What should I bring to the first meeting?
∙ If you have a pending matter, any pleadings that have been filed
∙ If you have a post-decree matter, any relevant current orders
∙ Any correspondence from the other party’s attorney or between you and your spouse, partner, or co-parent
∙ Any other documents you feel are relevant or may be helpful to resolving your legal matter
∙ Any and all questions you have for us

What are your normal business hours?
Our office is open Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. If necessary, we can schedule a conference or telephone call with our attorneys outside of our normal business hours.

When can you take my calls?
During normal business hours, your call will be answered by our office manager Katja. Both Abbie Obenour and Hannah Botkin-Doty also have a voicemail box that allows you to leave a message at any time.

Should I bring my children to the office?
While we understand that there may be times when you may need to bring your children, generally we ask you to make other child care arrangements when you meet with us. This helps to minimize distractions so that you, and we, can focus on your legal concerns. If you are unable to arrange child care, we appreciate it if you will let us know in advance of your appointment that you will be bringing your children.

Is my first visit or consultation free?
Yes, we offer a free half hour consultation to all of our new clients in order to have the chance to get to know one another and see if we are able to help. Unlike other law firms, we would never charge a fee before we knew the facts of your situation and whether or not we could help.

What are your legal fees?
Each attorney has a specific hourly rate, which is available upon request. On some occasions we work for a flat fee, but we normally work off of a retainer provided prior to beginning work on your case. Retainers are set on an individual basis after you have met with Abbie Obenour or Hannah Botkin-Doty and they have evaluated the issues involved in your particular situation.

Can I pay little bits until I have accrued enough for a retainer?
Legal issues are rarely expected and we understand that you will always have other expenses to pay. Occasionally, we will allow clients to make “Step-Up” retainers where clients put down a portion of the retainer to cover initial drafting and court costs and then pay a certain predetermined amount each month. We will need execute additional payment plans and contracts to make sure that everyone is on the same page.

Will I have to go to court?
All legal matters are unique and court appearances depend upon the type of case. If you do have to go to court, we’ll prepare you for what to expect and be at your side the whole time.

Can I bring my kids to court?
While certain cases will require a child to appear in court or before a legal professional, we encourage you to make other child care arrangements and refrain from bringing your child to court. The courthouse is a very busy place and space is limited.

Can you assist me with my will or estate planning?
Yes, we can! In fact, updating an estate plan is an important thing for everyone to do when they go through a divorce or other family transition.

My relative just died and I am the closest relative, but I don’t have time to deal with everything. Now what?
Abbie Obenour and Hannah Botkin-Doty not only do Estate Planning, but we also handle Estate Administration. We can take care of bills, division of assets, notice to other family members and all other matters that are related to Estate Administration in the Probate Court.

Where do I find a Probate Attorney?
We are Probate attorneys and can help you with all matters regarding probate cases.

My hearing is next week and I need help. What do I do?
Please call us as soon as possible to arrange a time for you to come in and for us to review your case and get familiar with the circumstances. We may not be able to be at the hearing because of the late notice, but we can guide you through the process to ask for a continuance from the courts to secure legal representation.

I am a survivor of domestic violence. I can’t afford a lawyer right now.
There are many quality organizations and resources available to survivors. Hannah Botkin-Doty works with the Ohio Domestic Violence Network (http://odvn.org) and the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence (http://oaesv.org). These groups receive grants each year to cover the legal costs of survivors who cannot afford an attorney. Contact them to see what help they can provide.

I just found out we have a Guardian Ad Litem. Now what?
The best thing to do, is to contact the Guardian Ad Litem’s office as soon as possible to set up an initial appointment, and to pay your retainer. Read more about what to do when a GAL has been appointed.

How long does it take for a divorce to be final?
The length of time is significantly affected by how contentious the case is. If you and your spouse are able to come to an agreement about everything including division of debts and assets, parenting time, child support etc. Then an agreement can be filed with the courts 30 days after you file. If you don’t agree on anything or need the assistance of the court to make an order, then you should be prepared to be in the courts for at least a year, sometimes longer. There are often months between court dates, which gives you time to settle out of court.

