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Alcoholism is a serious and traumatic problem for families, especially those who are going through a divorce and a battle for child custody. As expected, the impact on minor children of living with a parent who abuses alcohol can result in a multitude of negative consequences. From emotional and psychological distress to unattachment with a parent, alcoholism can have a huge impact on the outcome of a custody case. However, for the alcoholic parent who is in recovery, following a treatment plan, and taking care of his or her mental and physical health, a history of alcoholism does not have to mean that the recovering alcoholic parent can’t have custody of a child. The court’s goal is always to put the child’s emotional, psychological and physical wellbeing first; but most courts also view the right of the child to be parented by both of his or her parents as also being in a child’s best interests. This theme applies to addiction to other substances and mental health disorders as well. Bobbie Corley O’Keefe has worked with many clients who have substance use disorders and other mental health issues. As long as a parent is committed to and can show success on the road to recovery, he or she should be allowed to be an integral and often equal part of their children’s lives.
"For many, January is a life changing month. People who are unhappy in their marriages often wait until the holidays are over to move forward with a dissolution or divorce, and statistically, divorces spike up as these people think of starting off a new year fresh, and becoming physically, mentally and spiritually independent and stronger. Domestic lawyers often see significant upticks in their caseloads during this time. Sometimes, those people who meet with a domestic lawyer may not be ready to take any definitive action, or they may actually want to work on their marriages armed with information about what could happen if the marriage doesn’t work out. If you or someone you know is ready to act on those feelings or just get an education about the process, I am more than happy to speak with you or them at a mutually convenient time. If someone is on the fence, in extremely rare circumstances do I feel it is my duty to encourage them to end their marriage. Instead, for the majority of people who come to see me, my job is to inform and educate about the processes, costs and options."
"One of the many reasons people delay their divorces is because they do not know where to start, nor are they educated on what happens once they do start. In the article above, there are some very helpful tips if you do not know where to begin. Many people underestimate the extra stress and discomfort divorces can bring and, therefore, they are not prepared. The part of my job I love the most is to inform and educate about the processes, costs and options. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you are confused or worried."
""Gray” divorces have been more prevalent than ever. A gray divorce is the term often used for divorces that happen later in life. I have seen a significant increase in the number of older clients who consult me about a divorce, after having been married for 30 or more years, or seeking to end a second or third marriage. Gray divorces can present many complicated issues, such as the division of retirement accounts, investment assets, real estate, and the potential impact on public benefits such as Medicare. Divorcing after one or both parties has retired can create even bigger concerns, not the least of which is supporting oneself on a more limited income. If you are older and are contemplating terminating your marriage, it is always wise to discuss your circumstances with an attorney who handles this type of case. Having answers to your questions makes this big life change much less daunting."
Please do not hesitate to reach out if you are confused or have any questions. We are here to help."
"Co Parenting can be difficult enough under the best of circumstances, but at times like these, when we are “sheltering in place” or quarantining ourselves either voluntarily or involuntarily, meeting the obligations of our coparenting agreements and assuring that both parents continue to have time with each child, coordinating parenting time can be much harder. It will be interesting to see how many contempt actions will be filed once the dust settles and either parent has not been able to exercise his or her parenting time. I think the courts will look closely at whether the parents are working cooperatively and flexibly with each other to maintain parenting time orders, and that neither parent is using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to withhold a child from the other parent. Most importantly, if you have any questions or are in doubt, contact your attorney. My office remains open, as do all the other family law attorney offices I know. Stay healthy out there!"
"As the Corona Virus (COVID-19) continues to grow, not only does this affect businesses, communities, schools, the courts, and other important organizations, the most important concern is for our family and loved ones. With difficult times like now, it is still critical to remember that the best interests of children should be placed front and center. Under these circumstances, communication is more important than ever. Sometimes parents feel that communication (or the lack thereof) is a way to assert power or control over the other parent. However, at this critical period, those tactics should be set aside. Each parent needs to know many more details about the daily activities, contacts and any symptoms of illness of their children. It is essential that parents be on the same page and communicating with one another as this pandemic carries on. Your child’s life - literally - depends on it.
I hope everyone is staying safe and enjoying their extra time with their families and loved ones."
"Since the rise of the Corona Virus, many people remain stuck in an abusive environment with people they fear. Perhaps some were ready to make a move just before the pandemic hit, but with the pressures of quarantining, job layoffs, and other challenges never faced before, they now feel literally trapped in a household with their abuser. Fortunately, many shelters remain open and are still taking new clients. In addition, most therapists are available to counsel through the telephone or on video conferencing platforms. Escaping from an abusive relationship can be scary, and may seem impossible; however there is always a way. Even though the rest of your community is inaccessible right now, services for victims of domestic violence are open and ready to help.
As we are now in the month of April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness month, I want to let my friends, family and colleagues know that I am always available to talk. I do not take domestic violence lightly. I have taken many additional trainings on domestic violence issues, and in my work I know that domestic violence does not just occur to women. It is a problem for people of all ages, genders, gender identities and gender expressions."
"One of the most common questions parents ask when wanting to divorce is when and how to start the process. As with most things related to law, the answer is, “It depends.” There is no perfect time to terminate your marriage. If there is physical or drug abuse, and you feel unsafe, it is recommended that up seek help right away. Many parents are concerned about the impact on the children. Others are more concerned about the financial ramifications. At the end of the day, the choice for a divorce is a personal one and all considerations should be taken into account, after consultation with an experienced lawyer and, possibly insofar as children are concerned, a qualified mental health professional.
