It is common for women to stay in unhappy marriages for longer than necessary due to their concerns over their financial stability, their children’s well-being, or the reaction of friends and family.
Family law matters such as property division, child custody, alimony, and child support can be overwhelming, and these decisions must be made with your future in mind. How these matters are settled could affect how secure you and your children feel for many years to come.
At Woodford Sathappan McGee, we have a passion for helping women navigate family law matters, in a way that leaves them feeling confident about their future. Our law firm is solely dedicated to the representation of women.
We are here to guide you through the legal process and to create a safe place for you to feel heard and share your experiences.
We want what’s best for you, which means using mediation wherever possible while remaining prepared to fight your case using litigation when necessary.
Contact our law office today at 380-212-3731 and arrange a free consultation with a Hamilton County family law attorney.
The law firm of Woodford Sathappan McGee was founded in 2001 when three highly skilled family law attorneys, Natalie McGee, Hari Sathappan, and Katie Woodford, came together with a shared goal: A passion to help women through divorce and family law issues so that they could feel confident about their futures.
Our legal team prioritizes mediation and negotiation and we have the skills and experience necessary to guide even the most high-conflict and complex relationships towards more amicable agreements.
That said, we are also ready to stand as your fierce advocate in court if needed. We never give up on a case when things get tough.
We are the only family law practice in Hamilton County to exclusively represent women. When you agree to representation from us, you will have an experienced family law attorney, with a deeper understanding of the issues women face, by your side from start to finish.
Our attorneys are dedicated to working through your legal issues while also taking the time to understand your needs and listen to your case compassionately, with a sympathetic ear.
Our practice areas cover Hamilton County, Blue Ash, Westerville, Columbus, and Cincinnati, OH.
For many of the women we work with, there is one family law matter that causes the most concern, child custody.
Child custody is usually a highly contested issue, and while everyone may want what’s best for the children, it is common for ex-spouses to disagree about what that looks like.
In Ohio, traditional terms such as sole custody and joint custody are no longer used in family law cases.
Instead, parents are given “parenting rights and responsibilities.”
Parental rights cover legal custody, which refers to the rights of each parent to make decisions on their child’s behalf. This could involve decisions regarding the school they attend, the extracurricular activities they participate in, whether they follow religious practices, or where they receive medical and dental care.
Most child custody arrangements will enable both parents to make decisions on their child’s behalf. However, if you believe that your ex-spouse should not be allowed to make decisions on behalf of your child, then you will need to have a good reason.
For example, if they are using controlled substances or are abusive, then you may be able to limit their rights. If this is the case, it is a good idea to retain an experienced lawyer to help you prove your claims.
Parental responsibilities or physical custody refers to the amount of time spent with each parent. The child will usually live with one parent, and the other will have visitation rights.
The court usually prefers to keep both parents involved in the child’s life, keeping a sense of routine and stability. For example, a visitation schedule could give a parent access to their child every other weekend and one night each week.
However, if you think you should have sole physical custody, as the other parent may pose a risk to your child, you will need to present substantial evidence. Even if you can prove that your ex-spouse is not fit to have parental responsibilities, the court is likely to still award supervised visitation, which you will need to help accommodate.
Thanks to our unique ability to create a safe place for women, we have been able to help many clients who have suffered from domestic violence. We understand the need to act carefully in cases involving domestic violence require, and we are prepared to help.
We can advise you on getting to a place of safety and will help you to file a protection order, which will place a legal obligation on your ex-spouse to stay away from you and your children.
In addition, we are prepared to use litigation to protect your future.
If you are in danger, then you should call 911 so that they can provide immediate support and ensure you are safe.
Legal separation or divorce involves property division, which often causes a lot of hostility.
When it comes to dividing property fairly and equitably, it is important you have guidance from a Hamilton County family law attorney who will prioritize your future and ensure your spouse does not hide assets.
If your case involves a private business, high-value assets, offshore properties, or hidden assets, it is essential that you seek advice from an attorney who can make sure everything is divided fairly.
The first thing your attorney will help you do is to split your property into separate and marital property:
Inheritance, gifts, and anything a party owned before the marriage is considered separate. Separate property belongs to each individual and is not subject to division.
Anything that either party bought or obtained while legally married is classified as marital property. Ohio operates under equitable distribution, meaning marital property must be divided in a ‘fair and just manner’ instead of an equal split.
The property will be divided based on each spouse’s contribution, who has primary physical custody of the children, the length of the marriage, each spouse’s needs, and more.
Both parents have a legal obligation to support their children financially. Usually, the non-custodial parent will pay child support to the other unless the other parent earns significantly more.
Ohio family law is vague about what child support can be used to pay for. However, it must be used to ensure that the child’s needs are met. That could include shelter, clothes, food, child care, toys, education, and more.
Spousal support, sometimes referred to as alimony, is not always awarded. If it is awarded, then it is so that both spouses can continue to maintain the lifestyle they have become accustomed to while they were married.
