Ask The Expert - Contrada Q & A

Question: I apologize this is not related to personal injury, but my kids are asking this question, one I cannot answer. They want to know at what age they no longer have to go to their Mom's house? I am divorced with two children with a shared parenting agreement, every other week I get my children. Their mom constantly yells at them and here lately she is getting close to physical  abusiveness. The only thing preventing me from calling the authorities is that there are no bruises, just some mental distress. They want to know at what age can they permanently stay with me?
Answer: The shared parenting arrangement currently in effect remains binding upon everyone unless and until the court that approved the arrangement modifies it. According to the applicable statute, a court cannot modify an existing decree unless it finds, based on facts that arose after the original order, “that a change has occurred in the circumstances of the child, the child’s residential parent, or either of the parents subject to a shared parenting decree, and that the modification is necessary to serve the best interest of the child.” Ohio Rev. Code § 3109.04(E)(1)(a). 
There’s no minimum age at which a child may express a preference about which parent s/he wants to live with. However, as I read the statute, the child’s preference is never binding on the court but is instead just one of many factors that the judge can take into account in deciding what course of action would be in the child’s best interest. In your case, that means that a judge could leave the current arrangement in place even if the kids want to live with you full-time. 
In order to achieve the result you want, you’ll need to petition the court the issued the original decree for a modification of your existing shared parenting agreement. For that you’ll need a lawyer who handles child custody disputes on a regular basis. You might want to consider contacting either the lawyer who represented you in the divorce or your local bar association (if you’d like a referral to a different lawyer).

Question: I am trying to find the easiest and most simple way to get a divorce from my wife of 14 years.  We don't make much money and what we make is mostly all tied up in paying bills, debts, etc.  We don't own any
property nor have any kids.  Our only assets are two cars that we are nearly finished paying on.  How easy is it in Toledo (Ohio) to obtain a divorce with minimal expense and minimal pain to each party?
Answer: Assuming that you and your wife have mutually agreed to part ways and can agree on dividing up your debts and assets, you might want to look into something a procedure called dissolution of marriage.
Dissolutions are generally quicker and less expensive than full-blown contested divorce proceedings. You should talk this over with a lawyer who handles domestic relations matters regularly. Such a lawyer can prepare and file the necessary paperwork. If you have trouble finding a lawyer on your own, the Toledo Bar  Association’s Lawyer Referral Service (419-242-2000) might be able to help.
Question: My husband and I recently moved from Florida.  We had wills made out in Florida and wonder if they are legal in Ohio or if we need new ones made out.
Answer:  Ohio honors wills made in other states. So long as your wills were properly prepared under Florida law, they’re perfectly legal and valid in Ohio. There’s no reason to have new wills drawn up, unless, of course, you and your husband want to change your bequests.
Question: I have a joint CD with my aunt, when my aunt passes away will this CD be included in her estate for distribution? Or will I receive it without going through the estate?
Answer: The answer depends on the specifics of your arrangement with the bank. If the certificate includes a right of survivorship, such that upon the death of one owner the second owner automatically gets the money, then the CD will not go through your aunt’s estate. If the CD doesn’t contain any survivorship language, then at least part of the money will go through the estate and be transferred to either your aunt’s heirs-at-law or the persons designated in her will. You can find out for sure by reading the certificate or by contacting the bank.

Question: Do I, as a patient, have the right to get a copy of blood work ordered by my doctor? I always have in the past, but now the hospital is telling me I can not because of the new privacy laws.
Answer:  Yes, you have a right of access to the test results. The federal government, specifically the Department of Health and Human Services, recently imposed greater restrictions on health care providers with regard to releasing confidential medical information. You can read up on the new regulations here: 
        http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/hipaa/ 
However, there’s nothing in the new regs that prohibit a health care provider from releasing information directly to the patient. You’ll need to sign a release form, but beyond that the test results should be yours for the asking. Chances are that the hospital in question is just trying to err on the side of caution in interpreting its obligations under the new law. If you can’t get anywhere with the hospital, you should be able to obtain a report of the test results from your doctor. S/he undoubtedly has a copy of the results in your file.

Question: I would like to know what I would need to do to file a complaint against an attorney?
Answer: You can lodge a complaint against an attorney by contacting the disciplinary committee of your city or county bar association. If the attorney practices in Toledo, you can call Jon Cherry of the Toledo Bar Association at 419-242-4969 and ask about filing a grievance. You’ll find additional information at the Association’s website: http://www.toledobar.org/.  
Alternatively, you can contact the Ohio Supreme Court’s Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline. They can be reached at 614-644-5800 or on the internet at http://www.sconet.state.oh.us/BOC/.