F. A. Q.

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 attorney 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. Abbie Obenour has 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.

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 and she has 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 not only does Estate Planning, but also handles 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 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.

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.

Do I need an attorney to hire a surrogate in Ohio?
There is no legal requirement that you hire an attorney to assist with your surrogacy or gestational carrier arrangement in Ohio, but it is strongly recommended. Often, the medical providers will insist that an attorney sign off on such an arrangement before they will perform the embryo transfer.

Whether you are the genetic parent, intended parent, gestational carrier, egg donor, or sperm donor, we strongly recommend that you hire counsel to ensure you understand your rights and responsibilities in the donation, surrogacy, or gestational carrier process. A competent attorney can help ensure that your rights are protected and responsibilities limited. Schedule a free half-hour consultation today.

Does my surrogate or gestational carrier need an attorney?

Again, there is no legal requirement that the surrogate or gestational carrier be represented by counsel, but it is strongly recommended. It is customary for both parties to have their own counsel to get legal advice about the contracting process. We have experience representing both intended parents and surrogates/gestational carriers.

Who pays for the medical expenses of a surrogate pregnancy?

Generally speaking, the intended parents are responsible for all costs associated with a surrogate pregnancy, including medical costs. Sometimes the surrogate or gestational carrier will have medical insurance coverage that will pay for some of the medical costs associated with the pregnancy. We can help you figure out whether the surrogate has insurance, and if so, whether that insurance will cover any costs of the surrogate pregnancy.

Can I hire a surrogate or gestational carrier that has Medicaid health insurance?

Maybe. State-funded health insurance in Ohio, which is called Medicaid, Care Source, Buckeye Health Plan, Molina, or other names, cannot pay for medical costs associated with a surrogate pregnancy.
And, depending on the amount of the fee paid to the surrogate, the fee may disqualify the surrogate from state-funded coverage. This can be problematic if there is no other insurance available to the surrogate, or if the surrogate’s own children are covered by a state-funded policy.

What expenses should I expect to pay with a surrogacy?

Generally, the intended parents are responsible for all costs associated with the surrogacy or gestational carrier process. This includes medical costs and legal fees for all parties. It may also include incidental expenses of the surrogate or gestational carrier, including lost wages, transportation, child care, housekeeping, maternity clothing, and other costs.

The parties also sometimes agree that the intended parents will pay a fee to the surrogate or gestational carrier for her services gestating and giving birth to the baby. In some cases, the parties agree that the intended parents will pay the surrogate or gestational carrier additional compensation for particularly invasive medical procedures or the loss of fertility as a result of the pregnancy.

We can help you make an agreement that captures the agreement of all the parties and ensures that everyone’s rights and responsibilities are clear.

What legal services are needed for an Ohio Surrogacy?

In Ohio the legal process associated with surrogacy or employing a gestational carrier include the negotiation and execution of the contract between the parties prior to embryo transfer and, if pregnancy is successful, obtaining a court order establishing the intended parents as the legal parents of the child.

When should I get a parentage order?

We generally recommend that the parties begin the process of obtaining a parentage order at about 28 weeks of gestation, and a little earlier for multiples. This will reduce the risk of scrambling around on legal issues during childbirth or when you are parenting your newborn.

Do I need an attorney to do an adoption in Ohio?

All adoptions of minor children in Ohio must be arranged by either an attorney or a licensed adoption agency. If you are not working with an agency, yes you must hire an attorney to assist with your adoption.

Do I need to go through an adoption agency to adopt a baby?
No, you are not required to use the services of an agency to adopt in Ohio. If you are connected with a birth mother already, there is usually no need to hire an agency. You will be required to hire an attorney though, because Ohio law requires that either an attorney or agency arrange the adoption of a minor child.

Can my stepparent adopt me if I am an adult?

Probably yes. Ohio law allows adoption of an adult by a stepparent if that stepparent-child relationship was formed before the adult turned 18. The adult must consent to the adoption, and if the stepparent is still married to the child’s original parent, that original parent must consent as well. We can help you family ensure that your adoption meets all the statutory requirements – give us a call today.

I have legal custody of my grandchild, niece, or nephew. Can I adopt?

Maybe. Ohio law does allow adoption by a legal custodian or guardian. The consent of the birth parents may, or may not, be required for this type of adoption. If you are interested in making a permanent parent-child relationship, schedule a consultation to learn more.

What expenses should I expect to pay with an adoption?

The costs of adoption vary widely depending on the type of adoption you pursue. With adoptions from foster care, the costs are minimal or non-existent, and you may be eligible to actually receive adoption assistance for the child throughout childhood.

With an adoption from a private agency, you should expect to pay fees to the agency for its services, and that amount can vary widely. There will be fees associated with your home study, supervision of the placement once you have been matched and placed with a child, and medical expenses for the birth mother. You will have attorney fees and court costs associated with finalizing your adoption in the probate court. You may also pay birth mother living expenses, which are limited to $3,000.00 in Ohio.

With a private infant adoption, where no agency is involved, the costs include attorney fees, court costs, the home study fee and post-placement supervision fee, birth mother expenses if applicable, and medical costs.

If you are adopting a child already in your custody, whether through an order of the juvenile court, a probate guardianship, or a stepparent relationship, you should still expect to pay attorney fees, court costs, and fees associated with the home study. The home studies are less rigorous in this context, and therefore usually less expensive than a home study through a private agency or for a private infant adoption.

We can help you budget for this process and brainstorm ideas for financial assistance if needed. Call and schedule a free consultation.

Is there financial assistance available to help with adoption costs?

Yes. At both the federal and state level you may be eligible for a tax credit associated with your adoption. There are also grants and other funding available through several organizations, some of which are listed here: https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/adoption/adoptive/expenses/grants-loans/

If you are adopting a child from foster care, you may be eligible for a monthly adoption subsidy as well.

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