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Portage County Ohio Law Blog

Financial issues divorcing couples may want to consider

The longer a marriage, the more likely the couple has accumulated a significant amount of joint assets. In such situations, divorce may bring a whole new set of financial troubles. That's why some Ohio spouses may benefit from taking a moment to consider how untying the knot will affect them financially.

Keeping the house is a common request during divorce negotiations. However, doing so could result in a budget squeeze if a spouse is trying to fully maintain a house on half as much income. Efforts to keep up with house-related expenses may also lead to taking out loans or risking losing a home to bankruptcy. Selling a jointly owned home can be financially risky as well if a couple is forced to accept a low offer because of an urgency to move on. If a couple decides to wait until they get a better deal, holding onto the home may mean juggling expenses for two houses.

Stiff penalties linked to drug possession in Ohio

The state takes a strong stance against the possession and use of controlled substances. Convictions for drug crimes typically result in fines and incarceration. The law determines the severity of misdemeanor or felony charges based on the classification of controlled substances and the amount.

State statutes rate drugs by the dangers associated with them. The classification system separates drugs into five schedules with Schedule I drugs representing what the state has deemed to be the most hazardous. A bulk amount system also influences the strength of criminal charges with drug amounts beneath a certain threshold producing lighter penalties than amounts above the threshold.

Are you facing multiple family law issues at the same time?

Life is often complicated. Rarely are we presented with a single problem possessing a single solution. For example, many marriages that end in divorce are also complicated by child custody and occasionally, addiction. Any of those issues would be overwhelming on their own, but when they all require your immediate attention, it is easy to feel overwhelmed.

If you are considering divorce, have children and are managing your partners addiction all at the same time, here are some tips.

Can you get an OVI on a golf cart?

When most people think of OVI, they think of driving a regular car while intoxicated. However, in Ohio, you can get an OVI for operating all kinds of motorized vehicles while under the influence of alcohol. That includes golf carts. 

Whether you use a golf cart to get around an actual golf course or to cruise around your neighborhood, you should never get behind the wheel while drunk. The police can arrest you, but you may be able to build a solid legal defense to get your charges thrown out.

A mother from Ohio battles against PAS allegations

Since the 1980s, a debate has spun around the topic of Parental Alienation Syndrome, or PAS, which is used to describe what occurs when one parent pits the children against the other parent. The controversy continues today because PAS seems to lack a criterion that determines a syndrome diagnosis. Further studies are being conducted, but at this time, PAS is typically an argument used in cases where allegations of abuse are also present. The American Psychological Association has not yet taken a stance on the subject of PAS.

A mother who moved to Ohio with her children following an easy California divorce is now embroiled in a child custody battle in which PAS is alleged against her. The woman's ex-husband had originally agreed to give her sole custody of their two small children during divorce proceedings that never went to court. She accused him of domestic violence but had never filed charges against her ex. After the woman and her children moved away, he hired an attorney and built a case around a notion that the mother had alienated the daughter from her father.

Woman sues after months in jail for false positive drug test

Law enforcement in Ohio often turn to field tests to identify substances suspected of being illegal drugs. A new lawsuit filed by a woman who sat in jail for three months calls into question the reliability of drug field tests. Her lawsuit has named a county board of commissioners, two deputies and Sirchie Acquisitions as the parties responsible for her unnecessary incarceration. Sirchie Acquisitions produced the drug test that supplied a false positive, which got her arrested on charges of methamphetamine trafficking when she only had a bag of cotton candy.

According to her court filings, her ordeal began on New Year's Eve 2016 when police pulled over the vehicle that she was riding in. Darkly tinted windows were the reason cited by police for the traffic stop. When the deputies determined that she and the driver both had suspended licenses, they searched the car and found a bag with a blue crystalline substance. Their field drug test mistakenly reported that the cotton candy was methamphetamine.

Parents seek new ways to share custody

Parents in Ohio planning to divorce may be looking for ways to minimize the effects on their children. An increasing number of families - and family courts - look at joint or shared custody as a preferred solution. With joint custody, parents have approximately equal time with and responsibilities for their children. In most cases, the children move back and forth between the parents' homes on a weekly or other regular basis. Even joint custody can come with major changes, of course. Children often leave the previous family home and their parents are no longer together.

Some families are looking at "birdnesting" as an innovative form of child custody to ease the sometimes difficult transition after a divorce. With birdnesting, children stay in the family home while the parents move in and out on a weekly basis for their custody time. In general, the parents usually share one apartment, rotating time between that space and the family home with the children. Because this arrangement requires a high level of communication and shared space, it is best suited for couples who are ending their marriages amicably. Still, it can help to ease the children's emotional trauma and provide a sense of stability.

Ohio voters could change drug sentencing standards

Ohio voters will have the opportunity to amend the state's constitution to change the way certain drug offenses are classified. If voters approve of the state's only ballet issue, low-level, non-violent possession charges would be considered a misdemeanor offense instead of a felony. The adjustment would mean individuals charged with crimes of this nature could no longer be sentenced to serve jail time in a state prison. Supporters and opponents have weighed in on the issue.

Those who support the change in how minor drug charges are classified say it would allow funds to be redirected from what's needed to cover incarceration costs to money that could be used for treatment options for offenders. Opponents argue that taking discretion with potential penalties away from judges may undermine the ability to keep offenders in treatment programs. Existing Ohio law makes drug-related offenses a fourth or fifth-degree felony. Judges currently have the option to sentence individuals up to 18-months in state prison.

Tax changes and divorce among seniors

Divorce among seniors (also known as "gray divorce") has become common in Ohio and in other states. Tax law changes that were enacted in 2017 which will go into effect at the end of 2019 could change the way gray divorces are litigated. Older adults who are considering divorce will want to consider how these changes could affect them.

When dividing assets in a divorce, taking into account their respective value is important. The recent tax law changes gave businesses tax breaks which could make small businesses more valuable. However, the value of a small business can be difficult to calculate since the income can vary from year to year.

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