvantaged due to the income disparity. Should the award be more of a transitional alimony instead of payments for life?

Until the court reaches a decision, it will be unclear whether this particular case will impact the way alimony can be awarded in the future in this state and whether other states will follow in suit.

Source: Westport News online, "Tenn. Supreme Court hears lifetime alimony case,"Sheila Burke, 02 June 2011

In some custody disputes, the concept of what "parent" means can arise. Is a parent someone who is the biological father or mother of the child? Or is someone who cared for and provided for the child also considered a parent?

Many times these questions are surfaced over the issue of visitation - who has visitation rights? Just recently a woman's visitation rights were denied. The Franklin County Court of Appeals decided that the visitation order was not valid because the woman had been in a same-sex partnership.

The woman had been in a relationship with another woman who had a daughter. Since the two broke up nearly three years ago, they have been fighting over custody of the girl. There had been a shared parenting agreement, but now the mother does not want the woman to have any visitation rights.

The dispute is whether there was a parent-like relationship and whether the woman even has rights to custody of the girl. Though there is a shared parenting agreement in place, the appeals court will not enforce it because under Ohio law, a temporary custody order would only be valid if the two individuals had been married.

This does not mean that the woman has no options. Her fight for permanent shared custody will bring her and the mother of the girl face-to-face in court in early July. The woman believes that her relationship with the girl should not be disrupted.

The broader issue is whether non-biological parents have rights to visitation and custody. Is it enough that the individual acted as a parent? Should visitation rights be granted if the couple was together for a certain amount of time? Or should the biological parent have the right to decide who plays a parent in their child's life?

Source: The Columbus Dispatch online, "Lesbian custody case is complicated,"Meredith Heagney, 11 June 2011

The concept of alimony came from the idea that a husband has a duty to his wife to support her financially if the two get divorced. Even recently, modern society has this same point of view, holding one spouse - typically the husband - responsible for paying alimony to the ex-wife.

But now, the number of women ordered to pay spousal support to their ex-husbands is increasing. There are a number of factors that is believed to have attributed to this rise: gender equality and increased income for women.

Statistically, more than 30 percent of married women have a higher income than their husbands. Historically, men have been the "bread winner" of the family. But as more women establish themselves in the workplace, the role of the "bread winner" has shifted substantially.

Another factor that contributes to the income gap could be the poor economy. As more individuals in general are losing their jobs, families begin relying on the income of one individual, sometimes the mother.

Even the courts could be contributing to this shift in alimony payments. There are a number of more gender neutral factors that courts use to determine which spouse will receive alimony, including:

  • Length of marriage
  • Occupation
  • Education
  • Age of children
  • Relative income

While the number of women earning more than their husbands is indeed growing and more women are paying alimony than in the past, the number of women paying spousal support compared to men is still relatively infrequent. But could this change with time?

In any divorce proceeding where spousal support is a contested issue, both sides need to understand the implications of alimony and how it can affect themselves and their children long-term.

Source: Huffington Post: Divorce online, "Women Increasingly Pay Alimony," Lili A. Vasileff, 09 June 2011

For children, going through a divorce can be equally if not more overwhelming as it is for their parents. Determining how the parents will share custody can be one of the most challenging issues to overcome in a divorce. But even when a shared parenting plan is established, it can be changed.

Depending on the parents' situations, custody agreements can be evaluated and modified. Sometimes this occurs if one parent moves or develops a problem that creates an unsafe environment for the kids. But what happens if the parent is not around as often? Is it in the best interests of the child to maintain a custody plan if one parent is not around? What if that parent is serving in the military?

Recently, Ohio legislation has been proposed that addresses these questions. Currently, it appears that if a parent is absent for a certain amount of time, even if for military service, the custody order could be modified to give the absent parent less time with the child.

This new bill proposes that custody orders can only be changed when the military parent has returned from service. So instead of a parent coming home to find that he or she has less time with the child, the original custody plan would be reinstated upon their return.

Supporters of this bill are certain that this legislation would help protect the rights of a parent who is also in the military without putting the child's best interests at risk. Parents that serve in the military are faced with unique challenges when determining custody plans.

The best interests of the child are at the heart of a custody agreement. Children should be able to see their parents on a consistent basis. Parents who serve in the military should not have their rights decreased simply because they are absent when on active duty. This bill should address the specific needs of these parents.

Source: Examiner: Cincinnati online, "Military child custody legislation introduced,"Harry Prestanski, 24 February 2011

Sometimes in the news, there are stories of parents who try to avoid paying child support. One man even fled to another country to avoid making payments.

There are a number of reasons why a parent may not be able to or want to pay the monthly payments. There could be a shift in finances, especially if the parent was employed and then lost his or her job. The parent may avoid payments because life circumstances have changed and he or she now has more mouths to feed. Or the parent could simply be hurt by the divorce process. Whatever the reason, avoiding child support payments can have certain penalties, as one man recently discovered.

In 2003, the man was ordered to pay child support following his divorce. He and his ex-wife have two children together. The monthly payments were a little over $1,000 yet the man failed to pay the amount over the next several years. This resulted in nearly $100,000 of child support back payments.

When he appeared in court, it was obvious that the judge was not happy with him or the situation. The man was convicted of a gross misdemeanor for his failure to pay child support. As a result, he was sentenced to probation for the next three years and has to begin paying off what he owes in child support.

The court is requiring the man to report his status each month. The man is currently employed but if he loses his job and misses payments, he will be put in jail. After all, the judge reminded him, this kind of situation leads to criminal charges and will result in penalties.

Source: The Record-Courier online, "Deadbeat dad ordered to pay nearly $100,000 in child support," Sheila Gardner, 22 February 2011

Trouble just does not stop for famous actor Charlie Sheen. Anyone following the news recently has seen news of his tirades after his estranged wife Brooke Mueller was granted a temporary restraining order against him. While Sheen has always been known for his partying lifestyle, recent events seem to have escalated his antics.

Last week, after allegations of threats and assault were made against Sheen, a judge granted a restraining order and as a result, Sheen's two young sons that he shares with Mueller were removed from his home. Though Sheen and Mueller attempted to reach a custody agreement, the two are headed to court after being unable to agree on a plan.

If you recall from an earlier post, Mueller and Sheen separated back in November of last year on account of irreconcilable differences. Once the divorce is finalized, it will be the third divorce for Sheen. The two separated after Sheen was accused of physically assaulting Mueller on a vacation.

Even more recently after his boys were taken from his custody, Sheen has gone on several public rants even targeting the producer of his show. As a result, many are questioning his mental and emotional stability.

Likely driven by the concern that Sheen is on a downward spiral, Mueller does not want Sheen to be alone with the two boys. If she could dictate the custody agreement, a monitor would be present at all times when Sheen is with the children. In addition, Sheen's two live-in girlfriends would not be allowed to act like parents to the kids.

Amidst the custody battle, Sheen has other things to worry about as well. The last few episodes of the popular sitcom he stars in have been canceled. He may also be the focus of a criminal investigation stemming from the threats he made to Mueller.

