Full-Service Family Law Counseling
A trusted counselor to guide you through a family breakup
Michael C. Asseff Attorney at Law offers high quality, flexible representation near Crocker Park in Westlake, Ohio, right across from Crocker Park. For over 15 years, attorney Michael Asseff has dedicated himself to working with Ohio families and their family law concerns.
Due to its extremely emotional and personal nature, family issues present a difficult and challenging area of the law that often sees otherwise good people behaving in vindictive and irrational ways. Focusing on the needs and goals of the client, my office offers services covering all aspects of family law, including dissolution, legal separation, juvenile custody, juvenile child support, same-sex marriage, prenuptial agreements, domestic violence civil protection and anti-stalking orders, and of course full-scale divorces. In the case of divorce, I will also handle all related matters including property division, alimony (also known as spousal support), child custody and visitation, and child support. And because life circumstances almost inevitably change, my office also handles all post-judgment matters, including custody or support modification as well as contempt proceedings for violation of the court’s orders.
At the beginning of every case, and even before fees are discussed, I remind all clients to keep in mind that divorces need not always be ugly, knock down, drag out, scorched earth campaigns. At the end of the day, either the parties themselves can determine how best to untie the knot, divide the assets and debts, and raise the children, or an appointed stranger will do it for them — that stranger being the judge or magistrate presiding over the case. Remember, a judge or magistrate usually knows very little (apart from what is heard at trial) about the personalities involved, the children’s hopes, dreams and fears, the family’s community relationships, and other intangible aspects of the case. With this in mind, I tell my clients that they themselves are often best able to plan their rest of their lives by agreement as opposed to judicial decree. Of course, sometimes settlement is impossible, and the issues must be battled out in court. Either way, I will stand up for your rights and represent your interests no matter what happens.
Northeast Ohio attorney handles child custody and child support
Child custody and child support can be two of the most hotly contested issues when a mother and a father part ways, either through the divorce process or for unwed parents in juvenile court. In divorce court, a judge is sometimes reluctant to designate one parent as the sole residential parent and legal custodian (also called “sole custody”) in the absence of a compounding issue like domestic violence, substance abuse, or parental indifference. For this reasons, many judges tend to prefer what is called “shared parenting” in Ohio, under the presumption that a child’s best interests are promoted when both parents are actively involved in the upbringing. Indeed, many times shared parenting works beautifully; but other times it can be a disaster, especially where it is decreed between two people who just got through destroying each other in the court room. Shared Parenting is also challenging if one or both parents becomes involved in a new relationship, especially in a relationship with someone having other children from a previous relationship. There are many other factors that need to be considered in weighing the pros and cons of sole custody versus shared parenting, so it is important to get the input from an experienced divorce attorney before committing to one or the other
Child support is actually not as disputed as people might think, even in an otherwise highly contentious divorce. Why? In Ohio, child support is calculated based upon statutory tables contained in the Chapter 3119 of the Ohio Revised Code. These tables establish pre-set amounts based upon the combined gross incomes of both parents. The judge has nothing to do with determining this amount, and because that amount is presumed to be the correct amount of child support, a judge must have a specific legal reason or reasons (also set forth in Chapter 3119 of the Ohio Revised Code) in order to award child support above or below the pre-set amount (called “deviation”). The parents can also agree to a higher or lower amount of child support than that set forth in the child support tables.
One common myth in custody and support matters is that if the parents each have an equal amount of parenting time with the children, then neither parent has to pay child support. However, the child support tables do not allow this result. It is true that the tables do grant a small deduction where the supporting parent exercises 90 or more “overnight visits” per year; but even with 180 overnights a year, the tables do not reduce the prescribed child support amount to zero. And of course there are additional factors that come into play when calculating child support. You should always consult with an experienced attorney who can go through the entire child support process with you.
Dependable advocacy for post-judgment modifications to support and custody agreements
As anyone who has been through a divorce with children can tell you, there comes a time when the custody schedule no longer works or the child support amount is either inadequate for the receiving parent or too burdensome for the obligated parent. Ohio law allows for what is called “post-judgment” or “post-decree” modification of child custody and child support. In almost all cases, the parent seeking modification must show two things: (1) that a significant and unforseen change in circumstances has occurred in the life of the child, the parent(s), or both the child and the parent(s); and (2) that modification will promote the best interest of the child. For this reason, modification can in many cases require its own mini-trial, unless the parents agree to the modification. It is by no means a given, and you will need skilled and experienced counsel to guide you through that process.
Rely on us for your family law issues
Child custody and support are just two of the many issues involved in the termination of a marriage or the break-up of a relationship. Regardless of your family law issue or goals, the Law Office of Michael C. Asseff Attorney at Law can develop a plan of action and guide you through each step of the way. For your free consultation, please contact the firm online or call 440-520-1222 today.