Why You Should Hire an Attorney to Handle Your Family Law Financial Matters
Family law cases involving intense emotions and intimate relationships can be challenging to resolve. They can become even more complicated if there is money involved. Unfortunately, financial concerns and family law cases often go hand in hand.
Having an experienced family law attorney on your side can help you navigate financial family law matters and be aware of all the relevant factors that go into these cases. Joslyn Law Firm has earned a reputation as one of the leading family law firms in Ohio. Our attorneys know how important your family law matter is to you and will treat your case like it was their own. Call us today at (614) 420-2424 or submit your information online, and one of our lawyers will contact you for a free consultation. We have experience handling family law matters in Union, Delaware, Licking, Fairfield, Pickaway, Madison, and Franklin counties.
Few things in your life are as important as your financial well-being. Knowing that you are financially stable and can support yourself and your family is something you simply cannot take for granted. If you are going through a family law matter involving your finances, you cannot afford to be unprepared or uneducated. A few possible family law cases that could include your finances are:
- Child support
- Spousal support
- Divorce and division of marital property
- Prenuptial agreements
- Qualified domestic relations orders
In each family law case, your finances will either be considered or directly impacted by the case’s outcome. The first step in protecting your finances is educating yourself on these family law cases and acknowledging that hiring an experienced family law attorney is the best way forward.
Every parent in Ohio has the legal duty to provide for their children. This responsibility exists regardless of whether you reside with your child. If you do not have primary physical custody, then you may end up paying child support to your child’s other parent. It is essential to understand that child support is primarily based on income. This means that the money you earn from your job, investments, and other sources will likely be considered in calculating how much your child support order will be. The family court will probably require you to submit your paystubs, tax returns, and bank statements to get a clear picture of your finances. Child support is usually paid monthly and can be adjusted if it shows a change in your financial circumstances.
Spousal Support (Alimony)
In Ohio, the law allows one spouse to receive support payments from the other spouse during and after a divorce. Spousal support can only be ordered when there is a need for it. Spousal support should end once a spouse becomes financially independent. The amount of spousal support paid and the duration is determined by a judge based on several factors. Some of these factors include:
- The ages and the physical, mental, and emotional conditions of the parties
- The retirement benefits of the parties
- The duration of the marriage
- The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage
- The education levels of the parties
- The assets and liabilities of the parties, including but not limited to any court-ordered payments by the parties
- The contribution of each party to the education, training, or earning ability of the other party, including, but not limited to, any party’s contribution to the acquisition of a professional degree of the other party
Divorce And Division Of Marital Property
For many people, divorce can have a devastating effect on their finances. Even in cases where the divorce is resolved amicably, it is common for at least one side to walk away with considerably less money and assets. Although Ohio is an equitable asset state for divorce, this does not mean that you and your spouse will end up with a 50/50 split of the marital property. This usually means that the court will divide up the money, assets, and debt in a way that is fair to you and your spouse. Some examples of the types of property that may be divided upon divorce are:
- Bank accounts
- Real Estate
- Other investments (Mutual Funds, Annuities, etc.)
Still, not all property will be eligible for distribution during a divorce proceeding. Property acquired before the marriage will likely be considered “separate property” and will not be split up upon divorce. A few examples of property that may not be eligible for distribution are:
- Personal injury awards
- Passive income from separate property
- Property excluded by a Prenuptial Agreement
Qualified Domestic Relations Orders
If you or your spouse have a 401k, Roth IRA, a pension, or similar financial product that gained value during the marriage, it may be split up during a divorce. It is important to understand that only the increase in value experienced during the marriage will be eligible for distribution. So if you had a 401k worth $10,000 when you got married that’s now worth $50,000, you might be forced to give up part of the $40,000 that the 401k gained during your marriage.
To accomplish this goal, you or your spouse will have to file what is known as a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO). This legal document directs the administrator of the financial product to distribute a portion of the proceeds to a specific person. A QDRO must be drafted correctly and filed with the appropriate court to be valid.
The law in Ohio allows for an equitable distribution of marital property upon divorce. What is considered marital property is controlled by the law and the judge handling your divorce. Many couples wish to avoid leaving the distribution of assets up to the court by creating a prenuptial agreement, a “prenup.” A prenup is a legal document that describes how specific issues will be resolved if the parties divorce. A prenup can be drafted before or during a marriage. A prenup can describe how issues like alimony, the division of marital property, and the cost of the divorce will be resolved if the parties dissolve their marriage. Still, for a prenup to be valid, there must be complete transparency before signing the document. If a spouse is dishonest or fails to disclose assets before signing a prenup, the court may consider it invalid.