How long until I have custody over my kids?
This too can take a long while. The only exception is if you file for emergency custody of the children, but this can be very difficult to get because the children need to be in immediate danger of physical harm. Unfortunately the courts are reluctant to grant these orders because they don’t have all of the information from both parents. Also, at least in Franklin County, the preference is Shared Custody and Shared Parenting unless there is a significant issue with the other parent.

Do I have to pay alimony?
Alimony usually comes into play for marriages that last for many years and there is a significant difference in income between the parties. The longer you have been married and the bigger the difference in income, the more likely you are to receive alimony in your divorce. The general rule of thumb for alimony is that you get one year of alimony for every three years of marriage.

What happens if we get back together and want to cancel the divorce?
You can always reconcile at any time up until the date of the final hearing. You will simply need to file a motion to withdraw your complaint for divorce or petition for dissolution and the court will close the case. But remember, if you decide to refile down the road, you will need to disclose that you had a prior case with the courts to the assignment office.

Do I have to move out of the home? Should I not move out of the home?
The court requires that the parties live separate and apart for at least thirty days prior to the final hearing. But until that time, you can stay if you wish. Sometimes moving out takes a significant amount of the emotion and stress out of the case because the opportunity for conflict decreases. If you do decide to move out, be sure to take all of the personal property that belongs to you at that time, you do not want to have to keep coming back and taking things, that only causes drama.

Now, if you want the home to yourself and want the spouse to vacate, you can always file a motion for “beneficial use of the marital property” and ask the court to make an order saying you are the only one allowed to be in the home. Understand this, regardless of who lives in the home while the case is pending, it has no effect on who holds title to the home or who owns it. It will still be included in the division of property and each spouse is entitled to their equitable share of the home’s value.

How do I make sure my spouse is on the birth certificate?
Since the Obergefell decision, if you are married to your spouse at the time of the child’s birth, your spouse should be listed on the birth certificate automatically. But understand that a birth certificate is a record keeping document and DOES NOT establish parentage.

How do I establish parentage for my spouse?
In Ohio, there are two ways, Step Parent (Second Parent) Adoption through the Probate Court or Second Parent Determination through the Juvenile Court. Each of these legal processes will give you a court order signed by a Judge stating that your spouse is the legal parent of the child, even if they didn’t give birth to them. Which path you take depends on how the child was conceived. Click here to read more about the difference between these pathways to parenthood. (insert Second Parent Determination Blog post)

My partner and I were never married, can I still get legal custody of the children we raised?
Yes, you can file for custody in the Juvenile Courts asserting that a relationship exists that needs to be preserved and that it is in the best interest of the child to do so. The court will hear testimony and evidence and likely appoint a Guardian ad Litem to interview the children and then make a decision on custodial rights and responsibilities.

Do we need to make any special estate planning decisions because we are a part of the LGBT Community?
We recommend an estate and emergency plan for everyone but the LGBT community often needs to make their express wishes legally enforceable in order to protect themselves, their partner/spouse and their children. It is essential that there be no question about who makes medical decisions for you, who will be the guardian of yourself or your children if something ever were to happen, and perhaps even more importantly, who is NOT to have that authority. Reach out to us and we can talk through all of the issues and ways to protect you and enforce your wishes.

Can you set up my LLC and operating agreement up for me?
Yes! This is a fairly streamlined process with the Secretary of State. You will need to have a business name that is unique to you and know who you want to be your statutory agent in order to file. An operating agreement is always a good idea, even if it is just a single operator LLC so that you can demonstrate to banks, vendors and other organizations that you have a structure and protocol in place in case of emergency, audit, sale, hiring employees and independent contractors and winding down the business.

Can I just get a form online?
We would never recommend that you go to an online site that will generate your document for you. Unlike the internet’s legal portals, we will write you a customized, legally enforceable document that is up-to-date and in compliance with Ohio law. Many of these sites offer generic recycled legalese that you don’t understand and that Ohio law may not enforce.