Source: My Fox: New York online, "No Agreement in Sheen Custody Battle," 07 March 2011

She says she will take her family law fight all the way to the Supreme Court. She argues that she is the only mother that "Baby Vanessa" has ever known, and she wants to keep it that way. An adoptive mother in California has spent the last two years raising her adopted daughter, whom she adopted from Ohio.

The fact that "Baby Vanessa" came from Ohio is a key element in what has become a big, complicated child custody dispute. The biological father of the child is fighting to regain the parental rights he claims were violated when the adoption of "Baby Vanessa" didn't follow Ohio's Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children Law.

He argues that he's been fighting for custody of "Baby Vanessa" since soon after her birth and that she was adopted out of the state illegally. The father has other children but doesn't have custody of any of them; two of his daughters have been raised in the custody of his mother.

The Ohio father isn't the only one fighting for "Baby Vanessa." Along with raising her son's other daughters, the father's mother also wants custody of this young girl. Perhaps the party who feels she has the most to lose in this family law dispute, however, is the adoptive mother.

Having raised "Baby Vanessa" over the past two plus years, the 46-year-old adoptive mother is in great fear that she will have to say goodbye to her adopted daughter after already living as a family. Of course, she asserts that she does not plan on ever giving up on "Baby Vanessa" and will take the case as far as she can in order to remain the child's mother, which she believes is in the best interest of "Baby Vanessa." According to reports, the child's biological mother is on the adoptive mother's side in the child custody dispute.

Advocates for adoption worry that this case will scare prospective parents away from the brave, giving choice to adopt. They feel that adoption laws in the U.S. need to be altered in order to treat children as the vulnerable human beings they are and not as mere property.

Source

Dayton Daily News: "'Baby Vanessa' custody battle may end in U.S. Supreme Court," Mary McCarty, 6 Mar. 2011

In some instances, married couples choose to separate from their spouse. In Ohio, there are a few ways to make this possible, one of which is dissolution. Dissolution is an option for some couples and can be an affordable and efficient way to reach a solution when a couple decides to legally separate.

But what leads a couple to the point of dissolving a marriage? There are likely a number of things that can change the way two people feel about one another. In addition the decision to separate, get a marriage dissolved or get divorced is not a simple one to make. But is there a certain point in time when couples begin to drift apart?

A recently studied looked at how many couples are finding that the three-year mark is when a relationship can begin to shift. Though the study was administered in the United Kingdom, many of the results could pertain to relationships here in the United States.

According to the study, there are several things that can weaken a romantic relationship including:

  • How the other deals with money and spending
  • Working hours
  • Certain personal hygiene and cleanliness issues
  • Lack of romance
  • Too much time with extended family and/or in-laws

The article also notes that the study suggests that couples in longer-tern relationships grow accustomed to life and the day-to-day activities, as opposed to working on the romance in the relationship. This often leads to couples trying to figure out how to re-spark the passion in the relationship.

Though the reason for dissolving a marriage varies from couple to couple, all are trying to find a solution that is as simple and least frustrating as possible. Any legal separation of a marriage, whether that is divorce or dissolution, is an emotional process for all involved.

Source: Reuters.com, "The 7-year itch is now the 3-year glitch," 09 March 2011

The idea behind alimony is that when a married couple chooses to separate, whether that is through a divorce or dissolution, there is an obligation to provide some sort of financial support to a spouse. Typically, a judge will decide what the alimony payments should be based on factors such as the need for money and the other spouse's ability to pay.

Often, alimony payments are not indefinite and end when the spouse receiving the payments gets married or finds a job. However in one state, a divorce case could change the way alimony payments are awarded. If the change happens, will other states follow in suit?

According to the article, a couple was divorced several years ago but has still been in a fight over alimony payments. In 2009, the husband was ordered to pay the ex-wife a certain amount in monthly alimony payments. According to the ruling, he had to pay her alimony until she got married or died.

Typically this type of alimony is awarded to a spouse who is 50 years old or above who gave up a career for family. Judges also tend to look at whether the spouse could find a different job that would allow her to keep her lifestyle before getting divorced.

But in this particular case, the husband and wife both worked jobs that provided enough financial security. In addition, the wife did not give up her career when she got married. The judge ruled that the alimony payments should cease. However when the case reached the state's Court of Appeals, the ruling was overturned because the husband earned more than the wife.

Now the case has reached the state's Supreme Court and the ruling could alter the way that alimony awards are given. Would that set precedence for other states? Should lifelong alimony payments be made even if the receiving spouse has a good job and a high income?

Source:  The Tennessean online, "TN Supreme Court considers change in alimony payments," Associated Press, 10 March 2011

In the middle of a particularly nasty divorce, issues can be brought up that will only fuel the fire. Spouses may bring up past mistakes and frustration, believing that it will help their own case. But in the midst of the accusations, children are often the ones who suffer the most.

Divorce proceedings are often accompanied by child custody hearings in order to determine which parent will have custody over the kids. These hearings can also become bitter disputes, especially if the parents are fighting for sole custody. Recently basketball star Dwyane Wade and his now ex-wife reached the end of their trial as both fight for sole custody of their two young boys.

The couple originally separated in 2007 and was legally divorced last summer. When the two split, the children went with their mother. Since then, the child custody battle only escalated as both Wade and his ex-wife constantly sued and counter sued one another.

During the custody trial itself, the allegations flowed freely from both sides. Wade's ex-wife was accused of having psychiatric problems, including anger and manipulation. She is also alleged to have alienated the two boys from their father and have used them to punish Wade for divorcing her.

In response, Wade's ex-wife alleges that he is only trying to get back at her by getting sole custody of their children. According to her, he has never really shown an interest in raising the boys until now and that if he were to have sole custody, would not have time to take care of them due to his schedule.

Stepping back from the situation, it seems that Wade and his ex-wife are using the custody battle as a way to get back at each other. But the judge during the closing statements remarked that the children suffer the most as a result of being caught in the middle of their parents' dispute.

Source: Chicago Sun-Times online, "Only truth in Wade custody case: Boys the real victims," Maudlyne Ihejirika, 22 January 2011

There are a number of factors that can cause a couple to choose to end a marriage. It can be anything from infidelity to simply growing apart as two individuals. In fact, sometimes the reasons a couple chooses to part ways can be surprising.

Recently an article in The Wall Street looked closely at the relationships of couples where one or both are serious endurance athletes. These types of athletes train several hours each day and travel frequently to compete in events across the nation. This type of exercise regime may cause conflict in a marriage and could eventually result in a dissolution or divorce.

The article gives several examples of couples who deal with the strain of exercise in their marriage. The wife of an endurance athlete describes days when she will wake up to an empty bed, knowing that her husband is off on his morning run. Her husband will sometimes miss holidays because he is participating in a triathlon elsewhere.

Initially, it seems that something like exercise would not be an issue to drive a couple away from one another. But couples therapists have noted that not only does the time commitment become a source of tension, but also the notion that as one partner becomes increasingly fit, more alternatives may appear. What does that mean? It means that if one spouse begins spending more time with athletes and people who may be more physically fit than their current partner, they may become attracted to others.

