Domestic Relations & Family Law

Our clients come to us facing extreme uncertainty. Their world is changing rapidly. Emotions are high. They are looking for answers to the most basic, fundamental questions: Where will I live? How often will I see my kids? Will I be able to support my family and myself? Will my kids be ok? Will I be ok? KJK’s Domestic Relations & Family Law attorneys are committed to navigating you and your family through that uncertainty. We are creative problem-solvers, aggressive advocates and accomplished attorneys representing individuals and families throughout Northeast Ohio. We regularly have family law cases in Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage, Erie and Summit Counties.

Our Domestic Relations & Family Law attorneys are experienced in the valuation and division of assets and debts, determinations of support, allocation of responsibilities for children and dealing with domestic violence, whether through negotiation of agreements or court proceedings and trial. Our team is proficient in collaborative law, divorce mediation and other alternatives to litigation to resolve family issues. Our clients benefit from our strong commitment to and extensive experience in these alternative dispute resolution processes.

Our comprehensive domestic relations practice includes working with clients spanning a wide spectrum of economic groups. Many of our clients and/or their spouses are owners or major shareholders of closely held businesses, so we understand the issues involved in settling the often complicated issues connected with business valuations and the tax aspects of divorce.

We also provide pre-marital planning by preparing prenuptial and domestic partnership agreements prior to marriage, to advising clients about the concerns encompassing such agreements.

Our services include working with nontraditional families, including same-sex partners, who are entering into or ending legal marriages or domestic partnerships and need financial, parenting and estate planning advice.

We hope you find this website to be a valuable resource, but we always welcome the opportunity to speak with you directly to see how we can help.

Focus Area

ALTERNATIVES TO LITIGATION

Collaborative and Cooperative Processes and Mediation

Some couples want an alternative to an adversarial court process (litigation) when ending their marriage. For those couples, alternatives do exist. A collaborative process is one in which the couple and their respective lawyers meet together to resolve issues using interest-based negotiation techniques, with the goal of, ultimately, ending the marriage through a dissolution, rather than a divorce.

In a similar process, called a cooperative process, couples actually select from various options how they want to negotiate (using four-way meetings, a mediator, a neutral evaluator, a parenting expert, etc.) and how they want to resolve any impasse they might encounter in their negotiations (using a private judge, evaluative mediator or arbitration, for example).

Other couples use mediation. In mediation, a single neutral lawyer helps the couple have constructive conversations to see if there is enough common ground to reach an agreement as to all the issues that need to be decided.

These non-court processes can be used to resolve financial issues including the allocation of assets and debts, spousal support and child support, and can be used to resolve issues relating to children as well. Couples often find that these processes offer them more control over their own futures and more creativity in the options they explore.

LITIGATION

There are some cases that cannot be resolved by agreement and must be presented to a court to decide the dispute. Litigation consists of the filing of a complaint against another party. During this process, decisions are made by a judge or magistrate in the form of a court order. This order is legally binding, and both parties must comply with the order as it is written.

The litigation process begins when one party files a complaint with the court. The opposing party then has 28 days to file an answer to the complaint. The next step in the process is referred to as discovery. Discovery is the gathering of any evidence that may support a party’s case. Discovery may consist of written answers to questions (interrogatories or requests for admissions), production of documents or even participating in depositions. Both parties are obligated to provide full disclosure of all information that is requested.

Following the discovery process and typically multiple trips to the courthouse for pretrials, the court will hold a trial before a judge or magistrate in which both parties have an opportunity to present evidence, argue their case and submit the matter for the judge or magistrate to decide.

DIVORCE

A divorce proceeding is an adversarial legal action between two individuals who are legally married. The purpose of a divorce is to terminate the marriage contract, issue a child custody order, divide marital property and award spousal and child support, if appropriate. Divorce proceedings typically take place in the county in which the initiating party (i.e. the plaintiff) lives and are heard by judges and/or magistrates in the Domestic Relations Divisions of the relevant county’s Court of Common Pleas.

There are no juries in divorce proceedings, and instead, the Judge will decide the case if the parties cannot reach an agreement. Divorce cases are the most common type of legal matter handled by KJK’s Domestic Relations & Family Law attorneys, and they are sensitive to how difficult and emotional these cases can be. Each case is unique and requires particular attention to the details.

