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"Help!  My marriage is ending.  What should I do?"

Whether you are surprised that your spouse seeks to terminate your marriage, or whether you agree that the marriage should end, you are still left with many unanswered questions. You may feel confused, stressed, and worried.  Your emotions can be out of control.  Our firm represents men and women in these situations and we are here to assist you through the process. Talk to us.  We will help you to understand the Law and your options.  Even if you are not sure what route you want to take, talk to us about your situation.  There is no charge for your initial consultation and it is always better to be informed of your rights. We hope that your mind will be put at ease when you understand your options and how we can help.
  • Divorce or Dissolution?
  • Divorce for the Elderly
  • Military Divorce & Dissolution
  • Complex or High-Asset Divorce
  • LGBT - Ending a Same-Sex Marriage
  • Parental Alienation
  • Legal Separation
  • Civil Protection Order (CPO) or Restraining Order

Divorce or Dissolution?

Many clients ask about the difference between a divorce or dissolution and which is the better choice.  The answer is…. “It depends”.
In a nutshell:
A  Dissolution of Marriage is a legal method of ending your marriage by agreement.  This means that everything has to be agreed upon, including the custody and support of your children; division of assets and debts , spousal support, division of retirement assets, etc.
Dissolution of marriage offers many advantages over a traditional divorce.  The first consideration for many couples is that a dissolution can be a much faster process than a contested divorce.  Once your petition has been filed, a hearing before the Judge (or Magistrate in some counties) will take place approximately 30 days later.  A dissolution is usually much less expensive – both in terms of the legal fees and costs, as well as in the emotional price to be paid.
Sometimes, the spouses negotiate the terms of the Dissolution before the final agreement is reached. Sometimes the parties have already agreed upon everything before they see us, although we usually point out some things that still need to be addressed.
Some Dissolutions are very simple and some are more complicated. It depends on the issues of the case and the motivation of the spouses to resolve these issues by agreement.
It is a common misunderstanding that in a dissolution the couple gets one attorney who works with them to resolve the issues and generate the agreement.  In fact, an Ohio attorney can only represent one of the parties, even though it is very common that only one attorney prepares the documents which reflect the parties’ agreement.  In a Dissolution, sometimes parties opt to both have attorneys (for example; if some issues are not completely agreed upon and the spouses each need help in resolving these issues) and sometimes one of the parties is not represented.  Either way, you should have the advice of an attorney if you want to obtain a dissolution.
Our firm will work with you to identify all of the assets and debts associated with the marriage, and to determine the most equitable and fair distribution of these between the parties.  We are also committed to the best interests of your children. We will be happy to discuss with you the options available for custody, shared parenting, support and other issues related to your children. We will assist you in making sure that your interests are protected in all aspects of your case.
If you and your spouse do not agree on the resolution of your case, then filing for divorce may be the best option for you. We will certainly be able to assist you in making this decision.
If you have significant interests in matters close to your heart or concerning your livelihood – or if custody of your children is in dispute, then it is important that you do not compromise. Further, if your case involves significant assets such as a family business, retirement funds, or large debt – then Divorce may be the best avenue for you.  We will help you to understand when it is time to stand up and fight for something.  We will dig in and fight aggressively for you.
We know what is worth fighting over.

Divorce for the Elderly

With advances in medicine, technology and the age of the baby boomer generation, the elderly have grown to become a significant portion of our society.
Divorce can quickly become complex when dealing with retirement accounts, pensions, multiple properties and antique collections. Clients rely on us for our attention to detail and our skill at guiding productive mediations as client representatives.
We understand that after building a lifetime together, you would like to see the divorce handled in the most dignified fashion possible. We strive to meet your needs while developing an effective case strategy that allows you to effectively divide assets and debts, and move on with your life. We will give careful consideration to individuals on a fixed income, individuals with medical conditions and individuals with children and grandchildren. We fully understand that a divorce can affect every aspect of your life and your extended family. Count on us to be there for you every step of the way.