Most divorces happen within the first ten years of marriage. As a result, many couples do not consider how divorce can impact their retirement benefits. You may not know that retirement benefits accrued during your marriage may be subject to distribution if you divorce. This can include:
- Deferred compensation
Retirement benefits that you accumulated before your marriage or after a legal separation may not be eligible for distribution. You may also protect your retirement benefits by including them in a prenuptial agreement.
Award-Winning Ohio Family Law Attorneys
Joslyn Law Firm is one of the premier family law firms in Ohio. Our founding attorney, Brian Joslyn, has been recognized nationally as one of the best lawyers in the country. If you have a family law matter impacting your finances, trust us to help you secure the most favorable outcome for you and your family. Reach out to a family law lawyer at Joslyn Law Firm today by calling (614) 420-2424 or by contacting us online.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will A Divorce Affect My Finances?
In most cases, a divorce will likely impact your finances unless there is a prenuptial agreement. The law in Ohio says that property acquired during a marriage may be divided equitably between you and your spouse. This means that real estate, investments, savings, and retirement benefits could be impacted due to a divorce. Spousal support may be ordered if the court determines that it is fair and there is a need. Similarly, you may be ordered to pay child support if children are involved. For contentious divorces, you should also consider the cost of litigation, as prolonged courtroom battles could cost thousands in legal fees.
Can I Be Forced To Pay Spousal Support?
Yes. In certain situations, the court may order you to make spousal support payments to your spouse during and after the divorce. Unless there is an agreement between you and your spouse, the decision of whether you will pay spousal support will be made by the judge handling your divorce. While spousal support is primarily based on need, there are several factors that the judge will look at when determining whether spousal support is necessary, the amount to be paid, and the duration. Because each case is different, only an experienced Ohio family law attorney will be able to look at the circumstances surrounding your marriage and finances and give an accurate assessment of whether you will be ordered to pay spousal support.
How Much Can I Get In Child Support?
Whether you will be awarded child support and the amount will depend on several factors. Typically, child support will be awarded to a custodial parent (the parent that the child lives with) based on the income of both parents. This means that the income of both the custodial and the non-custodial parent and the amount of time the child spends with either parent will be considered when calculating a child support order. To be sure, a parent that does not have primary physical custody of the child will likely not be eligible to receive child support from the custodial parent. Child support is broken down to a monthly amount and usually lasts until the child reaches 18 years of age or graduates from high school. It is also important to remember that you and your spouse are free to agree on child support. If that happens, the agreement will become enforceable for child support and be finalized by the court.
Can I Be Forced To Pay Child Support?
Yes. If you do not have primary physical custody of your children, you will likely be ordered to pay child support to your spouse. Your spouse may not want child support; if that’s true, you will not be on the hook. But if they do ask the court for child support payments, then the court will look at both of your incomes and calculate an amount. In many cases, a formula is used, but other factors like your employment experience, education level, and special needs of the children may be considered. It is important to remember that failure to pay support can result in the loss of your driver’s license, garnishment of your wages, and possible jail time.
Can My Spouse Receive A Portion Of My Retirement Benefits?
Yes. If the retirement benefits were accrued when you were married, then your spouse may be entitled to receive a portion of it. Only the increase in value of your retirement benefit during your marriage will be eligible for distribution upon divorce. Any part of the benefit that accrued before the marriage or after a legal separation may not be distributed to your spouse when you divorce. It is important to note that a prenuptial agreement that excludes retirement benefits from distribution upon divorce can protect your retirement benefits from being split up.
Should I Get A Prenuptial Agreement?
Many couples find the concept of a prenuptial agreement uncomfortable and, in some cases, even a bad omen. But recently, more couples have been open to the idea of a prenuptial agreement as the stigma surrounding them begins to fade. You should consider a prenuptial agreement if you or your spouse have significant assets going into marriage. While no one wants to focus on potentially getting a divorce, the smart play is to set at least some ground rules that will protect both of you in the event the worst happens. Antenuptial agreements, sometimes called “postnups,” may also be a consideration if you and your spouse want to wait until after you are married to decide how the finances will be handled if you divorce. In either case, only an experienced family law attorney can look at your circumstances and advise on whether a pre or post-nuptial agreement is suitable for you.
Do I Need A Lawyer To Handle My Divorce?
No law requires you to hire an attorney to handle your divorce. But if your financial future is essential to you, you will retain one as soon as possible. Divorce can be expensive, and not having the proper counsel during this time could cost you almost everything you own. This is especially true if your spouse has a lawyer and you do not. Even if you and your spouse are on good terms and have agreed, it is still recommended that you have a lawyer go over the proposed agreement to ensure that your rights are protected and that you are not being taken advantage of.
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