DISSOLUTION

A dissolution proceeding has the same practical effect as a divorce: the legal termination of the marriage contract. However, it is a very different process. First, a dissolution is not an adversarial lawsuit like a divorce. Second, a dissolution can only be initiated after the parties have reached an agreement on all issues pertaining to the termination of their marriage, including child custody, support and division of property, if appropriate. Once an agreement is reached, often with the assistance of an attorney negotiating on each party’s behalf, a petition for dissolution is filed with the Domestic Relations Court, along with the executed agreements of the parties. Thereafter, a simple administrative hearing is held to approve the paperwork and finalize the matter.

CHILD CUSTODY

Child custody matters are often the most personal and challenging cases we handle for clients. Custody disputes can take place within a divorce or, for unmarried parents, as a separate legal action in Juvenile Court. Regardless of the venue, each child custody case is unique and often emotionally trying for the parents involved. Ohio courts make child custody determinations based upon a “best interest” of the child standard. These courts have broad discretion to determine an appropriate custodial arrangement for your children if an agreement cannot be reached. Our attorneys have vast experience and expertise in handling child custody disputes, including high-conflict child custody matters involving parental alienation and child abuse.

High-conflict cases involve issues such as parental alienation, where a child is manipulated by one parent into displaying unwarranted hostility and disrespect for the other parent. Parental alienation cases are often difficult to identify and even harder to resolve.

Other issues that frequently appear in high-conflict cases include child abuse, substance abuse and parents with mental health issues such as borderline or narcissistic personality disorders. The presence of these issues in a custody case makes resolution by agreement very difficult and often leads to prolonged custody battles. If you find yourself involved in a high-conflict child custody case, contact us today for assistance. We are ready and willing to take up your fight.

CHILD SUPPORT

A child support action may be part of a divorce or may be a distinct, stand-alone case filed in Juvenile Court. When parents separate, the State of Ohio generally requires one parent to pay child support to the other parent for the benefit of the minor children. Ohio child support guidelines are a starting point for calculating child support, but the determination of an appropriate amount of support can be somewhat complicated depending upon the circumstances of each case. Child support payments are not tax deductible and are required regardless of whether or not a parent is exercising visitation with the subject child.

As of March 28, 2019, child support laws in Ohio changed dramatically. The new child support statute requires the court to consider higher incomes as part of the child support guidelines, as well as the specific amount of parenting time each parent enjoys with the children. If you are facing a child support situation, please contact us to discuss your case.

SPOUSAL SUPPORT

Spousal support, also commonly known as “alimony,” is the payment of monetary support from one spouse to another. Spousal support can be awarded both during a divorce case (temporary spousal support) and after the case is finalized. The Domestic Relations Court has broad discretion in determining an appropriate and reasonable spousal support award in each divorce case. The primary factors the court considers when determining spousal support are the duration of the marriage, the discrepancy in income between the parties, the lifestyle the parties enjoyed during the marriage, the earning ability of each party, the assets and liabilities after the division of marital property and the health of the parties. The longer the marriage, the more likely it is that spousal support will be awarded.

Depending upon the circumstances of each case, spousal support awards can range anywhere from less than one hundred dollars per month to tens of thousands of dollars per month. As of January 1, 2019, spousal support is no longer tax-deductible for the payor spouse, and is no longer included as taxable income for the recipient spouse. If you believe you are entitled to a spousal support award or believe your spouse is seeking spousal support, please contact us to discuss your case.

DIVISION OF MARITAL PROPERTY AND SEPARATE PROPERTY

One of the primary goals of each divorce and dissolution proceeding is to divide the marital property equitably between the parties. Martial property generally consists of all property, both real and personal, accumulated during the marriage. This would include real estate, retirement savings, automobiles, bank accounts and closely held business entities. In the vast majority of divorce cases, an equitable division equates to an equal division, but not always. One challenge party’s often face is determining which property is marital and thus subject to division, and which property is separate, and not subject to division.