Military Divorce & Dissolution

Representing Military Personnel or Military Spouses in Ohio
Divorce or dissolution involving military personnel brings with it special circumstances and considerations that require the assistance of an experienced family law attorney. Such considerations include residency determinations, property, pension and military benefits division, child custody and visitation schedules, and child and spousal support.
Do you want a divorce but are on active duty?
Spouses who want to divorce and are in agreement on all issues have a couple of options available to them. First, if both parties are present in the central Ohio area, you can pursue dissolution. This is generally the least expensive option available to individuals seeking to end their marriage. However, if you are on active duty and are overseas, you generally will need to pursue an uncontested divorce. This process is more efficient and cost-effective than a contested divorce. In an uncontested divorce, only one spouse must be present at the court hearing for the divorce to be finalized. In special circumstances, we may be able to use a private judge to handle your divorce or dissolution if you or your spouse are overseas. In some cases, we may be able to use video conferencing or Skype, which might allow you to "appear" in front of a private judge for dissolution or uncontested divorce.
Have you been served with divorce papers while in active service?
The government protects its servicemen and servicewomen on active duty from being involved in any court judgments while they are deployed, including divorce actions. Specifically, the Soldier's and Sailor's Relief Act and the Service members Civil Relief Act state that any civil cases will be suspended or postponed while you are on active duty. If you would like to learn more about your rights under these Acts.

Complex or High-Asset Divorce

There are several factors that are involved in the determination of what constitutes a complex divorce. Assets, debts, and parental rights and responsibilities are the main factors. Certain circumstances make a life more complex than otherwise, including the lives of children and the extent of debt. A divorce can be complex based on the life alone, regardless of the presence of a family business, multiple properties and million-dollar antiques. No matter the situation, Panico & Scopetti can guide you through the process in the most efficient and effective manner possible.

LGBT - Ending a Same-Sex Marriage

Legislation involving same-sex marriage is in a constant state of flux. If you have questions or need legal guidance, it is wise to seek the counsel of an experienced family law attorney.
Ending a same-sex marriage can involve any number of actions, including dissolution, divorce, legal separation or annulment of a domestic partnership.
Currently, Ohio legislation does not allow for same-sex marriages. The state does, however, recognize marriages from states that allow them. In other words, if you and your partner were legally married in another state, you can legally end the marriage in Ohio. Count on our firm to remain current with changing legislation. As the laws change, so does our guidance. Clients can trust us to provide valuable insight regarding options, obstacles and challenges.
It is important to remember that you can file a dissolution in any county in the state of Ohio. If you find yourself in a jurisdiction that might not recognize the marriage from another state, we can help. Contact our firm as soon as possible. The sooner we get involved, the sooner we can begin guiding you toward a successful resolution.

Parental Alienation

Parental alienation is an unfortunate side effect of divorce. Whether through conscious decisions or subconscious actions, parents can inundate children with subtle cues and negative feelings about the other party. This, sadly, can have a disastrous effect on the child's relationship with the targeted parent and the child's overall mental health.
The court approaches allegations of parental alienation with a great deal of disfavor. It can be difficult to prove because a significant portion of the conversations take place behind closed doors. Having said that, the court will levy devastating penalties upon a parent when alienation can be proven to occur. Whether this alienation comes in the form of specific acts such as buying toys or going to sporting events, or covert acts it should be dealt with in great haste.
It is important to remember that alienation does not always have to occur from parent to parent. It is possible that a parent will seek to color a child's impression with a grandparent, aunt or uncle.

Legal Separation

The most common reasons why people choose legal separation include:
  1. Religious beliefs: People of some faiths face a major dilemma if their marriage is in trouble. Legal separation offers an acceptable alternative to divorce or dissolution in most cases.
  2. Personal reasons: Physical or mental illness, health care insurance and children are just a few of the many personal reasons people choose to obtain a legal separation as opposed to divorce.
  3. Cooling off: Sometimes, trouble spots in a marriage are just that — trouble spots. They do not last forever. A legal separation can provide the time needed for cooler heads and hearts to prevail.
  4. Testing the waters: Divorce is a major decision that changes your life; some people want to be "sure" before they make it. A legal separation can give you a better idea of whether divorce is what you want. If so, the legal separation agreement can make the actual process of divorce easier.

Civil Protection Order (CPO) or "Restraining Order"

At the law offices of Panico & Scopetti, we represent men and women throughout central Ohio who are on either side of the civil protection order petition. If you are currently in an abusive situation or someone has made a false accusation of domestic violence against you do not wait to speak with a lawyer. Also known as a restraining order, obtaining a civil protection order is one of the first legal steps you can take to protect yourself against assault or family violence and domestic abuse. To make that happen, we will guide you through the necessary steps and represent you in the domestic relations court hearing. Once there, our firm will state your case as aggressively as needed to protect your rights and safety.

Civil Protection Order Defense

An accusation of family abuse or violence can be devastating — especially if you are currently embroiled in a divorce or child custody dispute. It can prevent you from seeing your children, from being able to go certain places, and from having access to your own home and property. Unfortunately, false accusations are becoming more common as people have recognized them for what they are: a shortcut to victory. If you have been falsely accused, our lawyer will vigorously and aggressively fight to protect you from having this powerful legal tool misused against you.