Cincinnati Divorce Attorney Zachary Smith



Parent Teacher Conferences After Divorce

Parent Teacher Conferences After Divorce
Fall is upon us and parent teacher conferences are right around the corner. If this is your first conference after the divorce, or if you didn’t find your last experience satisfying, now is the time to start thinking about how you and your ex will handle parent teacher conferences. Here are some approaches to consider.

Set Ground Rules

You know your past communication patterns with your ex. Consider these when planning how you will approach parent teacher conferences.

Joint Conferences

In the best world, both of you will attend the conference together. The focus will remain on the child, the child’s progress in school, and any concerns the teacher may have about your child. Attending conferences together sends a message to both the teacher and the child that you present a unified front when it comes to the child.

One Parent Conferences

It is not uncommon for one parent to value conferences more than the other. In this case, it might make sense for only one parent to attend conferences. Of course, the information gleaned from the meeting should be passed on to the other parent.

Put Technology to Good Use

If you are both interested in attending conferences, but just can’t be in the same room, consider the benefits of technology. Having one parent attend the conferences in person, while the other is on cell phone, Skype, or some other communication may be a good fit for some parents.

Conferences with Both Parents Separately

Some schools (and some teachers) are willing and able to handle meeting with each parent separately. This requires additional time and not all schools will accommodate this. If this seems like the best option for you, it is a good idea to contact the school ahead of time to make sure they are willing to follow this approach.
Of course, if there is a restraining order or no contact order, joint conferences are usually not an option, unless an exception for this has been carved out within the order. In this case, make sure the school knows about the order when requesting separate conferences.

Follow Up

Whether the conference is attended by one or both parents, it is a good idea to set aside some time to discuss what you both learned about your child, their progress, and their needs going forward.

Having an experienced divorce attorney in Cincinnati on your side during a divorce can assist you in navigating the waters of co-parenting after divorce. For further information or to schedule a consultation, contact the law office of Zachary D. Smith, LLC at (513) 275-1164 or visit

Posted in divorce lawyers in cincinnati Tagged with: ,

Why You Should Consider a Legal Separation

Legal Separation
Not all couples live happily ever after. However, just because a couple decides not to continue living together does not necessarily mean a divorce is imminent. In fact, there can be advantages to long term separation for some couples.

Financial Benefits to Remaining Married

Many married couples enjoy the benefit of health insurance from one party’s employer. Divorce almost always ends the health insurance benefit for the spouse. Remaining legally married may extend coverage for the spouse as well as the children of the marriage.

Pension benefits and social security benefits tend to increase over time. Extending the length of the marriage may provide an advantage later, by allowing the benefits to maximize.

Delaying divorce finalization may also be in the parties’ best interests when real estate is involved. The family home is typically a couple’s biggest asset. If the real estate market is in a slump, the parties may benefit by delaying the completion of the divorce and the sale of the home until the market is more favorable. Additionally, retaining the family home allows for the children to remain in a place that is familiar during a time of upheaval.

Non-Financial Benefits of Long Term Separation

Some couples believe remaining married is easier on their children. Others feel there are social benefits to remaining legally married. Some couples remain married for religious or cultural reasons. Finally, some couples separate but are uncertain whether divorce is right for them. A legal separation allows the parties to define roles and obligations of each, while keeping the marriage intact.

Why You Should Consider Hiring a Lawyer to Assist in Separation

A separation occurs when the parties decide to either not live together any longer, or to live their own separate lives under the same roof. A legal separation, on the other hand, protects the parties by entering into a legal and binding contract. This contract addresses the same sorts of issues a divorce filing addresses, including custody of the children, any child support obligations, and the like.

For further information or schedule a consultation with attorney Zachary D. Smith, LLC to discuss the benefits a legal separation might have for you and your family please call (513) 275-1164 or visit toady.