There are specific rules and laws which help define the nature of property held at the end of a marriage, but application of these laws can be confusing and difficult. If you are considering terminating your marriage and are concerned about an equitable division of your property, please contact KJK’s Domestic Relations & Family Law attorneys to discuss your matter.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE/CIVIL PROTECTION ORDERS

Unfortunately, domestic violence is an issue that KJK’s Domestic Relations & Family Law attorneys have been addressing more frequently in the past decade. Family violence – of any sort – is a scary and difficult subject matter that has become all too common in society. When domestic violence occurs, Ohio law provides several options to intervene, including civil protection orders, civil stalking orders and criminal protection orders. Our attorneys are trained and experienced to identify and address the cycle of violence that is pervasive in domestic situations and can help you find safety and peace if you or a loved one is a victim. Please contact us to discuss your options and take action to defend your family against domestic violence.

PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENTS

When people fall in love and promise to marry, they seldom believe that marriage will end in divorce. However, the statistics don’t lie. One-half of all marriages will end in divorce. It is prudent and reasonable, given these long-standing nationwide statistics, to plan ahead in case your marriage has a less than happily ever after. It is possible to avoid many of the difficulties involved in a divorce, and protect your financial future, by entering into a prenuptial agreement prior to marriage. A properly drafted prenup can help you avoid lengthy and expensive divorce litigation. KJK’s Domestic Relations & Family Law attorneys have a wealth of experience in drafting prenuptial agreements to protect you and your estate. Call us today to discuss your case.

POST-DECREE MATTERS

It is not uncommon that parties run into issues or problems that must be resolved after the divorce decree or dissolution is final. You may need to modify child support, change custody or parenting time terms or even seek to hold your ex-spouse in contempt of court for failing to follow through with the terms of the decree of divorce or dissolution.

KJK’s Domestic Relations & Family Law Group is highly skilled and experienced in handling post-decree matters. Our goal is always to find efficient and effective solutions to these problems. If you are in need of assistance with a family law matter that has occurred after your divorce or dissolution is completed, call us. We can help.

OUR APPROACH

CREATIVE

KJK’s Domestic Relations & Family Law Group believes that it is our highest priority to creatively and compassionately help with your families’ legal matters.

We know that no two families are the same, and that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to your case. Whether during litigation in a court or in an alternative to litigation such as a mediation, or in a collaborative or cooperative process, we continually strive to find the best possible answers to your family’s complex legal issues.

Whether it’s helping to negotiate a custody and parenting agreement, arriving at a child or spousal support settlement, dividing property and debt, handling a post-decree dispute or navigating any number of other legal issues you are facing, we will use our best efforts to understand you and your family’s unique interests and needs.

When you entrust your family law matter with our team, you can expect our lawyers and support professionals to be always striving to provide you and your family with new ideas on how to resolve issues and concerns that you have.

Call us with any questions you have. We are here to help.

AGGRESSIVE

We will be the first to admit that the most successful family law resolutions occur by the agreement of the parties outside of litigation. And while our highest priority is to creatively and compassionately help with your families’ legal matters, unfortunately, not every family law case can be settled outside of litigation and trial. Not every opposing client or attorney is thoughtful or committed to a peaceful resolution.

In that case, you need a strong, aggressive litigator in your corner. KJK’s Domestic Relations & Family Law attorneys have the skill and courtroom experience to navigate you through the chaos. We are seasoned trial lawyers who will fight for your rights and the rights of your family. We have successfully litigated and tried many divorce, child custody, support, domestic violence and other family law matter throughout Northeast Ohio.

With our Domestic Relations & Family Law team, you will have the resources to protect you and the things that are most important to you.

ACCOMPLISHED

Through our combined talents, our team forms one of the most formidable and successful family law practices in Ohio. With the backing and resources of a large firm and the nimble, personal approach of a boutique practice, this exceptional group of attorneys is uniquely positioned to achieve outstanding results in your family law dispute.

 

Meet Us

John Ramsey

Sarah Gabinet

Janet Stewart

Karen Truax

 

When working with KJK’s Domestic Relations & Family Law team, you will not only have access to John, Sarah, Janet and Karen; you will have the entire KJK team available to assist you. We are committed to a team approach. If your case involves business interests, real estate, trusts and other estate planning, intellectual property or various other legal issues, we have the team of skilled lawyers and professionals at the ready to help you and your family.