Frequently Asked Domestic Relations Questions

What kinds of cases does the Domestic Relations Division of the Court handle?

The Domestic Relations Division hears divorces, dissolutions of marriage, and any matters regarding minor children that relate to those terminations of marriage. The Court maintains “continuing jurisdiction” over all matters concerning minor children of terminated marriages, which means that the Court can modify the orders regarding children. The Domestic Relations Division also hears all the requests for civil protection orders (CPOs), whether based on domestic violence, stalking, or a sexually oriented offense.

I do not have money for a lawyer. What can I do?

You have several options. The Court cannot appoint lawyers for divorces, dissolutions, or related cases, except in some situations when the other party claims you are in “contempt” for violating a court order. You may represent yourself, which is referred to as acting “pro se” or for yourself. You have a right to represent yourself, but this can be challenging because of the legal rules that affect your rights and obligations. You may also contact the Findlay/Hancock County Bar Association for the names of lawyers who handle cases in the area of domestic relations. You may also contact Legal Aid of Western Ohio at 1-888-534-1432 to see if you are eligible for their services.

Can I just fill out some forms to get a divorce? Will the Court give me forms?

The Court does have some forms and instructions to assist people who want to represent themselves. Those are available on this website, and the same forms and information are available at the Hancock County Law Library on the 4th Floor of the Hancock County Courthouse. The Court does not have a complete packet of everything you might need, as each divorce case is unique.

How do I get a divorce?

The easiest way is to contact an attorney to help you. There are many papers that must be completed and legal requirements that must be met. In addition, an attorney can give you advice about your options and the best decisions to make and can speak for you when at court. This process is more thoroughly explained on this website under General Information on Terminating Your Marriage and at the Domestic Relations Forms section on Instructions.

I was married in Hancock County, Ohio, or we lived most of our marriage in Hancock County. Do I have to come back to Ohio to get divorced?

No. You can only file for divorce in Ohio if you have been a resident of Ohio for at least six months immediately before you file for divorce. If you now reside in another State, you need to check the laws of that State.

I have only been married for a few months. Can I just get my marriage annulled?

Most people have to terminate their marriages through divorce rather than annulment. Annulments can only be granted under very limited circumstances related to the validity of the original marriage (for example, if one spouse is a bigamist, is incompetent, or forced the other to marry). If the spouses have cohabited or consummated the marriage, annulment is generally not available.

We do not want a divorce but just want to be separated. What do we do?

You can live separately without legal proceedings, or you can request a court order of legal separation. The process is similar to a divorce, except that you will remain legally married to one another. The Court can make orders regarding your property and any minor children. You should talk to an attorney about the benefits, if any, in your circumstances of getting a decree of legal separation rather than a divorce.

I have a pending case. How can I find out if it is set for hearing?

If you have an attorney, any notices of hearing would have been sent to the attorney. If you represent yourself, the Court will send the notice of hearing directly to you at the address the Court has in its records. You may also contact the Clerk of Courts or the Domestic Relations Court. It is helpful if you have a case number when you call.

Why is my case being heard by a Magistrate instead of a Judge? What is the difference between a Judge and a Magistrate?

A Magistrate acts for the Judge in cases assigned to the Magistrate. The Judges hire experienced attorneys to hear certain kinds of cases and to issue decisions. That process lets your case be heard more quickly because the Judge also hears criminal cases and other civil lawsuits. The Judges are elected and make the final decisions in all cases in the Court. The rules regarding magistrates, their decisions and orders, and the process of objection are all found in Rule 53 of the Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure.

I was already divorced. How do I get a certified copy of my divorce decree?

Certified or other copies of your divorce decree or judgment entry may be obtained through the office of the Hancock County Clerk of Courts, located on the 3rd Floor of the Hancock County Courthouse.

My case is set for hearing, and I cannot come to that hearing because of another important obligation. What can I do?

You can file a motion for a continuance, and you should file it as early as possible so the Court has time to review it and notify others if the hearing is going to be continued. You need to write out the reason for your request to re-schedule the hearing, file the request with the Clerk of Courts, and send a copy to the other party or attorney. Do not assume the hearing is continued just because you ask. You need to check with the Court and see if the continuance was granted. If it was not granted, you must come to the hearing or the hearing may be held without you. If there is an emergency situation that does not allow you to file a written request, telephone the Court right away to find out whether the Court will continue the hearing.

How can I get child support started?

If you have filed for divorce or legal separation, you can request temporary orders that include a child support payment. If you have not filed for divorce or legal separation but are living apart, you may contact the Hancock County Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) at 419-424-1365 or at 7814 County Road 140, Findlay, Ohio.

I am not getting the child support that was ordered. What can I do?

You can contact the Hancock County Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) at 419-424-1365 to speak with your caseworker. You may also contact the Ohio Child Support Payment Central at 1-800-860-2555. There may be payments made that have not been properly processed. If payments are not being made as ordered, you may file a motion with the Court to find the obligor (the one who owes support) in contempt for failing to pay as ordered. Forms and instructions for that process are available on this website at “Domestic Relations Forms.”

