Tag: ohio divorce attorney

Announcing Babb & Rowland (and free stuff)!

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2013 ushers in a new chapter in our firm’s history.  Starting January 1st we will be Babb & Rowland, LLP.

We will be providing the same client-centered services and adding some new faces.  Jamie L. Anderson will be taking over the reigns of the domestic relations practice as we bid farewell and best wishes to Patricia Campbell who will be moving her domestic relations practice to Bellbrook.  Jamie is formerly with the law firm of Weade, Anderson, Phipps & Aulman in Xenia, and she will bring her years of service to Babb & Rowland.  You can find out more about Jamie at www.OhioDivorceAttorney.com. Zachary Bushatz will continue to service clients facing bankruptcy.  To find out more about the high-level bankruptcy experience Zach brings to the table, check out www.DaytonBankruptcyAttorney.com.   Partner Mark J. Babb, www.MarkBabb.com, continues to provide the best in criminal defense and Charles M. Rowland II will continue to provide aggressive defense to the accused drunk driver.

To celebrate we are giving away free chocolate.  Stop by the office or drop us your address and we will be sure to send you something to keep us in mind.  We don’t have an ulterior motive to keep your address and we will never send you annoying emails.  This is just a way to say thanks to our clients.  We are hopeful that the New Year brings you joy and prosperity and that you remember our law firm should you ever need client-centered representation.  From all of us to all of you, “Happy New Year.”


Adoption Law: Small Gifts Do Not Support Make

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Natural Parent’s Small Monetary Gifts to Child Are Not ‘Provision of Support and Maintenance’ Under Adoption Law

Seal of the Supreme Court of Ohio Source

Today in, In re Adoption of M.B., Slip Opinion No. 2012-Ohio-236, the Supreme Court of Ohio ruled that when a biological parent of a child has failed, without justifiable cause, to make any court-ordered monthly child support payments for at least one year prior to the filing of another person’s petition to adopt that child, small monetary gifts made by the parent directly to the child during that year do not constitute payment of “support and maintenance as required by law or judicial decree,” and therefore, pursuant to state adoption laws, a probate court may approve the child’s adoption without the consent of the biological parent.  The Court’s 7-0 decision, authored by Justice Terrence O’Donnell, reversed a decision of the 9th District Court of Appeals and reinstated a judgment of the Summit County Probate Court.

At issue in the case was an interpretation of R.C. 3107.07.  R.C. 3107.07(A) provides that consent to adoption is not required of “[a] parent of a minor … [who] has failed without justifiable cause … to provide least one year immediately preceding either the filing for the maintenance and support of the minor as required by law or judicial decree for a period of at of the adoption petition or the placement of the minor in the home of the petitioner.”

Writing for a unanimous Court in today’s decision, Justice O’Donnell observed that in order to secure approval of his adoption petition without the consent of Stephen,  R.C. 3107.07 required Thomas to show that Stephen had failed to “provide maintenance and support as required by law or judicial decree.”

He wrote: “In the instant matter, a Florida court ordered Stephen to pay $1000 per month as support for M.B., and he concedes that he failed to make any of those payments between September 12, 2007, and September 12, 2008, the year preceding the filing of the adoption petition.  He did not provide for the maintenance and support of the child as required by law or judicial decree. Nonetheless, he contends that by providing M.B. with a $125 gift card for Christmas and a $60 cash gift for her birthday, he provided maintenance and support during the requisite year. However, these gifts were neither legally nor judicially required, and they represent only a small portion of one monthly child-support obligation and an even smaller portion of the annual obligation. A gift is a voluntary transfer of property to another made gratuitously by a donor. The Christmas gift card and birthday cash are de minimis gifts, not maintenance and support triggering the requirement for Stephen’s consent to the adoption, and they were not made pursuant to court order as the statute requires.  Thus, Stephen failed to provide maintenance and support to M.B. as required by law or judicial decree for the year preceding the filing of the adoption petition.”

“A biological parent’s consent to adoption would be required if that parent could show by clear and convincing evidence some justifiable cause for the failure to provide support. … In this case, however, the probate court concluded that no justifiable cause existed, and Stephen did not challenge that determination in the court of appeals and does not dispute it here. The record before us demonstrates by clear and convincing evidence that Stephen failed to provide maintenance and support without justifiable cause for the year preceding the filing of the adoption petition, and thus R.C. 3107.07(A) specifies that his consent to the adoption was not required.”

With regard to the proper standard of appellate review in this and similar cases, Justice O’Donnell wrote:  “In applying this statute, a probate court undertakes a two-step analysis.  First, to determine if a parent made a financial contribution that comports with the requirements of R.C. 3107.07(A) to contribute maintenance and support and second, if it finds a failure of support, then to determine whether justifiable cause for the failure has been proven by clear and convincing evidence.”

Quoting from the Supreme Court’s 1956 decision in In re Adoption of Bovett, Justice O’Donnell wrote: “A probate court has discretion to determine whether the biological parent provided support as contemplated by R.C. 3107.07(A) ‘and his or her judgment should not be tampered with absent an abuse of discretion.’ … A probate court determination of whether a financial contribution constitutes maintenance and support for purposes of R.C. 3107.07(A) is reviewed for an abuse of discretion; but whether justifiable cause for the failure to pay child support has been proven by clear and convincing evidence is a separate question for the probate court and will not be disturbed on appeal unless it is against the manifest weight of the evidence. Thus, we clarify the dual nature of the standard of review on this question.”