This obviously is not the case for everyone. And even research does not give a clear correlation between extreme exercise and divorce rates. But couples that are unable to spend enough time together can come to resent the other, which can lead to a strain in a marriage.

Is extreme exercise something that couples should be wary of? Not necessarily. The extreme athlete in the example given above does work to make sure his wife knows he values time with her and their children. He sets a specific time each week for family night and for date night and includes his family in trips as often as possible.

Source: The Wall Street Journal online, "A Workout Ate My Marriage," Kevin Helliker, 01 February 2011

The effect of an economic recession is felt by many. Some people experience it when they lose their jobs while others lose their homes. Regardless of how the recession impacts people, many Americans are being affected one way or another.

When a couple gets divorced, there are a lot of things that need to be worked out. One thing that the couple has to agree on is a custody arrangement if they have children. In some cases, one parent is awarded primary custody and the other parent agrees to pay child support in order to help with the everyday costs of raising a child.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in 2009 child support payments decreased nationally for the first time in over 30 years. Though an official report for this past year has not been released, this decline is believed to be true of 2010 as well.

So why are payments decreasing? Simply put, the economic recession seems to have played a big role in parents' inability to pay child support. Specifically, the unemployment rate has increased in the past few years. A noncustodial parent who lost their job is unable to make steady support payments.

In addition, noncustodial parents who are unemployed are able to get their payment amounts reduced. The current average monthly payment is approximately $250. Reduced payments mean that custodial parents are getting a smaller check each month to pay for their child's daily needs.

States have a few options when trying to collect child support payments. The state has the ability to garnish wages from noncustodial parents who owe child support; the state can also take money out of unemployment checks. But even so, collecting payments remains a challenge. Ultimately, both parents and the child are affected.

Source: Daily Finance online, "Another Victim of the Great Recession: Child Support Payments," Danny King, 01 January 2011

While many people may associate child support and visitation rights with divorce, there are other circumstances in which these issues may arise. Sometimes parents who were in a relationship at the time their child was born are no longer together. What happens if one of the parents seeks visitation rights or custody?

Some visitation issues that can come up include modification or establishment of rights. But what some parents are discovering is that seeking to establish and take care of some of these issues can take a long time. A neighbor state of Ohio recently tried a new process in order to help families establish parenting agreements.

The program was launched in Michigan and is called the Friend of the Court program. Families, who were seeking to establish visitation and custody plans as well as establish paternity, could come in and meet with caseworkers. What normally would take several months was expedited as many families walked out with a plan in place and a court date to finalize everything.

One woman who has a child with her boyfriend had been unable to get government assistance without child support terms. The Friend of the Court program allowed her to get everything taken care of at one time.

While Michigan may currently be the only state adopting this process, it may be something for other states to consider as well. The program is designed to help decrease conflicts between parents who are either going through a divorce or custody dispute.

For many parents, the situation itself is stressful enough; having to wait an additional six to eight months to get everything finalized can just make things worse.

Source: MLive online, "Parents speed up custody, child support process through Friend of the Court," Khalil AlHajal, 03 January 2011

There are many things that can lead a couple to decide to separate. Sometimes a couple separates because one of them was unfaithful. In other instances, a couple may choose to divorce simply because they grew apart.

Recently, the results of an online survey by Harris Interactive were released showing that more couples are not being completely honest with one another in regards to finances. This type of financial infidelity can lead sometimes even lead to dissolution of a marriage.

Surprisingly, a high number of people reported being untruthful with their partners about their finances. The research also showed how financial dishonesty can affect a couple's relationship:

  • Divorce - 16 percent of couples affected by finances chose this route
  • Separation - 11 percent of couples split partly due to financial problems
  • Fights - 67 percent of couples reported arguments
  • Distrust - 42 percent of couples experienced a decrease of trust in the relationship

According to the research, over half of the people surveyed admitted to hiding cash or hiding evidence of purchases. People surveyed also admitted to hiding bills, lying about debt or wages, and even having secret bank accounts.

This type of "infidelity" is becoming more common. As evidenced above, it can affect relationships. Many of the people surveyed reported that in some cases they were aware that they were being lied to about their partner's financial situation.

When finances lead to separation, couples have a lot to consider. Dissolution of a marriage involves not only the couple, but also children if there are any. The couple also has to decide how property will be divided and how child support and custody will be handled.

Source: Reuters online, "Three in 10 Americans commit financial infidelity," Daniel Trotta, 13 January 2011

For many couples, one of the main causes of divorce is finances. Even after the couple chooses to separate, money is still a hot topic as the two will need to determine spousal support, child support, and how to divide up the property.

One major post divorce issue that comes up is the issue of child support. This issue affects both the parents and the children long after the divorce has been finalized. Typically a couple will agree to child support terms during the divorce process. The terms can be changed in the future, especially if one parent's life circumstances change.

A lot of things can come up later in life that affect the terms of a child support agreement. When that occurs, it can be tempting for the parents to argue with one another about how the agreement should or should not be altered. But what the parents should keep in mind is what is in the best interests of the child.

For example, dependent on the support and custody agreement, one parent may have control over decisions regarding education for the child. If that parent chooses to move the child from a public school to a private institution, the cost for that child just increased. The previous support agreement may no longer be adequate.

Often the struggle comes from both sides. The parent who is paying child support may find themselves in a change of circumstances as well. What if they lose their job? Or what if they remarry and find themselves with children from the second marriage? The parent paying child support may no longer be able to financially meet the child support obligations.

There are options for the couple, including child support modification. Ultimately it's important for both parents to remember that getting into arguments and making threats will not help anyone, nor will it get anything done.

Source: Huffington Post online, "Post-Divorce Advice: Child Support," Lee Block, 11 January 2011

There are many ways to deal with marital issues. In many cases, a couple will choose to get a divorce or separate. In Ohio, couples also have the option to move forward with dissolution of marriage. Once a couple decides to separate, they have to set terms for things like child support, child custody, and distribution of assets.

Distribution of assets can be frustrating as couples try to determine what property was acquired before the marriage and what was acquired during the marriage. State property division laws differ in terms of whether property acquired during the marriage is marital or separate. One woman is discovering just how frustrating property division can be.

Just last week, the woman won about $90 million from the Idaho Mega Millions lottery. Unfortunately, that good news was dampened after she discovered that she may have to split her winnings with her husband, who she separated from several years ago.

The two were married back in 2001. Their time together was marred with criminal convictions that included battery and drug charges. They separated a few years later but were not legally divorced. Though the article does not specify their current relationship, it seems that they are not in contact with one another.

According to Idaho property law, property acquired during a marriage is community property. That means that any property acquired by marriage is typically split equally between the two spouses when they part ways. Unfortunately for this woman, that also means her estranged husband could take $45 million dollars from her.

The whereabouts of the woman are currently unknown; she has also taken her two children with her.

Source: USA Today online, "Lottery winner may have to split it with estranged husband," Douglas Stanglin, 18 January 2011

A set of triplets, each 4 ½ years old, is in the middle of a visitation dispute. Their mother, who lives on the East Coast, wants visitation rights; the triplets' father who lives on the West Coast does not think that the children should not be able to see their mother.