Posted in Legal Separation Tagged with: ,

Why Choosing Dissolution of Marriage Might be the Best Solution

Dissolution of Marriage

No one gets married planning to divorce. However, divorce is the natural end to many marriages. If you are thinking about a divorce, you may be wondering if divorce is right for you. There are a number of situations where a divorce may be the best choice. Below are a few of them.

When you no longer recognize yourself

Every couple changes during the course of a relationship – both together and separately. However, sometimes, one partner to the marriage may find over time they have changed so significantly they no longer recognize themselves. Typically, these changes occur incrementally. However, there can be a cumulative effect wherein one person looks up and realizes they no longer recognize who they are.

When you are no longer happy

Another indication divorce may be the best choice, is when you find yourself being unhappy far more frequently then when you find yourself being happy. No one is happy all the time. However, when you find you spend more of your life feeling miserable then you spend feeling happy, or even okay about your situation, divorce may be the best choice. Other indicators of your unhappiness may include you find yourself dreading the sound of your spouse’s key in the door. Perhaps you find yourself looking forward to business trips away. Perhaps you engage in fantasies about their demise, due to sickness or an accident. These are all clues you should consider significant changes.

For the children

Traditionally, it was believed divorce was bad for children. However, new studies have established children thrive when their environments are filled with love and happiness. Many couples live stressful lives prior to a divorce. The stress is naturally passed on to the children. Rather than subjecting children to the strife that comes with couples that are extremely unhappy with each other, divorce may be a better outcome.

Modeling appropriate behavior

It is important that you model healthy and appropriate behavior for your children. This includes being in relationships that are happy and thriving, and leaving relationships which are negative, or maybe dragging you down. Taking care of yourself teaches your children to take care of themselves.

You find yourself reading blogs on divorce

If you’re reading this it’s possible that you are considering filing for divorce, or perhaps your spouse has already filed for divorce. You find yourself spending time on the Internet looking for reasons why divorce maybe appropriate. If you think divorce is appropriate to the extent you are seeking confirmation, that maybe all you need to know.

If you are considering divorce, you need a qualified< a href=""> dissolution attorney in Cincinnati such as Zachary D. Smith, LLC. Zachary D. Smith is highly experienced and trained family law mediator who rest assured will represent you in the best possible way for a successful outcome. For further information or to schedule a consultation please contact Zachary D. Smith at (513) 275-1164 or visit

Posted in dissolution attorney cincinnati Tagged with: ,

How to Address the Division of Marital Property

The Division of Marital Property

Methods of dividing property

There are three ways property can be divided during a divorce case:

  • The parties can agree to the division of property;
  • The attorneys for the parties can negotiate a settlement; or
  • A judge can decide which property is granted to each party to the divorce.

Identifying marital and non-marital property

The first step to dividing marital property is identifying which property is “marital property.” As a general rule, marital property is property acquired during the marriage. So, for example, if one party enters the marriage with full ownership rights to their great-grandmothers china, the china is considered non-marital property and remains with the original owner. If the parties purchase a home during the course of the marriage, this is likely considered marital property. Of course, there are legal exceptions.

As a starting point, make a list of all property, indicating whether you believe it is marital or non-marital. The list includes everything you both own, including the following:

  • The family home;
  • Any vacation homes (don’t forget the timeshare!);
  • Stocks;
  • Bonds;
  • Retirement accounts;
  • Savings accounts;
  • Money market accounts;
  • Cars; and
  • household items.

It is a good idea to maintain a list, some couples prefer a spreadsheet, identifying all household items and other items of property.

Dividing the small stuff

As almost overwhelming as it may feel, start in a single room. Identify every object in the room including the artwork, furniture, items in drawers, etc. At the completion of the house, the list will include such mundane items as dishes, towels, and sheets, etc. as well as valuable art, rugs, and family photos. Each item must be identified and divided between the divorcing couple. Even if you find you can’t agree on everything, it is a good idea to start by agreeing on the things that make the most sense to you as a couple. For example, if one party is going to stay in the family home, it might make sense for the party to also retain the lion share of furniture. On the other hand, the party may wish to start fresh and would prefer new furniture for their new life.

