Monday, January 28, 2013

How to Establish Parental Rights for Unmarried Fathers in Ohio

Given that the percentage of children being born to unwed mothers continues to increase, an issue naturally arises in the context of family law and that is what happens when unmarried parents decide to split.

The law in Ohio says that when a child is born to an unmarried woman, she has sole custody of that child until the father has a court issue an order acknowledging his paternity and granting him rights. The law is clear that unmarried women who give birth are the default residential parent and legal custodian of the child until a family court judge issues an order designating another person the legal guardian of the child.

This should not be interpreted to mean that Ohio law says that unmarried mothers will always keep custody of the children. That’s absolutely not true. Once a father decides to go to court and have his paternity established, he is then able to request shared parenting. Except in exceptional circumstances, some kind of joint custody arrangement is usually established. In fact, in cases where the mother is either unfit or unable to provide a stable life for the child, the father might actually receive sole legal custody of the child.

There are several different ways paternity can be established in Ohio, even without a DNA test. The first way is through an affidavit acknowledging paternity. This is typically done at the hospital at the time of the child’s birth, but can also be done later at a county health department or local registrar’s office. The mother’s consent is required in this case and the father should know that he is giving up the option of having DNA definitively establish paternity, but this is a quick and easy way of establishing your rights as a father.

Another option familiar to most people is a DNA test. An order from the state can require parties participate in a DNA test to establish paternity. Many times this is initiated by a woman seeking child support, but it can also be launched by a father through a court action.

Once paternity is established this does not mean that visitation rights flow immediately to the newly recognized father. Legitimized fathers only receive visitation rights once there is a court order establishing them. If you’re facing a similar situation and want the ability to see your children, it’s important to speak to an experienced Ohio family law attorney who can help you navigate a custody challenge. If you find yourself facing the prospect of a custody dispute, contact an experienced Ohio family law attorney who can help guide you through the difficult process. Count on the expertise of Twinsburg family law attorney Carol L. Gasper.

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Monday, January 21, 2013

Notorious Deadbeat Dad Arrested by Feds

A man who has been called the “most wanted deadbeat parent in America” was arrested by federal authorities in California last month. The guy had to work hard to earn such a horrible distinction and the amount in arrears was truly massive. Authorities say that deadbeat dad owed his family more than $1 million in back support at the time of his arrest.

According to the federal government, the exemplary father went so far as fleeing the country to avoid paying what he owed. He picked up and moved to Thailand where he stayed for several years before moving across Asia and settling in the Philippines. It was in Manila that the man was located and eventually arrested. Filipino authorities deported him back to the United States where he was promptly taken into custody after arriving at LAX.

The 50-year-old man has not paid support for his three children in more than 10 years. The kids were from two different mothers and all were from New York. The man will be transported back to New York for prosecution given that the child support is owed there and not in California.

The lesson from the case of the worst deadbeat dad is obvious: when you are ordered by a judge to pay money, whether it’s spousal support or child support, follow the ruling to the letter. Even if you think the amount is unfair, pay it nonetheless. You can always turn to an experienced Ohio family law attorney to challenge the amount and attempt to modify support obligations later on.

It’s critical to understand that once a support agreement is finalized, the parties are legally bound to abide by the terms. Failure to do so not only will hurt your children who need the money to pay for important expenses, but can result in serious harm to yourself in terms of lost money, financial penalties and even loss of freedom. Rather than fleeing the country to avoid child support payments, it’s far better to turn to a skilled family law attorney to help guide you through the confusing process.

If you find yourself facing the prospect of divorce, contact an experienced Ohio family law attorney who can help guide you through the difficult process. Count on the expertise of Twinsburg family law attorney Carol L. Gasper.

Source: Feds say NY man owes $1 million in child support,” by The Associated Press, published at

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Monday, January 14, 2013

Some States’ Laws Consider Advanced Degrees Marital Assets

A recent Wall Street Journal article dealt a very odd quirk of divorce law in New York. The article focused on a woman, Tanya Finch, who completed a nursing degree while married to her husband, Kenneth Quarty, who was legally blind and did not work outside the home. Tanya worked multiple jobs to support the family while working on her degree and was obviously stunned when they eventually divorced and she found out that she owed her husband a lump sum prepayment of all her future earnings.

This is because New York is one of only a few states that have laws saying that one spouse can be entitled to an upfront percentage of all future money earned as a result of a degree obtained during a marriage. In New York a professional degree or license acquired during marriage is viewed as marital property. During a divorce, the value of the degree is figured by experts and then divided along with the rest of the couple’s property.

The law began after a 1985 court decision which interpreted the concept known as equitable division very broadly. Prior to 1980, during a divorce property went to the person whose name was on the item, the titleholder. That year, in an attempt to create more fairness in divorce, an equitable distribution law was passed which viewed all property acquired during a marriage to be joint assets that should be divided when a marriage ends. Later that same year, a doctor filed for divorce from his wife who had supported the family while he was in med school. The state’s Court of Appeals sided with the wife, saying that she was owed a share of the value of her husband’s medical license.

