Family & Estate FAQ

Family & Estate Frequently Asked Questions

Anna Petronzio, co-founder of Petronzio Schneier Co., LPA, has provided answers to some of the most frequently asked questions received regarding family and estate law. If you cannot find the answers you need, contact Anna to discuss your matter. Anna delivers personalized counsel to help you find a resolution.

I don’t want to be married anymore, what are my options?
There are several options of processes for ending your marriage. You can choose adversarial options, such a filing for a divorce or attempting to work out the terms of your divorce “kitchen table style”. You can choose non-adversarial options, such as mediation or a collaborative process divorce.

How does mediation work?
If you and your spouse are able to work together but need someone to help you meet your goals or facilitate your communication, then mediation might be the answer for you. The mediator is a neutral and cannot represent you in the divorce proceedings but can help you reach resolution in the division of assets and debt, the custody and visitation of your children, agreements for child and spousal support.

How does collaborative divorce work?
Collaborative divorce allows each party to have their own attorney who has been trained in the collaborative process. Initially, the parties sign an agreement where they agree that should they choose to file for divorce their collaborative counsel will not assist them in any court litigation. Collaborative divorce uses neutrals to assist the parties with financial issues, neutrals for business valuations, and coaches for child issues (for both the children and the parties).

How can I choose which option will work best for me?
Which option will work for you will depend on you and your spouse and the circumstances in which you find yourself. We urge you to talk to your attorney about this before you settle on what is the correct choice for you.

Can one attorney represent both me and my spouse?
No, this is a conflict of interest for an attorney as there are too many conflicts for both spouses to have the same legal counsel.

Will I have to go to Court for my divorce?
If you have a collaborative divorce, mediated divorce or a dissolution where you have agreed to all asset and debt division, the issues surrounding your children, child and spousal support then you can use a Private Judge. The answer is you do not have to go to Court, but the Court can come to you. If you choose to litigate, however, you will have to go to court.

What is a dissolution?
Dissolution of marriage is a non-adversarial divorce where you have agreed to all the terms of the divorce before you have filed it with the Court.

What is a separation? A legal separation?
You can file for a legal separation is you want to live separately from your spouse. Legal separations follow the same rules as a divorce which cover items such as spousal support and parenting plans. Remember, however, you are not divorced, which means if you are legally separated you cannot remarry. In order to remarry, you will have to get divorced.

I keep hearing the words “No fault” divorce. What is that?
A “No fault” divorce is where either party can end the marriage on the basis of “living separate and apart for one year without interruption and without cohabitation” and if both parties agree that they are incompatible.

Does Ohio have “no fault” divorce?
Yes, Ohio does. Usually, though, a “no fault” divorce is called a dissolution.

What are the grounds for divorce in Ohio?
Ohio still allows for fault-based divorces. The faults are as follows: adultery; fraudulent inducement to marry; extreme cruelty; gross neglect; habitual drunkenness; imprisonment; and willful absence of more than one year.

What are required for me to file for a divorce in Ohio?
To file for divorce in Ohio you have to be legally married to the person who you want to divorce (of course) and you have to live in the state for at least six months. For a dissolution, you can file if either you or your spouse have lived in Ohio for at least six months.

My spouse lives in another state. Can I still file for divorce in Ohio?
Yes, you can.

Can same sexed couples divorce in Ohio?
Yes, Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court’s decision requires all states to grant the same rights to same-sex and opposite-sex couples.

How are assets and debts divided in a divorce?
Marital property in Ohio gets divided according to the Rules of Equitable Distribution. Now, equitable does not mean equal.

What is considered marital property?
Marital property includes any asset that the spouse acquires during their marriage. Gifts and inheritances are an exception so long as they are traceable to the original inheritance or gift.

What is separate Property?
Assets that are not marital property are considered separate property. Gifts and inheritances are separate property as are assets acquired before the marriage. Income from separate property is considered separate property.

I want the house. Who gets the house?
Who gets to keep the house is a topic that many spouses fight over. So long as the house was acquired during the marriage, it is considered marital property and will be divided equitably. If the parties cannot agree on who gets the house, then the Court may have to decide for you. If there are not enough assets to balance out the one spouse keeping the house, or the spouse cannot refinance the house to give the other spouse their share of the equity of the house then the Court just may order the house to be sold.

Is alimony different than spousal support?

Can I get alimony?
There is a long list of possible factors that are relied upon in determining whether you will get spousal support. Income of the parties, earning potential of the parties and the length of marriage are some of those factors. (Can we make a link to the Ohio factors of spousal support- revised Code?)

Can I get child support?
In order to determine if you will received or pay child support you must compare your incomes, and the cost of providing health insurance for your children and education. Ordinarily, the parent who is considered the main earner will ordinarily be required to pay child support.

Contact Anna M. Petronzio

Anna M. Petronzio, a Cleveland, Ohio collaborative and mediation divorce attorney, co-founded Petronzio Schneier Co., LPA in 1993 after graduating from Catholic University of America (B.A. 1990), Suffolk University Law School (J.D. 1993) and John Carroll University (M.A. 1999). Anna is a member of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar, the Geauga County Bar, the Justinian Form and she practices in Cuyahoga, Geauga and Lake counties. Anna is a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP) and a founding member of the Cleveland Academy of Collaborative Professionals (CACP).

Call: 216-381-3400 x107
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