There’s no right way to divide marital property. Some couples preferred to divide marital property using a round-robin system where each party takes a turn claiming various pieces of property. Other parties preferred to attempt an equal distribution of property by assigning a monetary value to each item and then “going shopping.” Still other couples find it is easy to identify and divide certain property, while finding other property more challenging to divide. In this situation, it is best to identify and divide as much property as possible – leaving the rest to the lawyers to attempt to negotiate. Any property which cannot be negotiated may be subject to a judicial determination.

Divorce lawyers generally agreed the worst approach to dividing property is to leave it to the courts. In no situation does each party get exactly what they want, however leaving the decisions to the judge can almost certainly guarantee a disastrous apportionment of property.

If you are considering divorce

If you are considering a divorce, contact the highly reputable and experienced divorce attorney in Cincinnati, Zachary D. Smith, LLC. Zachary D. Smith has the experience needed for a successful outcome. Contact us today to discuss your case at (513) 275-1164 or for further information please visit

Posted in divorce attorney Cincinnati Tagged with: ,

Divorce Planning: A Basic Checklist

Divorce Attorney in Cincinnati
If you are planning a divorce, your divorce attorney needs certain information to assist you in the process. While each case is different, the most common documents are briefly discussed below. These are documents your divorce attorney should have at or prior to your first meeting.

Prenuptial Agreements

Prenuptial agreements, also referred to as premarital agreements, can dictate child custody arrangements, division of property, and other matters. Whether or not the prenuptial agreement is valid requires legal analysis. If you have a prenuptial agreement, or you think you might have something that constitutes a prenuptial agreement, be sure to provide a copy of this to your family law attorney as early as practicable.

Court Documents

If you or your spouse has filed for a civil protection order, a restraining order, a harassment order, or criminal charges have been filed, plan to provide a copy of any documents relating to this. This includes any temporary orders. These documents may be relevant regardless of whether the court granted the request. Consequently, your lawyer should be made aware of this part of your relationship.

A List of Assets

“Assets” are items of property that have value. Obviously, your home and your cars have value. Similarly, the contents of your home have value. From Great Grandma Esther’s china to the tools in the garage, each item has some financial value. Some may also have sentimental value, which your lawyer should also be aware of, but in listing assets, try to keep dollar amounts realistic.

Additional assets include your savings accounts, stocks, bonds, and any ownership interest you may have in a business. Also consider retirement accounts including deferred compensation accounts, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, and IRAs.

Marital Assets vs. Non-Marital Assets

While making the list, take the time to note how and when items were acquired. The difference between marital and non-marital assets is the basis for an article of its own in the coming weeks. Suffice it to say, whether property is legally subject to the divorce is based in large part on whether the property was acquired as marital property or non-marital property.

Documentation in Support of Child Support or Alimony Payments

To determine the appropriate amount of child support or alimony, the following documents are helpful:

  • Personal tax returns;
  • Business tax returns;
  • 1099s;
  • Pay stubs;
  • W-2s; and
  • Bank statements.

The family budget can also provide your lawyer with insight about regular expenses.

A List of All Debts

Finally, all debts should be detailed. This includes debts in the names of both parties, as well as debts in the name of either party individually.
Divorce requires considerable planning. Having an experienced and highly reputable divorce attorney in Cincinnati can assist you by navigating successfully through a divorce. To schedule a consultation please contact the law office of Zachary D. Smith, LLC at (513)275-1164 or visit for further information.

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged with: ,

Developing a Long-Distance Parenting Plan

Family Law Attorney Cincinnati

Parenting is one of the most rewarding, and toughest jobs. Long distance parenting presents additional challenges. Developing a long-distance parenting plan is critical to maintaining a relationship with your children when one parent lives far away. Sometimes, the distance is anticipated in the divorce decree. Other times, a change in circumstances, such as a new job or family demands, leads to a move after the divorce.