Visitation issues can become very emotionally heated and overwhelming for all parties involved, including the kids. It can be difficult for any parent to lose the right to see their children and even more difficult for children to not see both parents.

This particular custody battle is a little different because the mother is confined to a wheelchair after suffering serious brain damage during the birth of her triplets. She has only seen her children twice; once was the day that they were born.

The mother's parents, named her conservators, are trying to get visitation rights for her. The mother's attorney argues that there is no reason to deny visitation rights unless it can be shown that seeing their mother would actually harm the three children. The attorney believes that the mother has a right to see her children in the same way that disabled parents or parents in prison can see their kids.

The father's attorney believes that the right to visitation is only for parents who are fit to do so. She claims that the mother is not fit because she cannot communicate with her words and may not even realize that her children are in front of her.

The dispute has been going on for almost a year and should hopefully come to an end in the near future. The children and the mother have all undergone psychological evaluations, the results of which are not fully available to the public. But the recent and only visit, since the hospital, where the mother and children were able to interact did not indicate any harm to the children.

Source: The LA Times online, "Disabled mother battling for visitation rights gets precious time with her kids," Maria L. La Granga, 24 January 2011

It is surprising what some people will do in order to avoid paying child support. Typically when a couple gets divorced, if they have children, they have to agree on custody and support terms. Parents will either have joint custody or one parent will become the custodial parent. Then the other parent will pay child support in order to help the custodial parent provide for the child.

In some cases, a parent can request that child support payments be modified to adjust for life changes, such as getting fired from a job or remarrying. But what if the parent just does not make the child support payments? For one man, his attempt to avoid payments brought him all the way to the country of Jordan.

The man divorced from his wife in 1991. His child support payments began at that point and amounted to a couple thousand dollars each month. A few years later, his unpaid child support balance was over $150,000; he still neglected to make any payments. At that point, he disappeared.

Since then, law enforcement has been getting reports on his whereabouts, but had not been able to apprehend him. Because a warrant was out for his arrest, an agent saw him in Jordan. He was stopped when he tried to cross the border and extradited back into the United States.

The man currently owes over $400,000 in back payments for child support. That is more than anyone else in the state where the money is owed. Now, he not only owes the child support from the past 10 years, he could also be convicted of felony nonsupport. That charge carries a sentence of prison time and a hefty fine.

Source: Amarillo Globe-News online, "FBI finds fugitive dad in Jordan," Joe Gamm, 25 January 2011

In our last blog post, we discussed a proposed bill that would bring significant changes to Ohio's child support guidelines. Today, we will continue to discuss the legislation and the effects it will have on child support obligations.

The proposed bill has received its share of criticism already, as we discussed in our previous post. However, the bill has found support from many others. Its proponents argue that the cost of raising a child, which includes health care and education, has skyrocketed since 1992, the last time Ohio's child support guidelines were changed. As the costs of raising a child have increased at a greater rate than inflation, they argue the guidelines must be amended.

While the bill's proponents understand parents' concern about the increase in child support, they point out that the focus should be on the needs of the children. Also, they stress the fact that the proposed bill contains provisions that would assist parents who are living below the poverty line. The provisions seek to ensure that poverty-stricken parents will be able to support themselves before they are required to pay child support.

One of the major components of the bill is its focus on shared custody arrangements. Parents who have custody of their children 40 to 60 percent of the time will be required to pay significantly less child support. The rationale behind this is that parents incur additional expenses when they are in custody of the child.

This will be a welcome change, according to Tracy Armentrout, program administrator for the Ottawa County Child Support Enforcement Agency. Armentrout said guidance from the Legislature on shared custody arrangements would be helpful as they are becoming increasingly common.

Source: ZanesvilleTimesRecorder.com "Bill seeks to revamp Ohio child support guidelines," Jessica Alamo, 29 November 2010

It comes as no surprise that the institution of marriage has changed over recent years. While many people's marriages end in divorce, some individuals are choosing not to marry at all. A study conducted by the National Marriage Project reveals that 44 percent of those with high school educations are having children outside of marriage.

Researchers say these are not "teenage mother" situations. Rather, half of these couples are living together in committed relationships. The rate of unmarried people having children has tripled since the 1970s.

So, why is marriage falling out of favor? Brad Wilcox, the head of the National Marriage Project, says that one factor for high school educated parents is stagnate salaries for workers who do not have college degrees. In the past, young men could obtain well-paying factory jobs after high school and make a good living. Wilcox says this is no longer the case, making these men less desirable as husbands.

Wilcox's research has revealed that divorce has increased among the working class while decreasing for those who hold college degrees. He also points out that the recession has put further stress on those holding lower-wage jobs.

While Wilcox admits that having children outside of marriage has become socially acceptable, he argues that marriage is still valuable. He points to the fact that unmarried parents have a two times greater likelihood of breaking up by the time their child is five.

How exactly is marriage changing? The national Marriage Project found that divorce rates have dropped for the college educated but rose for those with only a high school diploma. Meanwhile, college-educated couples are more likely to report they are happy in their marriages. Finally, the rate for nonmarital births among the college educated is six percent, compared to 44 percent for those with a high school education.

Source: NPR "Unmarried With Kids: A Shift In The Working Class," Jennifer Ludden, 6 December 2010

In our last two blog posts, we have looked at the issue of international child abduction, as more parents are choosing to kidnap their children and flee to another country. However, the parents left behind face serious obstacles in finding their children and regaining child custody, especially in countries who are not party to the Hague Convention. Today, we will take a final look at the issue and discuss how countries like India and Japan are responding to criticism.

As more left-behind parents become increasingly fed up with Japan's reluctance to provide any aid in international child abductions, the Japanese Embassy has taken notice. It has said that Japan is making efforts to deal with the child abduction issue and wants to make sure the welfare of the children involved is the main focus.

Japan has expressed interest in signing the Hague Convention several times in the past. However, the sticking point appears to be Japan's concern that becoming a party to the convention would be detrimental to Japanese women and their children who left the U.S. to flee an abusive partner. Signing the treaty could leave these women and their children vulnerable to further abuse.

According to the State Department, there have been no cases in which a kidnapped child brought to Japan has been returned by order of Japanese courts.

Stephanie Eye, chief of the State Department's Eastern Hemisphere abductions division, says Japanese culture is accepting of only one parent having custody of a child after a divorce. Therefore, it is common for fathers there to be unable to see their children because they lack legal visitation rights. According to Eye, part of her efforts includes presenting the benefits of having both parents involved in children's lives.

Meanwhile, India has not signified any intention to sign the Hague Convention. The State Department does not seem optimistic on the prospects at this point. According to the department, a child who has been taken to India has little hope of being ordered back to the U.S. by Indian courts. International parental child abduction is not a crime in India, and U.S. custody orders are rarely recognized.

Despite these obvious setbacks, the State Department remains optimistic that, with time and pressure, these countries will come to realize the serious and devastating implications of this crime.