Contact Charles M. Rowland II at (937) 318-1384 to schedule a free consultation about your divorce case today.  Mr. Rowland is past-president of the Greene County Bar Association and has written the book on Civil Litigation in Ohio.  He has served on the Beavercreek School Board and as President of TCN-BHS, Greene County’s Mental Health/Drug & Alcohol treatment provider.  He is a 2005 Fellow to the Ohio State Bar Foundation and is one of only a few Greene County Attorneys who have been selected to the American Bar Association Foundation.  Charles M. Rowland II and his team of divorce attorneys, financial analysts, detectives and litigation experts can help you through a simple dissolution or complex divorce litigation.  When there is so much on the line, call someone with the credentials to win your case. 1-888-ROWLAND.

Mediation in Divorce Court

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Throughout Ohio families are settling disputes in mediation and not in the courtroom. Ohio Revised Code 3109.052 authorizes mediation in cases involving the  allocation of parental rights and responsibilities.  Many courts now require that the parties try to reach an accommodation before they can terminate or modify a shared parenting plan.  An experienced attorney should be able to give you advice about the differences amongst the mediation programs offered by local courts.  Below is an example of a typical local rule regarding mediation; this rule is from the Greene County Domestic Relations Court:


In any action for divorce, legal separation, annulment, or the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities for the care of a minor child, or children where the parents do not agree upon an appropriate allocation of parental rights and responsibilities, the Court may Order the parents to mediate their differences on such issues as the Court directs in accordance with mandates of Section 3109.052 of the Ohio Revised Code. The Court shall refer the parties to a mediator of the Court’s choosing, either a staff mediator or an independent mediator who can provide mediation services, being qualified according to Sup. R. 16.

The mediator, on behalf of the parents, shall submit to the Court a report, which summarizes the mediation process, and shall indicate only whether agreement was reached or whether mediation failed. If an agreement was reached, the mediator shall report the content and details of the agreement to counsel or the parties. The Court is not bound by the mediation agreement, and in all cases shall be governed by the best interests of the minor child or children.

The costs of mediation shall be paid by each parent in proportional amounts as shall be determined by the Court, or in such other manner as the Court may direct.


The role of the mediator is to assist the parties in identifying the issues involved, reducing any misunderstanding regarding such issues, clarifying the priorities of the parties in relation to the best interest of the child or children, exploring areas of compromise, and finding points of mutual agreement. While it is imperative to the success of the mediation that the parties fully participate in the mediation process, the process may be terminated upon the decision of the mediator. The mediator shall terminate any mediation in which the parties are abusive, either to each other or to the mediator during the course of the mediation.

Mediator shall make no recommendation to the Court based on either the parties’ statement during the mediation process or any personal evaluation by the mediator of the comparative fitness of the parties as a custodial parent. Statements made during mediation shall be considered inadmissible as evidence pursuant to Evidence Rule 408. Further, no mediator shall be considered as a witness regarding any matter in which he or she has participated as a mediator.

Any mediator providing services for the Court shall utilize procedures that will:

A. Screen for Domestic Violence before and during mediation.

B. Encourage appropriate referrals to legal counsel and other support services for parties to the mediation.

Mediation is often appropriate where there is a change of circumstances of sufficient merit to permit a court to modify the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities.  For practitioners, mediation can help make decision making less contentious and provide an environment conducive to determining the best interests of the child.  In my practice, I have seen successful mediation in matters such as schooling, religious issues, discipline, medical issues, and issues involving a wide range of issues related to the child’s upbringing.  It can also be a less expensive alternative than to litigate these matters in an adversarial proceeding.

Find out more by contacting Jamie L. Anderson at (937) 879-9542 or visit www.OhioDivorceAttorney.com.  Jamie dedicates her practice to helping people make good decisions about their family, their finances and their future.

Child Support Laws Change as Arrearages Rise

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A new law went into effect September 28, 2011 that reduces license suspensions for parents who fall behind on their child support payments. The new law provides that parents who pay at least half of their court-ordered child support will no longer face suspension of their driver’s or professional licenses. Another provision will allow parents to have prior suspensions for failing to pay child support removed from their driving record. Under the new law, county child-support enforcement agencies must look back 90 days to see if a parent has paid less than 50 percent of his child support obligation. If so, the agency sends a pre-suspension notice, giving the parent the opportunity to pay the deficiency. If the parent fails to pay, he or she faces driver’s license suspension. To reinstate the driver’s license, the parent must pay in full or report new employment.

These changes came as a result of the recommendations of a task force and are in conformity with a sentence-reform law that encourages judges to sentence non-payers to community service or probation instead of jail. There are 341 inmates in Ohio prisons for failure to pay child support according to the Ohio Department of Corrections.

The number of incarcerated parents is small compared to overall numbers of parents who have fell behind in their chidl support payments. The Dayton Daily News reported recently that half of Montgomery County’s 59,300 child support cases are in default. Neighboring counties, including Greene, Clark, Warren, Preble, and Miami have default rates ranging from 64 to 82 percent. Ohios overall child support default rate is 70 percent.

Neighboring counties have default rates ranging from 64 to 82 percent. Ohio’s child support default rate is 70 percent.  County and state officials blame the economy, high unemployment and parents’ inability to pay the amounts mandated by the courts for many of the defaults. Officials also cite difficulties establishing proper wage withholding processes with some parents’ employers.

Changes in Child Support Laws Mean Fewer Suspensions

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Band-aides support

Last year over 100,000 parents had their driver’s license suspended for failure to satisfy their child support obligation.  Many advocates suggest that it is an inability to pay not an unwillingness and point to the downturn in Ohio’s economy.  On Wednesday a new law will go into effect allowing parents who pay at least 1/2 (one half) of their child support obligation to avoid a license suspension.  In addition, the law will allow cooperating parents to remove existing license suspensions from their record.

If you face a driver’s license suspension, a driving under suspension charge, or need help with your child support obligation, please contact Brown, Rowland, Babb & Campbell at (937) 318-1384.