Essentials to Long Distance Parenting Plans

Anticipating Variables

There are several keys to a successful parenting plan when distance separates families. First, parenting plans should be as detailed as possible. Misunderstandings are minimized when contingencies and alternate circumstances are anticipated and dealt with in advance. While many parents maneuver the challenges of long distance parenting without ever relying on the details of the written parenting plan, having the written plan in place is additional insurance which provides guidance and helps avoid conflict.

Monthly Visitation Options

In this day and age, creative parenting plans can account for distances in ways prior generations never considered. Monthly visits may occur at the child’s location, the parent’s location, a mutually agreed upon neutral location between the two, or at another agreed upon location, such as at a grandparent’s house. Additional time between parent and child, including video conferencing, email contact, and text messaging, in addition to a schedule of phone calls should be a regular part of a child’s visitation.

Travel Plans

In all cases, but particularly for families visiting over long distances, travel plans are an essential part of any parenting plan. Topics include the following:

  • Which parent is responsible for making travel arrangements;
  • Whether the child is old enough to travel alone;
  • Appropriate options for travel – including train, bus, and air, as well as by car;
  • What are acceptable “arrival locations” (for example, if the child is traveling to Southern California, are San Diego, Santa Ana, and Los Angeles all acceptable? Two of the three? Only one?)
  • The party paying for the travel; and
  • Contingency plans should weather impact travel.

If you need a long-distance parenting plan, either as part of your divorce planning, or post-divorce, Zachary D. Smith, LLC, leading divorce attorney in Cincinnati offers insight and experience to serve you and your family for a successful outcome. To schedule a consultation please contact Zachary D. Smith, LLC at (513)275-1164 or visit for further information.

Posted in Cincinnati Tagged with: ,

Understanding Prenuptial Agreements

Prenuptial Agreements

Prenuptial agreements (sometimes referred to as a “prenup” or a premarital agreement) may be one of the most misunderstood concepts in family law. A prenuptial agreement is a legally binding contract between two parties—entered into before a marriage—defining the intentions of the parties regarding division of property, debts, and responsibilities in the event of divorce or death of one of the parties.

Prenuptial Agreements and Divorce

Many people think discussing and planning for the possibility of a divorce before marriage is bound to doom the marriage. However, discussing assets and debts before the marriage may actually strengthen the relationship. This discussion forces couples to consider both their own views, and their partner’s views about money, property, and other tangible assets. Additionally, prenuptial agreements address what happens in the event of the death of one of the parties. Any marriage which doesn’t end in divorce will, eventually, end in death. Prenuptial agreements protect the parties and their wishes.

Who Needs a Prenuptial Agreement

Some people think prenuptial agreements are only for the very wealthy. While it is a good idea for very wealthy people to have prenuptial agreements, many others would also benefit from such agreements. People who should consider a prenuptial agreement include:

  • Business owners;
  • Property owners;
  • People with more than $50,000 in assets;
  • People who have retirement benefits, stock options, profit sharing, and/or deferred compensation accounts from their employer;
  • Those who make (or who are expected to make) over $70,000 per year;
  • Those who wish to pass on certain property or assets, such as a treasured family heirloom, to someone other than their spouse.

Prenuptial Agreements and Adult Children

More people are marrying for a second time. Many of those couples have adult children. A prenuptial agreement allows couples to identify and agree upon property and assets which will go to the adult children. Without a prenuptial agreement, and in the absence of a will, ordinary rights of inheritance may result in the property going to the spouse, rather than the adult children.

Prenuptial Agreements and Family Businesses

When a family owns a business, a prenuptial agreement can clearly delineate what will happen to the business in the event of divorce or death of the party. A prenuptial agreement provides families peace of mind, because it can remove the family business from divorce negotiations, should the parties later divorce. Additionally, in the case of death, the prenuptial agreement can dictate such terms as whether the spouse becomes part owner of the business, the adult children of the deceased become owners of the shares, whether the family business simply belongs to the remaining family members, or some other scenario.

