Many individuals choose to represent themselves in a divorce or dissolution case. Oftentimes, in very simple matters, this is not a terrible decision. However, a recent case demonstrates the potential negative consequences of not having qualified counsel.
In this recent case, Husband and Wife dissolved their marriage in 2003. The parties agreed on all matters, including a provision on how to divide Husband’s pension. The pension was to be divided pursuant to an Order that was filed with the Court.
Wife’s lawyer prepared the Order, as Husband was not represented by an attorney. The problem was that the Order was inconsistent with the parties’ agreement, and Wife received a larger portion of the pension than she was entitled to.
Husband filed a motion with the Court to correct this error. Ultimately, his motion was denied because certain language was not included in the original agreement with his Wife, language that would have permitted his motion to go forward. Without this language, Husband needed to appeal his case within 30 days from the filing of the Order. There would have been little reason for him to do so, as he would not have known there was an error within the 30 day timeframe. Pension divisions often take many months before they are processed by the plan administrator.
Qualified Domestic Relations Orders, the Order used to divide retirement benefits, can be very complicated documents, filled with legalese. The original agreement needed to have language giving the Court jurisdiction to correct errors in the pension Order. Since it did not, Husband is stuck with the error, and Wife will continue to receive the additional benefits.
 Pearl v. Pearl, 2012-Ohio-4752.
Marty Hubbell is a partner in the law firm of Diehl & Hubbell, LLC (www.DiehlHubbell.com), and has been practicing domestic relations law in Warren County, Ohio since 2001. He was recently named an Ohio Super Lawyer for the third time, and has been named to the Top 40 Under 40 list. He is also a part-time Magistrate for the City of Lebanon, Ohio. He can be reached at (513) 932-2121 or MHubbell@DiehlHubbell.com
Diehl & Hubbell successfully argued that a trial court must inform a defendant of certain potential consequences at the time of sentencing. The Ohio Supreme Court’s decision reversed the Twelfth District Court of Appeals. The appellate court originally denied the requested relief under the ripeness doctrine.
The Ohio Supreme Court sided with the Defendant, and indicated that a reviewing court must strictly construe the statutory language.
The case is State v. Smith, 2012-Ohio-781.
The opinion can be found at: http://www.sconet.state.oh.us/rod/docs/pdf/0/2012/2012-ohio-781.pdf
Marty Hubbell’s Merit Brief can be found at: http://www.sconet.state.oh.us/tempx/694123.pdf
On Thursday, October 27th, 2011, the Stacy Schuler trial is expected to conclude. Judge Robert Peeler will give the verdict following the closing arguments of both the State and the defense. It is expected that the State will call its own expert witness to rebut the expert testimony provided by the defense yesterday. A forensic psychologist and/or toxicologist will testify that Ms. Schuler was not insane at the time of the alleged acts and that she could comprehend the difference between right and wrong. Yesterday, the defense provided two expert witnesses that claimed Stacy Schuler was insane at the time of the alleged acts due to a combination of health problems, Zoloft, and alcohol. The ‘SSRI Defense’, as it is being called, has been utilized approximately fifteen times during the last year in American courts – it has never succeeded. These experts based their testimony on evidence that anti-depressants mixed with alcohol can cause mania, increased sexual desire, and memory loss. As this is a bench trial, Judge Peeler will decide whether Ms. Schuler is guilty of sixteen counts of sexual battery and three misdemeanor counts of providing alcohol to minors. Schuler is facing over eighty years in prison if convicted on all counts.
Check out “It Ain’t Over Yet”, by Thomas J. Diehl. Mr. Diehl discusses tactics to combat the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision in Robinson v. Bates.
Ohio Attorneys, Diehl and Hubbell, LLC. A law firm in Southwest, Ohio, since 1988. We handle personal injury, criminal law, domestic relations, worker’s compensation, and civil litigation. We practice in all areas of Ohio including Warren, Greene, Montgomery, Clermont, Hamilton, and Highland counties, as well as Dayton, Cincinnati, Lebanon, Mason, Beavercreek, Kettering, Centerville, Waynesville, Ohio. Give us a call today and let us put our resources to work for you.
As I walked out of the Warren County Common Pleas Court in Lebanon, Ohio, this morning, the mood was tense. I had been at the courthouse for a hearing of my own, and couldn’t help but notice the frenzy of reporters and news cameras in and around the area. Virtually every news station in Dayton and Cincinnati was there.
Ryan Widmer, the husband accused of murdering his young wife, was standing in the hallway next to the lobby. He was surrounded by his legal team and a number of supporters. Widmer looked tired and scared. Unlike his previous days at court, he wasn’t laughing. Nor was he smiling. I wonder if something has changed for Ryan Widmer? Maybe he is starting to realize the gravity of this trial – what has been lost, and what is at stake.
I wonder if this attitude change is related to the mystery witness? Is her testimony as damaging as the prosecution seems to suggest? Her role in this ever increasing drama may be pivotal – and, at the least, very interesting.