Forgotten Divorce Laws in Ohio

Plenty of people get divorced, change their child support, and fight over custody. Other people aren’t quite so lucky & encounter situations where they must pursue legal actions that are uncommon.  Here are what I call the misfits of domestic relations law.

SUGGESTION OF DEATHshutterstock_126219344

When the unthinkable happens & a parent dies, nothing changes until the other parent files a “Suggestion of Death.”  This is the ancient olde English phrase for notice.  This motion is typically followed by a request for change of custody.  The Domestic Relations court will usually sign off on such an order transferring custody to the other parent as necessary.  If the non-custodial parent should die, then a Suggestion of Death should be filed with the court and the child support agency.

Sometime a party dies after an agreement has been reached in a case. Depending upon the last thing that happened in the case, the agreement may or may not be enforceable. If a party dies after the agreement is read into the record in court, or after having signed an otherwise Separation Agreement, the agreement may be able to be presented & ordered into effect by the court. It is always good practice to notarize documents as insurance against this possibility.

LEGAL SEPARATION

Moving out does not change your legal status–moving out only means that you are living apart from your spouse.  You are NOT “legally separated.”  A legal separation is a formal legal action that mimics a divorce, except that you are still married at the end of the case.  Most people go for a legal separation in order to preserve health benefits or to reach an important date in the marriage.  Ten years is the marker for social security benefits & twenty years is important to military spouses.  Few people need a legal separation.

Living separate & apart, without cohabitation, for one year immediately prior to filing for divorce or legal separation is one of several different grounds. Again, having grounds for divorce or legal separation does not change a person’s marital status.

VEXATIOUS LITIGATION

My favorite law is the Ohio vexatious litigation statue.  Some people file case after case just to harass the other side & run up legal expenses.  File enough frivolous matters & you can be declared a “vexatious litigator” & required to obtain court approval of anything else you may want to file, before you are allowed to go forward.  “Vexatious litigator” is a life-long designation.  Domestic Relations court is an outlet for many people to abuse the system, yet this remedy is seldom pursued.  This is a shame.  Most people cool down after being publicly labeled a vexatious litigator.

There are unusual legal remedies in Ohio for divorce clients.  It is important to have an attorney who is creative & unafraid to brainstorm with seldom used laws.  It is equally important to have an attorney who does not pursue everything that moves, regardless of whether it benefits you.  it’s a matter of trust, that heart & soul of the attorney-client relationship.