Reasons to Discuss a Prenuptial Agreement

If you are getting married, it is a good idea to meet with a qualified family law attorney in Cincinnati to discuss your prenuptial agreement needs. Zachary D. Smith dedicates his practice to family law issues. A problem solver who thinks outside the box and will help you set the legal foundation of your marriage the right way. For further information or to schedule an appointment please contact Zachary D. Smith, LLC at (513) 275-1164 or visit

Posted in Prenuptial Agreements Tagged with: ,

Stepparent Adoption: Hamilton County, Ohio Rules

Stepparent Adoption in Hamilton County, Ohio


Stepparent adoption in the State of Ohio is an easy, yet time consuming process. Adoption by a stepparent is governed under statute 3107.03 of the Ohio Revised Code. Under 3107.03, the following persons may adopt:

  1. A husband and wife together, at least one of whom is an adult;
  2. An unmarried adult;
  3. The unmarried minor parent of the person to be adopted;
  4. A married adult without the other spouse joining as a petitioner if any of the following apply:
    1. The other spouse is a parent of the person to be adopted and supports the adoption;
    2. The petition and the other spouse are separated […];
    3. The failure of the other spouse to join in the petition or to support the adoption is found by the court to be by reason of prolonged unexplained absence, unavailability, incapacity, or circumstances that make it impossible or unreasonably difficult to obtain either the spouse or refusal of the other spouse.

In the case In re Adoption of Deems, the court held when it is in the best interest of the child, an adoption by a stepparent will be granted. (Ohio App. 3 Dist., 11-12-1993) 91 Ohio App.3d 552. This means that when seeking a step-parent adoption, you will want to ensure you put forward all information to help the magistrate find you as the most suitable parent for your stepchild.

The court will use evidence of a loving and stable environment to make a best interest determination. Id. The children in Deems expressed to the court that parenting time with the father was confusing and disconcerting, while further expressing a desire to terminate their relationship with their natural father in order to be raised by their stepfather. Id. The court in In re Adoption of Cline, held that the child’s best interest was not against manifest weight of the evidence. (Trumball 1993) 89 Ohio App.3d 450. The court in Cline used evidence that the child considered the stepfather to be her father and the stepfather’s interactions with the child provided a healthy, stable home. Id.

The court may grant the termination of the natural parent’s rights and adoption by the stepparent if evidence exists that the child views the stepparent as a parent. Likewise, the court may grant adoption to a stepparent where it is in the best interest of the child by proof that the stepparent provides a healthy, stable home which the child lacks from the natural parent.

In proceeding with a stepparent adoption, the moving party must find the rules in their county to ensure all steps have been adequately achieved. We will look specifically at the rules for Hamilton County.

In order to begin an adoption proceeding, a Petition for Adoption and a certified copy of the stepchild’s birth certificate must be filed with the Hamilton County Probate Court. The petition is used to identify the proposed parent, the child to be adopted, and to explain the circumstances surrounding the relationship between the parties. The state requires that the child must be in the home for six months prior to the finalization of the adoption. Generally, the six-month period begins on the date of the stepparent’s marriage to the natural parent.

In order for the court to approve a petition, a home study must be completed at the moving party’s expense. The Hamilton County Probate Court has a list of approved agencies who can complete an adoption home study. The petitioner is free to choose the agency they wish, as long as they are on the list provided by the court.  The home study is used to determine the suitability of the home and includes psychological, social, criminal, medical, and financial assessments. The findings of the home study will be provided to the court by the agency once the full investigation is complete. The court can only make a determination in the case after they have received the findings from the home study. Since the home study can take up to 90 days to complete, it is best to start the process as soon as possible.