Courts in Michigan came to a similar conclusion in 1991, though the state has not used the principle nearly as extensively as it has been used in New York. In Louisiana, spouses are entitled to get back any investment they made in their partner’s advanced degree, a concept known as reimbursement alimony.

Over the years, the New York law has been expanded from just licenses to include degrees and even talents, including one rare case concerning the talents of a skilled opera singer. Accurately assessing the value of such things can be very hard to do and a major hurdle in any divorce. In the Finch case, the husband claimed the degree had a value of $841,383; Finch’s attorney said it was worth only $108,000 and the court finally settled on a number in between: $753,488, after subtracting her student loans. Her husband was ultimately awarded 25% of the total, or $155,372 to be paid over 396 months. After a series of appeals the amount was lowered dramatically and Finch was only ordered to pay a little over $15,000 spread out over two and a half years.

Though Ohio also follows the concept of equitable division, the courts in the state have thankfully never interpreted the idea so broadly as to include degrees as part of joint marital assets. To best understand how courts in the state interpret our laws, it’s critical to consult an experienced Ohio family law attorney who can help guide you through the difficult process. Count on the expertise of Twinsburg family law attorney Carol L. Gasper.

Source:After Divorce, a Degree Is Costly,” by Sophia Hollander, published at

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Monday, January 7, 2013

Bizarre Case Involves Sperm Donor Sued For Child Support

In a bizarre article recently published by Yahoo, one Kansas man has found himself in some surprising hot water over child support. According to the article, the man donated sperm to a lesbian couple and is now being asked to pay child support by the state.

The donor, William Marotta, gave the sperm to the couple after first signing a contract that clearly explained he would not be deemed the father of the child nor would he ever be responsible for paying child support. This past fall the state of Kansas filed a petition asking that the man be declared the legal father of the child and thus be held financially responsible for her care after the lesbian couple suffered some serious financial setbacks.

The sperm donor has said he will request that the court dismiss the claim. Prosecutors say a law on the books is clear that sperm must be donated through a licensed doctor for a father to be free of any future monetary obligation. In his case, the man donated the semen after finding the couple online, on the site Craigslist. The state is now telling the man to start making child support payments, including almost $6,000 in expenses dating as far back as the child’s birth.

Marotta’s attorneys have said that the man has no parental rights because of the contract he signed with the girl’s mothers. They claim that the clear language of the agreement means that the man cannot be held financially responsible for the child. Marotta says he responded to the Craigslist ad seeking sperm donations for $50. He turned down the money, saying he and his wife, who have no children of their own, simply wanted to help a couple that wanted a child.

The case has garnered national attention given the number of people who donate sperm to sperm banks and who now fear child support agencies will knock on their door one day looking for money. Groups opposed to the child support suit have said that the action by Kansas could have a chilling effect on other men’s desire to help couples in need of a donor, something that could end up hurting many uninvolved families.

If you find yourself facing the prospect of divorce, contact an experienced Ohio family law attorney who can help guide you through the difficult process. Count on the expertise of Twinsburg family law attorney Carol L. Gasper.

Source:Child support claim rankles sperm donor to lesbian couple,” by Kevin Murphy, published at

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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Ohio Launches Pilot Program Tying Child Support to Visitation Rights

Ohio University’s College of Health Sciences and Professions has announced it will participate in a project backed by federal funds that is meant to increase the time a child spends with both parents, specifically when the parents are no longer married and in the same house. The goal of the project is to have separated parents work more cooperatively together in the best interest of the child.

The Fairfield County Job and Family Services office is in charge of organizing the four-year initiative, estimated to cost $400,000 and officially referred to as Parenting Time Opportunities for Children to the 12th power, or PTOC12. The number 12 is meant to represent the 12 counties participating in the project: Coshocton, Cuyahoga, Fairfield, Franklin, Knox, Licking, Monroe, Pickaway, Stark, Summit, Union and Wayne.

Over the next four years, the state and local support agencies in the various counties will plan strategies meant to help establish visitation rights in coordination with the child support program. Right now, those two aspects of shared parenting are handled totally separately. The goal is to see if tying visitation schedules to child support orders can have a positive impact on the level of compliance with child support orders.

Under the system that is currently in place, if one parent does not pay the required child support amounts, legal action can be undertaken by the other party. However, if the parent with primary custody does not allow the other parent to see a child, there is not much that can be done. By combining both child support and parenting time, the coordinators hope that families will want to maximize shared parenting time and also stay current with child support payments.

The goal is to have the program up and running by the end of next year in Fairfield County and launch it in the other 11 counties sometime thereafter. Those in charge of implementing the new strategies say they will keep careful watch on data collected and determine if their goals are being achieved by tying together the two aspects of child support and visitation. The hope is that because of the widely divergent demographics in the participating counties – urban, rural, ethnic and economic – that the data collected will be helpful in providing a good example for the rest of the state to follow.

If you find yourself facing the prospect of divorce, contact an experienced Ohio family law attorney who can help guide you through the difficult process. Count on the expertise of Twinsburg family law attorney Carol L. Gasper.

Source: “Ohio University takes part in statewide study on separated parenting,” by Arian Smedley, published at

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