Columbus Ohio Divorce Lawyer Highlight the Conciliation Process Under Ohio Divorce Laws
When either party files for a divorce, annulment, legal separation or dissolution in Ohio, there is a special process for reconciliation if one or both parties want to resolve the issues and continue their marriage. Our law firm can explain this process and help you navigate potential traps for the unwary if you want to use the conciliation process defined by Ohio Revised Code §3015.091. Under this provision, either spouse or the court can move to have the parties participate in the conciliation process once thirty days have passed since service of the summons. In this blog post, our Ohio divorce lawyers describe this process along with potential issues that might arise.
The parties might be ordered to participate in marital counseling (family counseling if there are minor children). This judge will specify the background of the counsel, such as licensed psychologists, private or public marriage counselors, community health services, members of the clergy, family service agencies, doctors, or other counselors. The order will also specify certain aspects of the counseling that include:
- Duration of the counseling
- Conditions imposed
- Type of counseling
The court also will determine how the cost of the process and counseling should be allocated between the parties. The dissolution, divorce, legal separation, or annulment cannot proceed to judgment until the family counseling or conciliation process has been completed, and compliance with the order is reported to the court.
While the conciliation process can result in a viable marriage being resurrected, there are issues that the parties should be aware of when participating in this process. Parties should consider seeking the legal advice of a Columbus divorce lawyer about certain issues. The marital counseling process can last up to ninety days if conciliation is ordered, but the process can last as long as the case is pending if family counseling is ordered.
Potential Pitfalls During the Conciliation Process
If either party decides to move out of the family home, the conciliation period could adversely impact one of the spouses’ rights. For example, the party vacating the family residence might be in a disadvantaged position in terms of being awarded the home. While this does not mean that the spouse who moves out will not be able to be compensated for his or her interest in the family home, but the party who remains in the home might be in a better position to be awarded the home.
A parent’s decision to move out of the family residence can have a dramatic impact on custody orders and parenting plans. One common scenario involves a dad moving out of the family home while the children remain in the home with mom. This scenario can cause significant obstacles during a contested child custody dispute. The parent who has moved out will be at the whim of the other parent in terms of access to his or her children without a stipulated parenting-time schedule. The parent in the home might gain the advantage in a disputed custody case because of the individual’s status as the caretaker for the children. Further, the parent who moves out could be denied access to his or her children which might allow the other party to contend that the absent parent expressed no interest in visiting.
Issues involving property division or support also can arise during the conciliation period. Assets or income might be diverted or wasted by the other spouse. Financial documents also might disappear during this period, so you should talk to your Columbus divorce attorney about what documents should be gathered and copied. If you suspect that your spouse is attempting to give away or sell off assets, this information should be provided to your attorney promptly.
The key point to take away from this blog is that legal representation during the conciliation process is important. Our Columbus divorce lawyers at Dawes Legal, LLC invite you to contact us to learn about your legal options. We invite you to call us today 614-733-9999 or email us.