As an attorney who has been practicing family law for more than 20 years, I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss your particular needs."
"As the holidays are approaching, spending time with family is important. Unfortunately, there still is no cure for COVID-19. Families where the parents are divorced are forced to spend that valuable time split up. Parents who choose to have Joint Custody over their children typically alternate the holidays with their children, meaning some parents will spend some holidays without their children. Like all parents, they want to be present for every holiday their children experience. But, this is the sacrifice parents have to make when choosing to go through a divorce. Although it is not what parents want, it is important to remember to always put the children first."
"With COVID-19 still prevalent, and in many communities the numbers are continuing to increase, parents living separately with children are still learning how to coparent. Uncertainty brings, which can lead parents to focus on their own concerns rather than their child's best interest. Many parents have different parenting ideas and often argue about whose parenting style is “best”. Topics such as going back to in-person classes, going out to restaurants, traveling, etc. can easily upset the other parent if they do not have a complete understanding of each other's expectations. However, during these anxious times, conversations often devolve into arguments. Effective communication with one other can help solve many problems. Parents who listen and respect each other are more likely to compromise and be happier with situations than if they completely ignore each other. At the end of the day, as an attorney, I understand how frustrating and complicated it can be to talk with a partner who does not agree. However, parents must always remember to put their child first. Not only is that best for the child, it’s also something the court will consider when making parenting decisions."
"As the new year is in full swing, COVID-19 is as prevalent as ever. Families are still trying to adjust to COVID-19 and its new protocols. At the same time, there is an increase in the number of divorces. However, like the many new changes to our everyday life, there are many new changes to the process of divorce. For example, many courts have reduced the number of in-court hearings; therefore, there can be long delays with seeing a judge or magistrate. Trials can take longer, and the presentation of evidence can be more complicated as the system adjusts to the use of electronic tools instead of paper copies. Likewise, some feel that video conferencing does not fully serve everyone in a trial. A person’s body language and non-verbal cues may not be on full display to the decision-maker when the person is being viewed on a monitor or video screen. The parties and court reporter and judge or magistrate may not fully understand each other if there are technical difficulties with the sound. Whatever the obstacle, the court fully recognizes that health and safety does come first. As it does so, parties and their counsel are being given the perfect opportunities to work harder toward settlement without trial. Anecdotally, trials often create more conflict for splitting families, especially for the children. Why not use the COVID delays in divorce courts as a chance to reach mutual agreements, which serves two purposes: 1) Likely being done faster; and 2) Likely being done with less hostility, resentment and ongoing conflict."
"In most cases, custody of children after divorce or separation is resolved during the separation or divorce proceedings. Either by agreement or court decision, a parenting plan is put into place to outline the type of custody and parenting/companionship time, along with many other topics. In order for an agreement to be modified quickly and easily, often both parents must agree to the modifications. If the parents cannot agree, the process is much more complicated and takes longer. Determining custody and parenting/companionship time by the court is complex and takes into account many factors. The most important consideration is the child’s best interests. Ohio law addresses factors which must be addressed, such as mental & physical health of the parents and child, interactions between the parents and the child, the geographic proximity between the parents, and more. Because of the complexity of custody cases, seeking the advice of a child custody attorney is always a good idea."
- Healthy divorce: How to make your split as smooth as possible (apa.org)
"Splitting up, especially with children, is never an easy thing to do. However, it is possible to do so without explosive arguments, difficult scenes and blame. There are several options available to those who are terminating their relationships. Mediation is one such option. There are many highly skilled divorce mediators across the country, and many of them are lawyers who used to litigate cases. A mediator, even if a lawyer, is not allowed to “represent” either one of the parents; therefore, having a lawyer advise you when going into a mediation session makes good sense. If you are contemplating a divorce, or a breakup involving joint property and children, consult with an attorney who is knowledgeable and supportive of various types of alternative dispute resolution. Doing so could help your pocketbook and your feelings."
"When a parent who is sharing child custody with another parent decides to move, it can cause a lot of difficulty for not only the parents, but also for the child. Depending on where the other parent is relocating, child custody agreements would probably have to be changed. It is most often in the child’s best interests for the parents to agree in advance on a new parenting time schedule and where the child will go to school. Parents also have to keep in mind the effects long distance travel might have on a child. Making a child grow up in two different cities can be tough for a kid, especially if they are young. If a parent decides to move, they need to make sure they are thinking long term and whether that is the best choice for their child. And if the parents cannot reach an agreement in advance, a motion to relocate and modify the parenting arrangements will have to be made in court. The parent who wants to move should also keep in mind that these kinds of cases often take a very long time to move through the contested court docket. It’s best to talk to an experienced family lawyer before making any hasty decisions."
"COVID-19 continues to disrupt child custody cases all around the country. Parents who co parent their children and share custody are facing new challenges every day. From social distancing to working from home to schooling at home, COVID-19 is still deeply affecting families. During this time, parents are concerned of the risks from COVID-19 and may ask for a temporary modification of their shared parenting time. Typically, the judge will sign off on changes if both parties can come to an agreement. Due to the uncertainty of this pandemic, it is important to always put the child's best interest first. This means putting the child in the safest environment and thinking of safe, creative ways to make sure the child has quality time with both parents. Experienced family law attorneys have become well versed in dealing with COVID-19 issues. Therefore, when in doubt, reach out to a family law attorney for guidance and suggestions."