Source: The Washington Post "Japan, India pressed to curb child abductions," David Crary, 7 December 2010

In our last blog post, we discussed international parental child abduction, in which parents kidnap their children and flee the country, leaving the other parent behind without access to his or her children. These kidnappings tend to stem from child custody disagreements. Today, we will continue to look at the problem and what is being done to assist parents left behind.

Despite increased efforts by the State Department to handle international child abductions, many parents left behind feel its efforts are still inadequate. Rep. Chris Smith from New Jersey agrees. Smith plans to chair a subcommittee and push a bill that would require U.S. officials to do more in child abductions. Under his bill, there would be an Office on International Child Abductions within the State Department. When countries refuse to cooperate in these cases, they would be subject to sanctions.

Smith says it is necessary for the federal government to back this issue. While he admits his bill might not always guarantee the return of kidnapped children, he points out that no child abduction case will be ignored.

Prior to President Obama's recent trip to Asia, Smith urged him to pressure Japanese officials to join the Hague Convention. Smith was instrumental in passing a resolution in the House which urged Japan to sign the treaty and return kidnapped American children. However, even if Japan signed the treaty, the results would not be retroactive, leaving many parents still without hope.

In our last blog post on the subject, we will continue to discuss efforts to address international child abduction and how Japan and India have responded to pressure from the U.S.

Source: The Washington Post "Japan, India pressed to curb child abductions," David Crary, 7 December 2010

In our last blog post, we shared some tips for making this a happy holiday season for families of divorce. While the end of a marriage can be devastating for both spouses, children can feel especially upset and confused. During the holiday season, these feelings may intensify, as holiday traditions might change as a result of the divorce. Today, we will offer a few more tips for making this holiday season special for your family.

Having a plan for the holiday season is crucial. Keeping the plan simple is also a necessity. By working out a simple scheduling plan with your ex, your children will be able to enjoy their holidays without feeling like they are constantly being shuffled around. If at all possible, try not to split up days between both parents. Also, if you have more than one child, make sure your plan never calls for them to be apart. Further, make sure that your plan is fair to everyone involved. Your children's time should be split evenly between you and your ex.

Always be sure to follow through on promises you make to your children. Plan to pick them up and drop them off when you say you are going to, and try to keep their schedules as uninterrupted as possible.

When you are not with your children, still keep in contact with them. If distance prevents you from seeing the children over the holidays, arrange special times to speak with them on the phone. Refrain from telling them how much you wish they were with you, as this might result in feelings of guilt for them. Rather, tell them to enjoy themselves and say you look forward to seeing them soon. Also, if you have your children, be accommodating to phone calls from your ex.

Finally, avoid buying your way out of guilt. Although you might feel guilty about your divorce and the hardships your children may be facing, do not overcompensate by throwing lavish gifts at your children to "out-do" your spouse.

Source: WPTV "Keeping the 'joy' in the holiday season for families of divorce,"Connie Colla, 15 December 2010

The holidays are a wonderful, yet stressful time of year. Between the celebrations, shopping and traveling, the holidays can often require a delicate balancing act. For families that have experienced divorce, however, this time of year can prevent extra challenges. Today, we will look at some tips that will allow you, your children and your former spouse to enjoy the season with the least amount of stress possible.

These tips are based on excerpts from a series called "Simply Parenting," by Dr. Mary Ann LoFrumento. The author focuses on getting past your hang-ups surrounding the end of your marriage and focusing on the happiness and well-being of your children.

LoFrumento recommends always putting the interests of the children before your own. Around the holidays, ensuring your children feel happy and secure is of utmost importance. One of the most beneficial things you can give your children this holiday season is time. This includes not only time with you, but equal time with your former spouse as well. Any disagreements between you and your ex about holiday schedules should be worked out privately.

Also, as difficult as it may be, presenting a unified front with your ex whenever possible can be especially beneficial for your children. Refrain from engaging in negative talk about your ex in front of your children. Rather, find ways to show you still care about their other parent. For example, help your children make or pick out a gift for their other parent.

They key to a happy holiday season for children of divorce is to make events special and fun, even if they will not be spent the same as in the past. Take those extra steps to make the season as close to normal as possible. In our next blog post, we will look at a few more tips for creating a happy holiday season for your children.

Source: WPTV "Keeping the 'joy' in the holiday season for families of divorce,"Connie Colla, 15 December 2010

A Michigan man is facing felony computer misuse charges after he logged into his wife's email account and discovered she was cheating on him. The couple has since been granted a divorce, but the man is left to defend himself against accusations that he hacked into his wife's Gmail account.

The Rochester Hills man, 33, used a laptop he shared with his wife to log into her email account, in which he found emails that confirmed she was cheating on him with her second husband. The wife had been married twice before. The husband became concerned, as the second husband had been previously arrested for assaulting her in front of her son from her first marriage.

Amid growing concern regarding the child's welfare, the man decided to hand over the incriminating emails to the child's father, the woman's first husband. The first husband responded by immediately filing an emergency motion in order to obtain child custody.

After the wife found out the man had signed into her email account and shared her emails, she contacted authorities. The man was arrested in February of 2009 and will go to trial on February 7. He was charged under a law that is intended to prohibit individuals from stealing identities and trade secrets.

In an interview with the Free Press, the man defended his actions, saying he did what he had to do to protect the well-being of the woman's child. Meanwhile, Oakland Country Prosecutor Jessica Cooper called the man a "hacker," who skillfully obtained private information in a "contentious" manner.

Frederick Lane, an expert in electronic privacy, says 45 percent of divorce cases involve snooping, including the use of email, Facebook or other online sites, in order to gather information about the other spouse.

Source: CBS News "Man Charged in Reading Cheating Wife's Email," 27 December 2010

Many associate prenups with celebrities and socialites. When celebrity couples divorce, the focus becomes whether there was a prenup in place and how much the lower-earning spouse will take from the other. These situations often involve millions of dollars, lavish homes and fancy cars. However, the prenup is gaining popularity among everyday folks as well.

Prenups, otherwise known as prenuptial agreements or antenuptial agreements, detail how assets will be divided if a couple decides to divorce. These agreements are becoming commonplace for all types of couples, even those with modest means.

A survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reveals that 73 percent of attorneys surveyed reported an increase in prenuptial agreements in the past five years, while 52 percent of those attorneys said more women are requesting prenuptial agreements.

Why the increase? One reason could be that people are getting married later. Since 1980, the average age at marriage for women rose almost three years to 25.1, while the average age for men increased by two years to 26.8. These couples are coming into marriage with more assets because they have had more time to accumulate them.

Also, amid high divorce rates, many unions are second or third marriages. Many of these individuals have already experienced the difficulties of divorce and want to protect themselves and their assets in case their marriage should fall apart again.

Many attorneys stress the fact that prenuptial agreements are not just for the wealthy. In fact, some say that those with less means need more financial protection than the wealthy. Although signing a prenuptial agreement before marriage does not seem like the most romantic move, more couples are taking a practical approach and recognizing the benefits of such agreements.

Source: Chicago Tribune "More couples saying 'I do' to prenups," Jeff Strickler, 21 December 2010

The third time was not a charm for popular actor Charlie Sheen. Sheen filed for divorce from his third wife on Monday after a short-lived, drama-filled marriage.

