FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Here is a nice list of our frequently asked questions. Please click on any question and the answer will be shown to you. Thank you.
FAMILY LAW QUESTIONS
Both processes result in the termination of a marriage. Through the dissolution process the husband and wife fully cooperate with each other and reach an agreement on all issues, then petition the court to dissolve their marriage, approve their agreements, and make the agreements court orders.
A divorce starts as a contested process with the court determining any and all issues that the parties cannot ultimately resolve themselves. The divorce process can involve the issuance of restraining orders, subpoenas, the taking of depositions, and ultimately a trial.
The cost of dissolution can vary based on complexity and the extent of negotiations necessary to reach an agreement. Dissolutions with few issues can cost as little as $350; dissolutions with complicated issues can cost thousands. Most “average” dissolutions with children cost $750 to $950. It is often necessary to obtain appraisals to facilitate negotiations or, at an additional expense, to prepare deeds to transfer real estate and Qualified Domestic Relations orders to divide retirement accounts. Additionally, the parties must pay the court costs; Knox County requires a court cost deposit of $300, a portion of which is often refunded.
Attorney fees for divorces are based on the amount of time spent by the attorney and his staff, plus the litigation expenses incurred, and are therefore determined by the complexity of the issues involved and the reasonableness of the parties. Divorces can therefore cost from $750 to $25,000, and more in cases with significant assets/custody disputes. An “average” divorce (if there is such a thing) costs from to $2000 to $3500 if settled before trial; you can double that if there is a trial. Divorces are billed on a “time spent basis” plus expenses.
Attorney Giles does not give free consultations and a fee will be charged for the initial office conference. As Abraham Lincoln said, “All an attorney has to sell is his time and advice.”
Dissolutions are appropriate in cases with few issues or in cases involving reasonable people who are willing to be realistic, cooperative and are committed to reaching an agreement. Both parties must be realistic about who they are dealing with, and about themselves!
A divorce filing is called for when Restraining Orders are needed, when temporary custody of children and support are at issue, when one or the other (or both) of the parties are not reasonable and cooperative, or when there are significant issues upon which reasonable minds could differ.
Ohio does not recognize any Common Law marriage entered into in Ohio after 10/10/1991. Common Law marriages entered into before that in Ohio, or in other states which recognize common law marriages, are valid. To establish a common law marriage more than cohabitation is required; the parties must have actually agreed between themselves to be married, followed by holding themselves out to the community as being married, and being recognized by the community as being married.
Pursuant to statute, unwed mothers have custody of children born out of wedlock until the issue is resolved by a court having jurisdiction. DNA testing is often necessary to establish a father’s paternity. When the issues involving the allocation of parental rights are presented to a court, the parties then stand upon equality and no preference is given the mother. Fathers of children born out of wedlock may therefore petition the court and be awarded parenting time, shared parenting, or custody. Either parent may be required to pay child support pursuant to the Ohio Child Support Statutes and support orders can be made effective retroactive to the birth of a child.
The law permits the parties to agree to share parental rights and obligations and allows the court to issue a shared parenting decree if requested by one or both parties. Contrary to popular belief, the concept of shared parenting does not entail any particular parenting time arrangement and does often entail the payment of support. The parties may present an agreed plan for shared parenting or either parent may present a proposed plan. The plan must address the children’s physical living arrangements, financial support, health care and school placement. HOW those issues are addressed is up to the parties or the court if competing proposed plans are filed. Shared parenting plans can be very specific in addressing a myriad of issues or can be rather general. Legal custody is shared and most plans entail a requirement that the parents consult each other on all major health, education and welfare decisions.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE QUESTIONS
You have the right under the Constitution to not answer questions, the right to a lawyer, and the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. NEVER WAIVE YOUR RIGHTS UNLESS IT IS DONE UPON THE ADVICE OF YOUR LAWYER!! Citizens who are uninvolved witnesses have some civic duty to relate what they observed, but if you are concerned enough about your status to be asking this question, you should never speak to law enforcement without your attorney present, no matter what the police tell you! Always insist on your right to counsel and never consent to a search! Law enforcement will say you are not cooperating, but they define cooperation as a confession! Judges do not penalize people who seek legal advice. Do so politely, but firmly!
Calmly and politely produce your driver’s license, vehicle registration and insurance card. Say nothing; do not engage in chit chat by answering seemingly innocuous questions. When asked to get out of the car, ask if you are under arrest. If not, say you elect to remain in your car; if ordered out of the car, as opposed to being requested to exit the car, then do so and again ask if you are under arrest. Answer no questions. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES SUBMIT TO FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS, such as the one leg stand, walk and turn, or HGN (following his pen with your eyes). You might tell the officer your lawyer said these tests are neither fair nor accurate. Trust me; you will never pass them to the officer’s satisfaction. The officer will probably tell you that unless you do his tests and show him you are not under the influence and are able to drive safely he will have to arrest you. He is most likely going to arrest you anyway so make him make the arrest upon as little evidence as possible. Once you are advised you are under arrest, insist on being afforded an opportunity to contact a lawyer before doing or saying anything else!