The state of Ohio requires any child over the age of 12 to consent to the adoption by signing a consent to adopt form which can be found in the adoption petition. Once all of the forms in the Petition for Adoption have been completed, the petition should present them to the magistrate’s assistant at the information desk on the 9th Floor of the Probate Court. At that time, a magistrate will be assigned to the case. The forms will be taken to an available magistrate for review and to set a hearing date.

Once a hearing date is set, the petition will be instructed to take the forms to the cashier for payment of fees and to receive a case number. The cashier will stamp the forms with the appropriate case number and return any forms that will be needed at the hearing. On the day of the hearing, both the adult seeking to adopt and the child to be adopted must appear before the assigned magistrate. The magistrate will then conduct the hearing and, if they determine the petition should be granted, will enter an order of adoption.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the clerk will complete a Vital Statistics – Certificate of Adoption and send it to the Ohio Bureau of Vital Statistics. The petitioner should then request a new birth certificate (in writing) with the required payment 30 days from the date of finalization of the adoption. The child’s new birth certificate should arrive within four months.

Zachary D. Smith, LLC, leading family law attorney in Cincinnati can assist you in obtaining a stepparent adoption in Cincinnati, Ohio. For more information or to schedule a consultation please contact the law office of Zachary D. Smith, LLC at (513) 275-1164 or visit

Posted in Stepparent Adoption Tagged with: ,

Computing High Income Child Support

high income child supportIn order to determine the amount of child support one parent must pay to another, Ohio courts utilize a formula to ensure both parents are providing for any minor children. The formula computes a worksheet for child support and the court merely applies the computed results to the individual case. However, not all earners are covered by the worksheet, those parents whose combined earnings are less than $6,600 per year or more than $150,000 per year must utilize other methods to find an equitable support amount.

The legislature enacted Ohio Revised Code §3119.04 to deal with this very issue. The statute provides that the courts must review the child support amount on a case-by-case basis when the combined income falls outside of the worksheet amounts. This means the court does not have to follow the guidelines of the child support worksheet exactly. Instead, the court will consider the needs and standard of living for the children and for each parent and use that information to determine the appropriate amount of monetary support the child or children require.

In considering the standard of living for the child or children, the court may look to a number of factors, including: any special health care or related services; physical and emotional needs of the child; educational and extracurricular needs of the child; the lifestyle the child was accustomed to during the marriage or relationship of the parties; and any other factor the court determines to be relevant. The court must ensure that the amount is not inappropriately low. To make this determination, the court should not award an obligation lower than that of the $150,000 level. However, if the court finds that the amount should be lower, it must explain to the parties in the final decision why the obligation was set below the guideline. Likewise, a court should put forth reasoning behind a large support amount.

To see R.C. 3119.04 in action, we turn to Lanham v. Mierzwiak:

{¶ 14} In his first assignment of error, Mierzwiak contends:

{¶ 15} “It was reversible error for the trial court to utilize the extrapolation method to calculate child support, without considering the qualitative needs and standard of living of the child and parents.”

{¶ 16} A trial court is vested with broad discretion in deciding child-support matters and will be reversed only upon a finding that the trial court abused its discretion. Dunbar v. Dunbar (1994), 68 Ohio St.3d 369, 371, 627 N.E.2d 532, citing Booth v. Booth (1989), 44 Ohio St.3d 142, 144, 541 N.E.2d 1028; Kendall v. Kendall, 6th Dist. No. OT–04–004, 2005-Ohio-1777, 2005 WL 859447, ¶ 8. An abuse of discretion connotes that the court’s attitude is “unreasonable, arbitrary or unconscionable and not merely an error of law or judgment.” Kunkle v. Kunkle (1990), 51 Ohio St.3d 64, 67, 554 N.E.2d 83, citing Blakemore v. Blakemore (1983), 5 Ohio St.3d 217, 219, 450 N.E.2d 1140. “Where a judgment is supported by some competent, credible evidence, there is no abuse of discretion.” Barone v. Barone, 6th Dist. No. L–07–1336, 2008-Ohio-5793, 2008 WL 4823343, ¶ 15, citing Van Vorce v. Van Vorce, 3d Dist. No. 2–04–11, 2004-Ohio-5646, 2004 WL 2377839, ¶ 15.