Sheen married real estate investor Brooke Mueller in 2008. The couple has 19-month-old twin boys. TMZ.com reports that Sheen's filing cited irreconcilable differences as his reason for seeking the divorce. He was previously married to Donna Peele and actress Denise Richards.

The divorce is the latest in a string of highly-publicized events in the troubled actor's personal life. Just last week, police responded to a call from the Plaza Hotel in New York stating that Sheen had trashed his hotel room and was engaged in a drunk and incoherent tirade. Several media sources reported that a porn actress was with Sheen in the hotel room at the time of the incident. Sheen was taken to a hospital, and no charges were pressed. Sheen's publicist blamed the episode on an adverse reaction to some medication.

Sheen and Mueller have had a contentious relationship. Last December, Mueller accused Sheen of pulling a knife on her during an argument in Aspen, Colorado, on Christmas Day. Sheen was arrested after the alcohol-fueled altercation. He pleaded guilty to assaulting his wife and was ordered to drug and alcohol rehabilitation and three months of probation. Mueller has also sought treatment. The couple has been living apart following the Christmas incident.

One aspect of Sheen's life that has avoided trouble is his career. As the star of the most-watched television comedy in the United States, "Two and a Half Men," Sheen is thriving professionally. He reportedly earns $1.8 million per episode for his starring role on the popular show.

Source: ABC News "Actor Charlie Sheen Files for Divorce," 1 Nov. 2010

In our last blog post, we discussed that living together before marriage does not necessarily set couples up for a divorce down the road. Today we will examine the reasons that couples choose to live together and look at the role money plays in relationships.

Economical considerations are some of the main reasons couples choose to live together before marriage. Given the current economic climate, many individuals are without employment and are struggling to make ends meet. These types of situations encourage cohabiting before marriage. According to Wendy Manning, associate director of the Center for Family and Demographic Research at Bowling Green State University, many of these relationships will not result in marriage due to their "fragile" nature.

However, if economically stressed cohabiting couples do end up getting married, they are more likely to get divorced than more financially secure couples.

It appears that there are many couples who remain financially distressed despite the pooling of their resources. According to sociologist Pamela Smock, 24 percent of men who began cohabiting with their partner this year did not work last year. In 2009, only 14 percent of men who began cohabiting did not work in the previous year.

Also, in uncertain economic times, concerns about money often take precedence over love. Both divorce and marriage rates have fallen during this recession, similar to the trend that occurred during the Great Depression.  The recession is probably holding many couples in limbo, as they are too afraid to break up with their partner during this time.

Just as money affects whether a couple will move in together and whether they will stay married, it also can affect whether a couple actually gets married. For some, getting married requires money. Many couples are reluctant to get married when money is short or employment prospects are bleak. Further, some couples insist on having wedding celebrations that can carry a hefty price tag. Therefore, couples may choose to live together until they feel they are in a financial position to get married.

The conclusion can be made that there are many more pressing contributors to divorce than whether the couple lived together before they were married.

Source: Newsweek "Does 'Living in Sin' Still Lead to Divorce? " 10/6/10

Most couples enter into marriage filled with hope for the future and could not imagine the marriage ending in divorce. However, at least half of marriages do not go the way the spouses had hoped for on their wedding day. Those seeking to protect their finances in the event that their marriage does not survive often turn to prenuptial agreements.

A poll conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) revealed that divorce attorneys saw an increase in couples seeking prenuptial agreements in the last five years. Of the 1,600 attorneys polled, 73 percent reported a spike in marital contracts that specify how assets will be divided in the event of a divorce. Also, 36 percent saw an increase in requests to include retirement funds and pensions in prenuptial agreements.

The president of the AAML, Marlene Eskind Moses, said that retirement funds and pensions are often the main concern for individuals, as they are often their most substantial asset when they are entering into marriage. When there is a chance that the marriage will not survive, many do not want to risk losing those funds in the divorce.

Moses said that more couples are realizing that prenuptial agreements are not reserved for wealthy celebrities. She finds that people are beginning to understand the value they can have in protecting both spouses. Still, she admits that not all couples like the idea of a document that plans for the end of a marriage that has not even happened yet. Prenuptial agreements can be an emotional issue for those who see them as a divorce plan.

However, according to Moses, more women are seeking prenuptial agreements. Approximately 52 percent of divorce attorneys say they have seen a spike in women requesting prenuptial agreements. Moses credits this trend to increased employment opportunities and earning potential for women. As women have become more involved in finances, they are more interested in protecting their wealth if their marriage should end in divorce.

Resource: ABC News "More Women Say 'I Do' To Prenups," Lyneka Little, 27 September 2010

Actor-producer Mel Gibson has some real-life drama in his life. Gibson, 54, is engaged in a high-profile child custody battle with his ex-girlfriend, Russian singer Oksana Grigorieva, 40. The couple split after a two-year relationship. Gibson is fighting to receive joint custody of their ten-month-old daughter. Further, he is seeking a reduction in the $20,000 per month child support payment he has been ordered to pay.

The relationship between the two has been tumultuous. Grigorieva calls Gibson a "rich bully" who verbally and physically abused her. She has accused him of punching her in the face and threatening to kill her during arguments. Grigorieva recorded several of Gibson's tirades, in which he yelled and swore at her. The recordings were leaked to the public, which Gibson accuses her of doing in an attempt to extort him. Grigorieva denies having anything to do with the leaking of the tapes.

According to TMZ.com, Grigorieva has many advocates to help her plead her case. The website reports that she has hired 40 attorneys to represent her in her case against Gibson. While many of these attorneys have quit or been fired, some high-profile attorneys remain. One of her attorneys reportedly advised Elin Nordegren in her divorce from Tiger Woods. Eighteen of Grigorieva's attorneys have already submitted legal bills totaling more than $1 million. The attorneys are seeking payment from Gibson.

Grigorieva's newest attorney says reports that she has 40 attorneys are exaggerated. According to the attorney, she has a few firms representing her with other lawyers from the firms helping out when necessary.

Source: NYDailyNews.com "Oksana Grigorieva hired 39 lawyers to help fight legal battle against ex Mel Gibson: report," Rosemary Black, 18 October 2010

A billionaire agreed to pay millions in back child support for a girl who is not his biological daughter last week. He will also pay $100,000 a month in child support for the girl.

Ninety-three-year-old billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, a casino mogul who was once the majority shareholder in what is now MGM Resorts International, was led to believe that he fathered a daughter with his ex-wife Lisa Bonder Kerkorian, 45. Bonder Kerkorian, a former tennis pro, was married to Kerkorian in 1999 for only 28 days after the two had been romantically linked for years. Kerkorian is the girl's legal father because the couple married.

Bonder Kerkorian admitted during child support proceedings that she had faked a DNA paternity test using saliva from Kerkorian's adult daughter. She revealed that the girl's father is actually Hollywood producer Stephen Bing.