Some of our clients find that spousal support is a lifeline. It ensures that they can move forward with their life, knowing that they are financially secure. If you sacrificed your career or education to care for children and your home, then your sacrifices should be taken into account.
Your Hamilton County divorce lawyer will fight for your right to alimony if your case warrants it.
The need for a Hamilton County family law attorney doesn’t always end when a couple finalizes their divorce. While you may be eager to put the marriage behind you and not look back, sometimes you may be forced to take further legal action further down the line, and we can help.
When your divorce is finalized, you will receive a legally binding document called a divorce decree. This will place obligations on you and your ex-spouse. However, life sometimes gets in the way, and it can become difficult for you to adhere to your decree. When this happens, you cannot simply refuse to meet your obligations. Instead, you will need to file for a divorce modification.
In accordance with the Ohio Family Code, you can only secure a modification to your divorce decree if:
Examples of justifications for a divorce decree modification include job loss or change of income, the discovery of hidden assets, changing needs of the child, or illness.
After divorce, if your ex-spouse ignores the terms of your divorce decree, for example, they don’t show up for visitation, or they don’t pay child support, then it can be incredibly frustrating.
When this happens, you cannot take matters into your own hands. You may be tempted to refuse visitation to encourage them to pay the money you owe them. If you do this, you could also be guilty of contempt. Instead, you should seek help from a Hamilton County family law attorney who can help you file contempt proceedings.
A judge could seize assets from your ex-spouse, take money straight from their wages, or even issue a jail sentence. It may also justify filing for a modification, such as limiting their parental rights and responsibilities.
Fortunately, child support and alimony do not have a statute of limitations, meaning they don’t disappear just because someone doesn’t pay them. If your ex-spouse has missed several payments, then at some point, they will need to pay everything they owe to you with interest.
When our clients come to us, they often dislike the idea of sitting down with their ex-spouse. However, mediation and negotiation have many benefits, and many of the women we help are pleasantly surprised by what they can achieve with our guidance.
As trained mediators, we can help couples who are struggling to talk to each other or who are tackling complex issues that can feel impossible to navigate. While we are always prepared to fight for our clients in court if needed, we believe that mediation should be tried first.
Just like the courts, we always prioritize the needs of children above all else. When parents can sit down together and work out their issues in a professional and supportive environment, it protects children from witnessing conflict. When both parties can stay amicable, it can help children adapt to the divorce with as little friction as possible.
When spouses cannot agree, the family court will take over and place obligations on both parties. This could result in a divorce decree that neither party is happy with. Conversely, when you can come to your own arrangements, you can make sure that they fit in with your work schedule and other responsibilities. The best way to ensure that your divorce decree meets your and your family’s needs is to determine its stipulations yourself.
The court will step in when you can’t agree on key issues. You may need different hearings to reach a decision on a contested issue. You will need to pay court fees and wait for the court to be available to hear your case. Litigation costs time and money, but a skilled mediator will limit the need for it.
Even when you decide upon your own agreements, they will still need to be approved by the judge. The judge will decide based on Ohio family law. When you come to agreements with the help of an attorney, it will maximize the chances of your agreement being approved by a judge the first time around.
At Woodford Sathappan McGee, we create a space where everyone can express themselves and feel heard. We will help you and your ex-spouse to understand each other’s points of view and come to amicable agreements. A divorce does not necessarily mean your relationship with your ex-spouse has ended. It has only changed in nature. While you may not walk away being best friends, you should have a healthier relationship than you would have otherwise.
If there are no contested issues and you and your spouse don’t have any children or high-value assets, then you may file for divorce online. Remember, a divorce decree could have a significant impact on your future; therefore, we recommend you avoid filing for divorce without an attorney.
We offer a free consultation, so at the very least, you can contact us and get some initial advice about your next steps.
Our team is made up of both men and women, and we will assign an attorney with the most experience in issues related to your case. However, we are female-led, and if you would instead work with a female attorney, no matter the reason, we will happily accommodate.
The divorce process could be over in as little as four months if there are no contested issues. However, the more issues there are, the longer your divorce will take, and it is not uncommon for the entire process to take two years or more.
We will help you move the process along quickly by minimizing court involvement without sacrificing any important aspects of your case.
The cost of divorce also depends on the number of contested issues and the degree of court involvement. In your free consultation, we can determine how much your case could cost, so that you can decide on your next steps from a place of clarity.
If your divorce decree includes a child support obligation, it will need to be paid until the child is 18. However, it may be paid for even longer if the child has ongoing needs such as mental or physical disability or further education.
Our dedication to women allows us to provide comprehensive legal support throughout every stage of the divorce process. We will prioritize your needs and those of your children and ensure that you have a bright future to look forward to.
We take great pride in our approach to the attorney-client relationship and will support you throughout all legal proceedings while lending a sympathetic ear when you need it most.
No matter the complexity of your case, we are here to help.
Contact us today at 380-212-3731 to schedule a free consultation.