{¶ 17} In his first assignment of error, Mierzwiak argues that it was reversible error for the trial court to use the **1259 extrapolation method to calculate his modified child-support obligation under R.C. 3119.04(B), “without considering the qualitative needs and standard of living of the child and parents… {¶ 19} Our analysis of the trial court’s judgment that adopted the magistrate’s decision begins with R.C. 3119.04(B)[.]…

{¶ 21} We have construed this provision to mean that the trial court must “‘(1) set the child support amount based on the qualitative needs and standard of living of the children and parents; (2) ensure that the amount set is not less than the *431 $150,000–equivalent, unless awarding the $150,000–equivalent would be inappropriate (i.e. would be too much); and (3) if it decides the $150,000–equivalent is inappropriate or unjust (i.e. awards less), then journalize the justification for that decision.’” […]

{¶ 22} In fact, this court has specifically stated, “‘“Nothing in the new version of the statute, however, prohibits the court from using [extrapolation] to determine the amount of support due in high income cases; it merely no longer mandates that the court use this method. Moreover, the statute does not require any explanation of its decision unless it awards less than the **1260 amount awarded for combined incomes of $150,000. [A] trial court [does not err] therefore, if it used the extrapolation method to determine the amount of child support due.”’” […]

{¶ 23} Applying existing case law to Mierzwiak’s assignment of error, we conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in making the child-support award. Because the amount set is not less than the $150,000 equivalent, the trial court was not required to make any findings. […] Rather, the trial court was required only to “consider the needs and the standard of living of the children who are the subject of the child support order and of the parents.” R.C. 3119.04(B).

{¶ 24} Lanham is a registered nurse and massage therapist. She is currently employed by St. Vincent Medical Center, Mercy Home Care, and Northwest Ohio Emergency Services. In regard to her needs and standard of living, the court considered that Lanham must work 80 hours per week in order to maintain a level of income to provide for her daughter’s basic needs. […]

{¶ 37} The trial court also considered that Lanham had refinanced her home twice and that she wished to reduce her working hours but would not be able to provide the basic needs of her child if she reduced her hours. Lanham also testified that she has had to use the equity in her home to meet her monthly expenses.

{¶ 38} Mierzwiak is a physician employed by Omni Health Services Limited, a partnership, and Omni Administrative Service Corporation. Mierzwiak is paid an hourly wage by Omni Health Services and also received bonus payments from Omni Administrative Services. As to his needs and standard of living, Mierzwiak testified that his corporation took on additional partners so that he would not have to work more than 60 hours per week. Despite this, Mierzwiak’s annual income has increased from $315,000 in 2003 to $545,829 in 2009. Mierzwiak also testified that this **1261 new child-support payment causes a financial hardship. In support of this, Mierzwiak testified that he spends approximately $3,500 per month paying for the college educational expenses of his three older children. At the time of the hearing, however, Mierzwiak had paid all tuition due for the year for his older children, with $2,000 remaining in a college savings fund. Further, Mierzwiak testified that he took out education loans for his oldest child in the amount of $114,000. He argues on appeal that it was not necessary for Lanham to take out any educational loans. However, Mierzwiak took out the loans, not out of necessity, but rather with the intention of investing the proceeds in an education account earning a higher interest rate than the loan interest rate to “hopefully come out ahead.” We note that Mierzwiak went on to testify that “when the market tanked last year so did the fund, and that’s why I’m just leaving that money in that fund and that’s the money that I’m going to use to pay back the college loans.” Despite this, at the time of the hearing, Mierzwiak had managed to save $45,000 to repay the educational loan that would not be due until after December 2010. Mierzwiak also testified that he was able to contribute the maximum amount to his 401(k), approximately $46,000 in 2009. Evidence admitted in the trial court also shows that Mierzwiak contributed $9,730 into a health savings account in 2009.