The settlement requires Kerkorian to pay for the girl's school, housing, food, clothing, entertainment, travel, beauty treatments, pets, parties and equestrian expenses. Kerkorian will pay child support until the girl turns 19 or graduates from high school and is no longer a fulltime student or until she no longer lives with her mother. After that time, Kerkorian's child support payments will be cut in half.

Kerkorian has joint custody of Bonder Kerkorian's twelve-year-old daughter, who lives with her mother. The child is aware that she has two fathers.

The former couple reached this child support settlement after a long and contentious court battle that began in 2002. Although Bonder Kerkorian was originally seeking alimony payments, the settlement does not include alimony.

Source: ABC News "Kerkorian to Pay $10.25 Million in Child Support," Linda Deutschap, 22 October 2010

When going through a divorce, it is easy to focus on the anger and sadness you are experiencing from this traumatic event. You may be especially concerned if there are children involved, as you only want what is best for them. However, sometimes couples going through a divorce will bring their own issues into discussions of child custody and co-parenting. Today, we will discuss why this can be harmful to children and offer suggestions for effective ways of co-parenting with your ex.

A recent article in the Chicago Tribune highlights the story of Catharine, a mother of two who divorced her husband after 17 years of marriage. While she admitted to being sad and angry over the breakdown of her marriage, she said her desire to be a positive influence for her children has enabled her to keep things civil with her ex.

Catharine said her main strategy is to remain rational and mature instead of letting her ego get in the way. This approach allows her to make sure that she does not take out her frustrations with her ex on her children.

According to clinical psychologist Dr. Christine Costello, Catharine's approach is not common among divorcing parents. Unfortunately, she reports that many parents do not place the interests of their children ahead of their own interests. Costello says many parents bring their own marital issues into discussions about child custody and co-parenting and forget about what is most important.

Costello suggests that parents going through a divorce are careful to never speak critically of their ex in front of the children. Oftentimes, children will view this as criticism of them because they love that parent. Also, she encourages parents to get on the same page as early as possible so they can work together on parenting the children. Finally, she stresses the need for open communication between not only the parents, but the children as well. The more your family is able to talk through any issues, the more likely your children will emerge unscathed from the divorce experience.

Source: Chicago Tribune "Successful co-parenting," Jenniffer Weigel, 26 October 2010

Same-sex couples who were legally married in other states cannot obtain a divorce in Texas, said a state appeals court this week.

The 5th Texas Court of Appeals held that Dallas district court judge Tena Callahan did not have the authority to hear a same-sex divorce case. Judge Callahan asserted she had jurisdiction to hear the divorce case of two men who married in Massachusetts in 2006, and further held that Texas could not limit marriage to a union between a man and a woman.

Attorney General Greg Abbott intervened, arguing that Texas courts lack the authority to grant same-sex divorces. The appeals court agreed, ruling that courts cannot grant gay couples divorces because the state does not recognize gay marriage. Justice Kerry P. Fitzgerald wrote, "Texas law, embodied in our constitution and statutes, requires that a valid marriage must be a union of one man and one woman, and only when a union comprises one man and one woman can there be a divorce under Texas law."

The appeals court further held that the state's ban on same-sex marriage is constitutional.

Also, the court noted that the men had the option of having their marriage declared void. When one of the men argued that spousal support and community property laws applied only in divorce cases, the court responded that the issue should be addressed by the Legislature.

The gay couple, known only as J.B. and H.B., amicably separated after two years of marriage. They have no children and have agreed to distribution of their property. They are deciding whether to appeal to the Texas Supreme Court.

Source: CBS News "Court Says Gay Couples Can't Divorce in Texas" 9/1/10

According to Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason, the five defendants owe a combined $119,836.82 in child support. The failure to pay child support is a fifth degree felony, carrying a maximum sentence of one year in prison.

The first defendant, of Euclid, owes $34,471.92 for the support of his 14-year-old child. He was indicted on three counts of non-criminal child support. Another defendant, of Bedford, owes $22,729.62 in support for his one-year-old child. He was indicted on three counts of criminal non-support. He was also indicted on an additional count for owing $8,607.00 for support of his 11-year-old child.

The third defendant, of Cleveland, owes $16,123.29 for his three children, ages 9, 12 and 14. He was indicted on 12 counts of criminal non-support and has made no voluntary payments in this case. Another defendant, of Parma, owes $16,123.29 for his three children, ages 9, 12 and 14. He was indicted on one count of criminal non-support and has made no voluntary payments in this case. 

The final defendant, of East Cleveland, owes $7,993.74 for the support of his six-year-old child. He was indicted on one count of criminal non-support. The last voluntary payment made was in 2008 for $50.00.

The arraignments for each of the defendants are scheduled for September 13.

Source: NewsNet5.com "5 defendants indicted for owing $119,836.82 in child support" 9/3/10  

This phenomenon was revealed in a research study conducted in 2003 by economists Gordon Dahl and Enrico Moretti. The study indicated that parents of a daughter are almost five percent more likely to divorce than the parents of a son. Parents who had three daughters were almost ten percent more likely to divorce than the parents of three sons.

This pattern continued in second marriages as well. Divorced women with daughters were much less likely to remarry than divorced women with sons. Further, when divorced women with daughters do remarry, their second marriages are less likely to survive than the second marriages of women with sons.

Finally, unmarried couples who are expecting a girl are less likely to get married than couples expecting a boy.

While the researchers essentially concluded that daughters are a liability when it comes to marriage, Dr. Anita Kelly disagrees with this interpretation.

Dr. Kelly, a professor at the University of Notre Dame, thinks the researchers may have overlooked some important facts when reaching their conclusions. She believes the findings support her theory that women with daughters are more likely to divorce because they believe their daughters will provide them with support and companionship.

For example, Dr. Kelly points out that 73% of divorces in the United States involve the woman leaving her husband. Further, adult daughters living at home decrease the workload of the parents, while adult sons living at home increase the workload of the parents. Finally, a major human motivation is the avoidance of loneliness and females provide more and better social support than males.

Essentially, a woman may be less likely to put up with problems in her marriage when she has a daughter that will provide her with support. This would also explain why unmarried couples expecting a daughter are less likely to marry, as a woman who knows she is having a daughter may feel less of a need for a husband.

Dr. Kelly hopes to empirically test her theory and is working on obtaining a grant for her research. 

Source: The Toronto Star "Daughters give women freedom to divorce, new theory says" 9/8/10

The Utah woman and her husband were married for 18 years when they divorced in 2006, and she was awarded alimony. The couple had two children.

The woman had no permanent residence, and lived at her parents' house for 80 percent of the time. The woman's parents were raising six foster boys in their home. The woman's children told their father that their mother was having a sexual relationship with one of the teenage foster boys. As a result, the father asked a judge to terminate his ex-wife's alimony.

The woman's son could not provide proof of his mother's sexual relationship with the teen. The daughter testified that her mother and the teen acted more like lovers than friends and that they were always together. The judge ruled that the burden was on the woman to prove she did not have a sexual relationship with the boy, as she was living with him. Because he determined she failed to meet that burden, her alimony was terminated.

