Although there are probably step-by-step instructions on the Internet for do-it-yourself appendix removals, or dental surgery, or suturing an artery, nobody would try to perform such a delicate operation on himself. Although you know your own body, although you are intelligent and can follow instructions, it takes a trained professional to handle such matters appropriately. Family law matters are delicate operations, too, and a small mistake can have long-term consequences.
The break up of a marriage or relationship is an emotional experience, ranking as high as the death of a close family member as a stressor. An emotional person is not thinking clearly and needs guidance from an objective professional.
Property division, support matters, issues relating to children, if handled poorly, can have an impact for the rest of your life. I have seen situations where a person downloaded a form from the web and performed his own dissolution for him and his wife and was surprised to discover he had obligated himself to pay alimony for his lifetime, and the court did not retain the ability to make any changes. I have seen a case where a woman waived any rights she had in a retirement account earned during the marriage, thinking because she kept hers, he should keep his. As it turned out, his was worth five times what hers was worth. Don’t make mistakes like that. Hire a trained professional like family lawyer Melissa Graham-Hurd.
In Ohio, people who graduate college can attend law school. People who graduate from accredited law schools can take an examination written and administered by the Ohio Supreme Court. If a person passes the Ohio Bar Examination, he or she must pass a character and fitness evaluation in order to be admitted to practice. Once admitted, lawyers must take continuing legal education courses to maintain their licenses. Melissa Graham-Hurd regularly takes at least twice as many credits as are required to maintain her license. Lawyers must adhere to a Code of Professional Responsibility, requiring adherence to matters such as client confidentiality, avoidance of conflicts of interest, avoiding self-interest and many other topics. Melissa Graham-Hurd has been a member of bar association ethics committees, reviewing complaints against lawyers.
A person who chooses to represent himself/herself in family law matters must obey all the rules: the Civil Rules, Juvenile Rules, Evidence Rules, and Local Rules regarding procedures, timing, admissibility, discovery, service, and all other such matters. Pro se people must also follow the law concerning the subject matter at hand, whether it is the Ohio Revised Code, the Internal Revenue Service regulations, or Bankruptcy law.
People sometimes say they have a “simple” divorce, but it is rare indeed that such a thing exists, maybe if it is a very short marriage, with no wedding gifts received, no debts incurred, no employment income of any kind, no tax returns, and no payments made on any pre-marital debt. When property of any kind is acquired during the marriage, it should be equally divided or allocated in an equal way. If marital earnings are used to pay down pre-marital debt, it benefits one party to the marriage and should be compensated.
The family law issues become more complex when there is a family business, when one parent wants to relocate out-of-state or far enough away to make frequent parenting difficult, or when there were separate property assets (or debts) brought to the marriage and commingled with marital property (a tracing issue). Cases are complex when there is a high net worth to be divided, there are issues of spousal support because one party earns substantially more than the other, there has been a disproportionate share of marital responsibilities, or one partner gave up a career or stayed out of the workforce for the benefit of the marriage.
Family lawyer Melissa Graham-Hurd has been licensed by the Ohio Supreme Court since 1984. She has extensive knowledge and experience in family law matters. She reads every Ohio appellate case concerning family law as it is released, as well as writes for leading family law publications. Melissa Graham-Hurd is a member of the committee that writes the test for people seeking to become certified specialists on family relations law on an annual basis. She keeps up-to-date with developments in family law matters through professional associations within the state and nationwide. She seeks to learn something new every day.
Melissa Graham-Hurd believes in a client-centered practice, seeking to do what is best for the client at all times, striking a balance between fully protecting a person’s rights with every tool available to a lawyer in court and out of court and peacefully achieving settlements of disputes. Family law cases are each unique, just like the people who make up the families, so not every case should be handled in the same manner. Sometimes cases need litigation, and sometimes litigation would be overkill. As an independent professional, Melissa Graham-Hurd knows the difference and can provide professional guidance to you.