This is a difficult and complex question and the best decision for you will be influenced by your personal circumstances, the law, and the policies of the local judge, so always attempt to contact an OVI lawyer to obtain the best advice for you. There is no correct answer for all of the people all of the time. Of course, it does no good to call a law office at 2:00 AM—my cell number is 740-398-6698—I can’t always answer the call but I will try.
The difficulty is that science tells us that breath alcohol tests are inherently unreliable. The results can adversely affected by elevated body temperature, mouth alcohol, the manner in which you blow into the machine, and a number of other factors. But in Ohio we are not permitted to attack the science behind the machine and raise these issues. See the Ohio Supreme Court decision in State. V. Vega and our appellate court’s decision in State. V. Sommers. You can be convicted of driving under the influence of drugs if your blood or urine has relatively low levels of THC metabolites, levels that may be present from smoking marijuana yesterday! The drugged driving laws have nothing to do with driving while impaired! Urine tests are a scientifically unreliable way to measure one’s true blood alcohol content at the time of the operation of a motor vehicle but our courts still admit urine test results and convict people based on them. Submitting to a test that is not scientifically accurate and then not being able to challenge that test is problematic. But, if you do not take the test there are serious consequences. How these consequences effect you is what you must know.
So, if you can’t get hold of your lawyer, then you must know the following so you can make the best possible decision FOR YOU:
If you are certain you will pass the test – see chart – then take it! You probably will still be cited but you should have an excellent chance of having the OVI charge dismissed or reduced if in fact your test result is under the legal limit of .08. You do run a risk of the test not being accurate, but it is a risk that is probably worth running. If the result is not what you expected, try to obtain a blood test by going to the hospital or a 24 hour clinic.
If you think it is close, or if you suspect you will test over – see chart – and you can’t get hold of your lawyer, then you have to understand the consequences of a decision to take the test or not:
Not giving the State the benefit of an over the limit blood, urine or breath alcohol test often increases the likelihood of being offered a plea to a reduced charge or of a not guilty verdict. If you decide you don’t want the State to have a sample, do not say you refuse the test, tell the officer that since you were not able to reach your lawyer you can’t decide whether to take the test or not. You will most likely be subjected to a one year Administrative Driver’s License Suspension (ALS); in Knox County you will be required to have to have an ignition interlock device and yellow restricted license plates to get occupational driving privileges and you will have to wait 30 days before you are eligible for privileges. You can appeal the suspension but those appeals are successful in only a minority of cases. Going to trial and winning doesn’t get your license back! Also, they will tell you that the driver’s license suspension that will be imposed if you take and do not pass the test will be for 90 days—what they don’t tell you is that if you are subsequently convicted for OVI the minimum suspension is 6 months!
If the case is not totally dismissed you will, in Knox County, most likely be sentenced to serve 3 days in jail even upon a plea to a reduced charge! If you are on probation your probation conditions might require you to submit to the test. If you subsequently decide to plead guilty to OVI, then the one year suspension is terminated and replaced by the mandatory OVI suspension which for a first offense is 6 months: but, if you are in Knox County, or have a prior offense within the last 20 years, you will most likely be sentenced to 3 days in jail that, if you had taken the test, would not have been imposed.
If the above penalties for not taking the test are problematic, such as for people who must drive and visit customers etc. then you might consider taking the test, but if you test over .08 BrAC, beating the OVI or being offered a plea to a reduced charge is less likely.
If you test over .08 but under .17, you only have to wait 15 days for occupational privileges, you will not need the ignition interlock device or “party plates,” and, if you subsequently decide to plead guilty, on a first offense you will not have to go to jail, just the 3 day “Driver Intervention Program. “ If you test over .17 you will suffer additional penalties: in addition to the DIP you will be sentenced to 3 days jail and be required to have the restricted license plates to obtain occupational driving privileges.
To sum this up, not submitting to the inaccurate test that you cannot attack often increases your chances of not being convicted of OVI but can have significant adverse effects on your driving rights and will lead to increased penalties if you are ultimately convicted of OVI. On the other hand, taking the test and testing over makes it easier for the State to convict. Neither option is very good. I therefore urge everyone to not drive if they have consumed enough alcohol (or any amount of drugs) that passing a blood, breath or urine test is at all doubtful, or if they are at all impaired. There is no excuse for driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs.
I submitted to the breath test, now I’m being asked to submit to a urine or blood test. Do I still suffer the penalties for refusing if I do not consent to the additional test?
Yes! The officer may ask you to submit to whichever test or tests he chooses, so he can ask for a blood, breath, or urine sample, or all three!
Does this sound complicated to you? You need a lawyer!
The initial step is a conference to discuss the facts and issues. That conference can cost from $125 to $250. From there, the cost will be determined by the level of service you desire and the issues in the case. These costs could run from less than $1000 for a case review and an agreed resolution whether that is a plea as charged or to a reduced charge, to many thousands for an aggressive defense involving motion practice, the retention of experts and possibly a jury trial.