The woman appealed to the Utah Court of Appeals. The court held that having a sexual relationship with someone living under the same roof is not enough to terminate alimony. While those factors should be considered in a determination of whether a relationship resembles marriage, the analysis must be more in depth. The court determined that the woman and the teen did not have a relationship resembling marriage, and reinstated the woman's alimony.

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune "Alimony restored to woman who allegedly had relationship with teen" 9/9/10

One of the researchers attributed the results to the fact that women with access to money are more able to live on their own. Also, men's egos might be bruised if their wives are making more money, causing marital stress.

Further, the researchers report that the breaking point for marriages occurred when the woman was making at least 60 percent of the family's income. Couples in this situation are 38 percent more likely to divorce in any given year, no matter how much the couple makes.

The study involved 2,500 women who were married between 1979 and 2002. One researcher, sociologist Jay Teachman, stated that many of the women were of a generation that expected the man to be the family's breadwinner. Because those expectations are not met, both sides experience stress.

Therefore, Teachman would like to conduct the study again in ten years using women from a newer generation, to see if their incomes would have any effect on the status of their marriages.

There could be other explanations for the findings as well. For example, higher paying jobs usually require more hours spent at work. Therefore, marital stress could result from the woman spending more time away from home. Likewise, women could become frustrated with their lower earning husbands for not pulling their weight in the marriage. 

Regardless of the exact cause, the researchers were quite surprised that a woman's earning power could have such an effect on her marriage.  

Source: New York Post "Women's divorce 'cur$e'" 9/10/10

Japan has not become a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. This treaty provides a means of returning abducted children to participating countries.

Swaim is left to negotiate with Japanese officials with little to no leverage.

Japan has come under heat from countries like the United States, Canada, France and the United Kingdom for its failure to sign on to the Hague Convention. In May of 2009, the countries held a press conference at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. In a joint statement, representatives from each country noted what an important ally Japan is, making its failure to develop strategies for returning victims of parental child abduction in Japan especially troubling.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any case in which Japanese courts have returned an American child brought to Japan by a parent, even when the parent left behind has custody of the child.

There are currently 90 abduction cases to Japan involving 127 children, according to state department officials.

The abduction of children to other countries by their parents is a growing problem. According to the state department, there were 1,135 new requests for assistance from American parents attempting to secure the return of 1,621 children from other countries. There were 642 such requests in fiscal year 2006.  

It is much easier to return these children to the United States from Hague countries. For example, in 2009, 436 children abducted to other countries were returned. Of those children, 324, or 74%, were returned from Hague countries.  

Sometimes United States officials have successfully negotiated with non-Hague countries, at least to honor arrest warrants. However, the United States has had no such luck with Japan.

Still, there is a glimmer of hope. State department officials report that the Japanese government seems more receptive to the issue lately. In fact, a child custody office was recently opened in Tokyo.

In the meantime, frustrated parents like Swaim will have to keep trying or wait for Japan to sign on to the Hague Convention or agree to some other compromise. 

Source: Dayton Daily News "Little recourse for dad of kids taken to Japan" 8/14/10 

Christie Bren, 22, and David Bren, 18, are suing their billionaire father, Donald Bren, seeking $400,000 a month in child support dating back to their births. Bren supported the children over the years pursuant to an out-of-court agreement he made with the children's mother. However, the children claim the payments were well below what a family court would have awarded them, especially given their father's immense wealth.

Donald Bren and the children's mother, Jennifer McKay Gold, disagree as to the nature of their relationship and Bren's intentions regarding the children. Bren claims that the two shared a loveless, infrequent relationship. He stated he was shocked by her pregnancies as she had assured him that she was using contraception. Gold, however, claims the two were in love and Bren was aware that she was not taking any precautions to prevent pregnancy.

While Gold contends that the couple was in frequent contact and enjoyed vacations and socializing with other couples together, Bren claims he only saw her infrequently.

Gold acknowledged at trial that Bren had paid approximately $3 million in support over a 14-year period. However, she stated that, given Bren's wealth, the children were entitled to much more.

Bren's wealth is a major issue at trial. Gold recalled Bren telling her he spends between $3 million and $5 million a month on personal expenses. She detailed Bren's lavish lifestyle, which includes multiple homes, boats, servants and a fleet of jets. However, Bren attempted to downplay his assets, testifying that many were owned by his businesses and not him personally.

Bren was ranked 16th on Forbes Magazine's list of the 400 richest Americans and has an estimated net worth of $12 billion.

Source: Los Angeles Times "Donald Bren's intensely private life becomes public as child-support trial begins" 8/20/10

Carmen Lynn Johnsen of Federal Way told the man she was dating she was pregnant with his child in December of 2008. The man began paying Johnsen $700 a month in child support. He paid a total of $3,500 in child support over the course of many months. Johnsen cashed these checks even though she continued to receive negative results on pregnancy tests.

The man eventually questioned Johnsen about the validity of her pregnancy in July of 2009. Soon thereafter, Johnsen sought a protection order from the Superior Court of Washington/Pierce County. Under oath, Johnsen stated that she had been hospitalized due to pregnancy complications. She later testified that she lost the baby in July of 2009. Johnsen pressured the man to pay her medical bills.

Upon investigation, it was determined that Johnsen's treatments were paid for by the Department of Social and Health Services. Also, Medicaid covered her medical expenses. Investigators also discovered letters with a doctor's forged signature concerning Johnsen's medical history.

Further, in December 2009, Johnsen printed an obituary in a local newsletter for her "child" Rebekah Lynn Johnsen, which stated that the baby had died of placental abruption before birth. In January, the newsletter contained information about a memorial service for the baby at St. Vincent de Paul Parish. A pastor at the parish confirmed that Johnsen came to him to plan a funeral service, telling him that she had lost her baby in a car accident and had the body cremated.

In May of 2010, Johnsen admitted to police that she knew she was not pregnant at the time she was receiving payments for child support. She is now charged with forgery, first-degree perjury and first-degree theft.

Source: Seattlepi.com "Federal Way woman accused of faking pregnancy for child support payments" 8/24/10

The Meigs County Child Support Enforcement Agency reports that the agency collected $3.2 million in child support in 2009. However, about $5 million of outstanding child support payments still needs to be collected. Agency staff members believe that they will meet their collection goals for 2010 as well.

According to the Meigs County CSEA, collection of child support is a collaborative effort. The agency works with local law enforcement, the Meigs County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, and the juvenile and domestic divisions of the Meigs County Common Pleas Court.

The CSEA only refers the worst cases of non-payment for criminal prosecution. Legal action is used as a last resort after all other strategies have been exhausted. Every month the Meigs County Prosecuting Attorney brings child support cases before Meigs County Grand Jury. As a result of these efforts, many successful outcomes and child support collections are made. In the past 20 months, the Prosecuting Attorney has worked on 150 child support cases.

The CSEA staff awarded the Prosecuting Attorney and Assistant Prosecuting Attorney with plaques this week to honor their work in child support collection.

According to the ODIFS Office of Child Support, the state of Ohio collects about $1.9 billion in child support each year, making it third in the nation for child support collection.

Source: The Daily Sentinel "Record cases, collections of child support" 8/26/10

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