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Columbus Divorce Law Blog

Supreme Court decision addresses vague wording in federal law

Ohio residents may favor tough penalties for repeat offenders, especially those who have been previously convicted of violent crimes. However, a federal law established in 1984 to impose stronger penalties on so-called career criminals has been found by the nation's highest court to be unconstitutionally vague in an important area. The 8-1 decision is the culmination of several years' efforts to deal with the interpretation of a certain clause.

The law allows for additional prison time to be added to the sentences of individuals who have at least three prior convictions of violent felonies. However, the general wording of the law often created a need for interpretation. Various courts throughout the nation have had to determine what types of activities fall under the phrase "conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another".

Public perception of child support law

Ohio parents who either owe or receive child support may relate to the frustrations many people feel over how those payments affect their financial circumstances. Public perception on a national level has been showed to be negative as individuals' perspectives of current support standards were recently evaluated in studies. The studies were focused on allowing respondents to explain how they would assign support amounts in specific circumstances, and their decisions typically differed quite a bit from the amounts that would be ordered in accordance with current formulas.

In most hypothetical scenarios presented to those being interviewed, the income of the custodial parent played a key part in the determination of an appropriate support amount due from a noncustodial parent. Participants expressed that both incomes should be taken into account in child support matters. Another issue affecting the perspectives of those participating in the study was that of remarriage of the custodial parent. Although a stepparent's income typically has no bearing on child support determinations, study participants felt that a custodial parent's remarriage should reduce the support payments of the noncustodial parent.

Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of gay marriage

Many Ohio residents have been paying close attention to the legal battle over same-sex marriage. The practice was banned in Ohio by lawmakers in 2004, and the state's residents have also supported a constitutional amendment prohibiting the recognition of same-sex marriage. However, these legislative efforts were consigned to the history books on June 26 when a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court rendered such laws unconstitutional.

The decision does not mark the first time that the nation's highest court has waded into the legal quagmire surrounding this issue. A ruling made by the court in 2013 guaranteed same-sex couples the same federal benefits as other spouses, but it did not address the underlying question of constitutionality. However, the court has now answered this question by overturning the decision of a federal appeals court by a six to three vote. The case involved an Ohio resident seeking recognition as a surviving spouse. He had married his partner in Maryland, but authorities in Ohio refused to recognize the marriage.

New study focuses on unpaid child support

Throughout Ohio and the rest of the country, much of the child support that has been ordered remains unpaid. In fact, only about 61 percent of child support ordered of men had been paid to the mothers of their children in 2011. A new study looked at other contributions that these individuals made.

The Journal of Marriage and Family included a study in its June edition about other contributions that fathers make, even if they are not current on their child support. The study researched 367 low-income noncustodial fathers who resided in three different cities. It found that 23 percent of the fathers gave child support through the system. About 46 percent contributed other types of support. Another 28 percent gave money directly to the mother of the children.

Sex offender programs may change after federal ruling

Ohioans who stand charged with sex crimes may be interested to hear about a June 2015 federal ruling that could change the way the accused are treated in Minnesota and other jurisdictions. According to reports, 700 individuals sued the state because its sex-offender program effectively left them incarcerated for the rest of their lives even though they had already served their jail sentences satisfactorily. These individuals, many of whom were patients at two major facilities, were committed to the program in accordance with common law, but formal inquiries revealed that none of them had a chance of exiting the facility even if they responded favorably to treatment.

Although the judge ruled the existing sex-offender program unconstitutional the state's governor maintains that it didn't violate anyone's rights. At the time of reporting, however, the judicial order hadn't become finalized, so it remains to be seen whether the state might appeal the decision. The state was granted a two-month period to provide solutions before the courts mandate specific remedies.

Aurora shooter seeking insanity defense

Ohio residents may be familiar with a case involving a man who fired shots in a Colorado movie theater. He is accused of injuring 70 people and killing 12 others. The man's lawyers admit that he fired shots. However, they argue that the accused is not legally responsible for the crime because he was mentally insane at the time of the incident.

The criminal defense of "not guilty by reason of insanity" applies when a person lacks the ability to create the requisite intent to commit a crime due to a mental disease or defect. This defense does not focus on the facts surrounding the allegations but on the state of the mind of the accused person. The most commonly used test is the M'Naghten test, which asks the jury to determine whether, at the time of the alleged crime, the accused had the ability to tell the difference between right and wrong. If the answer is no, the person is not guilty by reason of insanity.

An explanation of plea bargains for DUI

Part of the evaluation that an attorney conducts for a DUI case is determining whether it is better for the defendant to accept or negotiate a plea bargain or to go to trial. DUI defendants in Ohio have the choice of requesting public defenders or retaining private attorneys, both of which evaluate the best course action for the defendants.

Plea bargains are deals in which the defendants agree to enter guilty pleas. In a majority of cases, the guilty pleas are for lesser charges than those that the defendants would face at trial or for less severe consequences. As part of plea bargains, DUI defendants may agree to do some community service or complete alcohol diversion programs.

Protecting fathers’ rights in Ohio and West Virginia

In child custody proceedings of the past, mothers were often awarded primary custody of their children while fathers were given limited visitation time. However, the times have changed.

Fathers now play a much more active role in their children’s lives, and they are not satisfied with only being with their children every other weekend. Child development experts have also confirmed that children fare best when they have a meaningful relationship with both parents.

Ohio principal accused of soliciting a ‘minor’

A principal from northeast Ohio is already feeling the repercussions of conviction after being accused of soliciting a teen, who was actually an adult posing as a minor.

The 35-year-old principal of Henry Defer Intermediate School in Streetsboro was arrested last week and was set to appear in court this week. 

Fraternal twins can have two fathers, but how?

In any child custody and child support case, paternity is a deciding factor. That's because courts here in Ohio don't want to order a man to pay support or give him parental rights if a link to the child cannot be established either through voluntary acknowledgement or through genetic testing.

Now, most people know how babies are made. In most cases, people assume: one pregnancy, one father. But did you know that there is a biological quirk that can turn this assumption on its head? In fact, did you know that it's possible for fraternal twins to have two different fathers? Let's take a look.

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