{¶ 39} Finally, in regard to the needs and standard of living of the remaining minor child, the magistrate plainly stated that he reviewed the “standard of living, educational costs, sports, and other enrichment activities for the minor child” as well as “the actual time share of the parents in conjunction with the parties’ responsibilities pursuant to their Shared Parenting Plan.” Testimony was elicited in the trial court that the minor child spends four days per week with Lanham and three days with Mierzwiak, but she spends some time each day at Lanham’s house eating and doing laundry. Testimony reveals that the minor child takes art classes and that Lanham’s work schedule made it difficult for the minor child to participate in travel volleyball. Thus, it is evident that the trial court considered the needs and lifestyle of the child, but also the needs and lifestyle of both parents when extrapolating the child-support payment.

{¶ 40} Therefore, because the trial court considered the needs and standard of living of both parties and the children as required by R.C. 3119.04(B), we cannot hold that the trial court erred.

Lanham v. Mierzwiak, 967 N.E.2d 1256, (Ohio Ct. App. Dec. 2, 2011).

If you feel your support amount is unreasonably high or unreasonably low, an attorney can review your information to determine if the determination was reached equitably. Zachary D. Smith, LLC, has experience in high income child support in Cincinnati and is available to talk more specifically about your case. To schedule an appointment please contact the office of Zachary D. Smith, LLC, at (513) 275-1164 or visit for further information.

Posted in Cincinnati Tagged with: ,

Factors That Determine Child Support in Ohio

Child support attorneys Cincinnati
Whether you are dissolving a marriage or simply separating from a partner with whom you share a child or children, an experienced and reputable family law attorney in Cincinnati can assist you with issues related to child support. You don’t want to be left facing financial hardship until your support payments begin. Zachary D. Smith, LLC is here to help you with child support issues, including securing an initial order of support.

What Factors Determine Child Support Amounts?

If you are entitled to child support, there are set guidelines under Ohio law that determines the amount of money you should receive to provide for your children.

The non-custodial parent will have to pay court-ordered support for the care of children, with the appropriate support amount determined by factors including:

  • The number of children being supported.
  • The amount of time the child spends under the care of each parent.
  • The income of each parent and the family’s combined income.
  • Other essential financial obligations, including existing support orders and amounts paid for mandatory deductions from wages, such as union dues.
  • Special needs of the child /children, including high costs of specialized care.

Generally, you will not be able to deviate from these guidelines without substantial grounds to modify the standard rules.

Because of the deference given to Ohio’s standard child support guidelines, the state may not permit any agreements you and your spouse make that allow for a different support amount than the guidelines dictated. For example, a waiver of child support in a prenuptial agreement or a negotiated agreement on support may not be upheld, even if both mother and father wish to adhere to the agreement.

Understanding Ohio Child Support Guidelines

To determine the amount of support due, parents must understand how the state of Ohio determines what metrics matter when using the standard support formula. Parents must understand, for example, what counts as income, which can include both W2 salaried income as well as income from rental properties and entrepreneurial activities.

Ohio Revised Code section 3119.01 explains some of the basic terms that are important when it comes to the calculation of support. Even with a careful reading of the statute, however, it can be difficult to determine exactly how much support will be required under these guidelines.

Support may be required even if a parent does not see the child, and even in circumstances where the paying parent has never been involved in the child’s life at all. As long as a mother or father’s parental rights have not been terminated, that parent is obliged to contribute financially to a child or children’s upbringing.

For further information and/or assistance in securing or modifying a support order, contact the law office of Zachary D. Smith, LLC today 513-275-1164 or visit

Posted in Family Law Tagged with: ,