Friday, June 6, 2014

Who Is Responsible For Student Loan Debt When Couples Divorce?

            Many divorce couples today have a substantial amount of student loan debt that was incurred during their educational pursuits and lead them to their professional careers.  When these individuals divorce, courts must address who is responsible for the student loan debt.   
            When courts divide marital property, this also includes marital debt.  As student loans have exponentially increased in dollar amounts, so too have they grown in importance during property division.  The average student loan debt for students who graduated in 2012 is $29,000.  If advanced degrees were earned in medical school or law school, even more debt will be owed.  For domestic relations courts, the time period of when the debt was incurred is often dispositive of who ultimately has to pay the debt.  If the student loan debt was incurred before the marriage, it is almost always that individuals separate, non-marital responsibility.  When student loans are incurred during the marriage, the outcome will depend such factors as the length of the marriage, what the student loans were used for and the other factors set forth in R.C. 3105.171.
            It is important for courts to properly allocate the student loan debt when dividing the divorcing couple’s assets and liabilities.  Courts will also consider the allocation of the student loan debt when determining the support issues.  If you have substantial student loan debt, be sure to keep as much documentation in regard to when the debt was incurred, what the proceeds were used for, and don’t forget to tell your domestic relations practitioner about the debt so that your lawyer can properly advise you and protect your rights.  

For more information on this topic, or to schedule an appointment with Joseph Stafford, call 216.241.1074 or visit

Monday, June 2, 2014

Stalking or Sexually Oriented Offense Protection Order

            If you fear for your safety because you are being threatened with harm, followed, or harassed by another person (relative or stranger), you can apply for a Stalking or Sexually Oriented Offense Protection Order.  R.C. 2903.214 is designed to protect you if someone is harming, attempting to harm, threatening, following, stalking, harassing, contacting, or forcing sexual relations upon you. A Stalking or Sexually Oriented Offense Protection Order is broader in application and applies to persons who may not be covered under a Domestic Violence Civil Protection Order or a Criminal Protection Order because it applies whether the offender is a family or household member.  A court can order the Stalking or Sexually Oriented Offense Protection Order for up to five years and the Order is enforceable by the police just like any other protection order.

            The statute defines stalking as including a pattern of conduct that the stalker knows will cause the victim mental distress or cause the victim to believe that the stalker will cause physical harm to her.  This must rise to the level of a “pattern of conduct” and not just a single incident.  Other examples may include, threatening you, making harassing phone calls, sending threatening or harassing letters, damaging your property, or other conduct which frightens you or causes you mental distress.  If you fear for your safety and well-being due to an individual’s threats or harassment, contact Joseph Stafford, 216.241.1074, for a consultation to see if the actions meet the statutory definitions to obtain a Stalking or Sexually Oriented Offense Protection Order.