I am ordered to pay child support effective immediately, but I know it will take several weeks for the support to be withheld from my wages. How can I make sure I do not get behind in payments?

You may begin making payments as soon as you have a SETS (State Enforcement Tracking System) number, which you can get from the Hancock County Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) at 7814 County Road 140, Findlay, Ohio, telephone 419-424-1365. You can then send payments directly to Ohio Child Support Payment Central, P.O. Box 182372, Columbus, Ohio 43218 until payments are withheld from your wages. All payments should include your name, your social security number, and your SETS number for that case.

My former spouse and I get along. Can we agree that child support is paid directly to me rather than being handled by the Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA)?

No. Ohio law requires that all child support payments be made through the Ohio Child Support Payment Central and administered by the CSEA.

My former spouse does not reimburse me for his/her share of the medical bills for the children. What can I do?

If you have an order that specifies how the medical bills are to be paid and your former spouse is not following that order, you can file a motion to show cause or to find your former spouse in contempt for violating the court order. Before filing the motion, you must have provided your former spouse with copies of the bills in a timely manner and shown what amounts were due to you. You will have to prove to the Court what amounts are due based on the court order.

My former spouse will not let me see the children, even though I have a court order for parenting time (visitation). What can I do?

If you have an order that grants you parenting time and the children’s other parent refuses to allow you to see the children or interferes with that parenting time, you can file a motion to show cause or to find your former spouse in contempt for violating the order. The motion should specify the times and dates when you were denied parenting time. Forms and instructions for this process are available on this website at “Domestic Relations Forms.”

I need my child support reduced because of changes in my income or family situation, or I need more child support. What can I do?

You have two options. You can contact the Hancock County Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) at 7814 County Road 140, Findlay, Ohio, telephone 419-424-1365, and ask that the agency review your case for a modification of the order, or you can file a motion to modify child support directly with the Court. Both parents will have to provide documents to verify incomes and other financial information so that the support may be recalculated to determine if the court order should be changed. Forms and instructions for filing directly with the Court are available on this website at “Domestic Relations Forms.”

My child, or one of my children, will soon turn 18 years of age. How do I stop child support that is ordered for that child?

When the child should no longer receive support, the person who receives child support is required to notify the Hancock County Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA). Unfortunately, that person does not always immediately notify the CSEA, so you may notify the CSEA. When the CSEA receives notice from either of you, it will investigate the case and recommend to the Court about holding funds until the support can be properly adjusted or other orders made. Alternatively, you may file a motion directly with the Court to terminate the support and to hold or suspend all or some of the payment for the child who is an adult. Forms and instructions for this process (modification of child support) are available on this website at “Domestic Relations Forms.”

I am paying child support under a court order but the child has been living with me. How can I stop the child support?

You may file a motion to change the residential parent and to terminate or suspend the payment of child support until the Court can make some final decisions. Only the Court, either by approving any agreement you have with your former spouse or by issuing its own orders, can change the designation of residential parent and modify the child support.

I am the residential parent of my children and I plan to move from the Hancock County area. Do I have to do anything related to the court case?

Yes. Ohio law requires that the residential parent or custodian of a minor child under a court order notify the Court and other party upon relocation. You may obtain a Notice of Intent to Relocate form and file it with the Hancock County Clerk of Courts. See “Domestic Relations Forms” on this website.

I have a property division order that says the pension is to be divided by a QDRO. What is that and when will it be issued?

A QDRO is a Qualified Domestic Relations Order that is governed by federal law and relates to certain pension plans. It divides the pension or retirement benefits. These orders have very specific and technical requirements, and they must be approved by the pension plan administrators. The parties or attorneys are responsible for preparing the QDRO and getting it approved by the pension plan administrator.

I was awarded certain household goods in the divorce and my former spouse will not let me have those items, or my former spouse was supposed to pay certain bills and my former spouse has not paid them and the creditors are coming after me. What can I do?

If you have an order that requires your former spouse to do certain things, and the former spouse does not comply, you can file a motion to show cause or to find your former spouse in contempt for violating the order. The motion should specify the circumstances that you say violate the order and what part of the prior order you say was violated. Forms and instructions for this process are available on this website at “Domestic Relations Forms.”

My spouse is being physically abusive or threatening me with physical harm. What can I do?

The first step is to get to a safe place. Domestic violence and certain threatening behavior is a criminal offense, so you may contact your local law enforcement agency. You may also file a petition for a civil protection order (CPO). The petition forms are available at the Domestic Relations Court, Ground Floor, Hancock County Courthouse, or from the Hancock County Clerk of Courts, and you may contact the Open Arms Domestic Violence Shelter at 419-422-4766, for the assistance of a victim advocate. If there is a pending divorce case, you may also file for additional orders related to the children, contact, or possession of the home. See “Domestic Relations Division – General Information – III. Civil Protection Orders” for a general explanation of civil protection orders.

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