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Civil Law

White Law Office, Co. > Civil Law

Parental Equal RIghts

Equal rights have always been a hot-button issue for Americans. Equal protection of the law, enshrined in the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, is the bedrock for the enforcement of equal rights. There are misunderstandings about whether separated parents have equal rights to their children in divorce. Fathers who feel that mothers are given preference in custody decisions are balanced by mothers who feel that they are at an economic disadvantage if the father is the greater wage earner. It is important to know that in Ohio separated parents start at a point of equality when it comes to making decisions on who the children live with. This policy is found in Ohio Revised Code Section 3109.03 which states: "When husband and wife are living separate and apart from each other, or are divorced, and the question as to the parental rights and responsibilities for the care of their children and the place of residence and legal custodian of their children are brought before a court of competent jurisdiction, they shall stand upon an equality as to the parental rights and responsibilities for the care of their children and the place of residence and legal custodian of their children, so far as parenthood is involved." This is an all too often neglected statute in divorce litigation. Good lawyers are aware of this policy and know how to use it to obtain the best results for their clients. Thomas D. White Senior Partner ...

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5 Questions to Ask When Looking for an Attorney

Finding an attorney adds stress to an already stressful situation. So, when you realize you need an attorney how can you be sure that you find the right one? 1. Does the attorney have a reputation for being able to handle your kind of matter? The single greatest factor in most people’s search for an attorney is personal recommendations. Ask your friends, family, neighbors, pastor, or other service providers who they recommend. Then ask them why they recommend that attorney. Is it because they got the job done quickly? Did the attorney keep them informed? What exactly was it that made them recommend that attorney to you. After looking for personal recommendations, search out the attorney on the internet and on social media. What are other people saying about the attorney? Do they advertise the kind of work you need? Have they written articles on the work you need? Using a combination of personal recommendations and online reviews can help lead you to an attorney that may fit your needs. 2. Does the attorney listen to your situation before recommending a solution? Once you are found an attorney you need to meet with them. This is usually in person, but it can also be done over the phone or via video chat. When you are meeting with the attorney the first time, who is doing most of the talking? That first meeting should start with you doing most of the talking and the attorney asking questions. Every situation is unique, and if the attorney doesn’t take time to...

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Protecting the Family [Tree] Farm: Part 2 (For Future Generations)

My last post mentioned some ways to protect your tree farm from misuse or abuse when logging or selling the timber off your property. But what will become of your tree farm in the future? What if you want to preserve it as a tree farm for future generations? If you have family that will carry on the legacy, a simple Will could be sufficient to keep the property in the family. If, however, you don't have family who wants to preserve the property, or you want to make sure property remains forested long after you and your family are gone, you may be interested in a conservation easement. A conservation easement basically preserves the land as it's being used, whether for typical agricultural products (corn, wheat, soy, etc.) or as a tree farm. You would be giving an organization, such as a land trust or conservancy, the right to permanently enforce the easement on the land – to use the property only for the stated purposes. In Ohio, if you want to receive compensation for having a conservation easement on your land, you could do this through a grant from the Clean Ohio Fund's Local Agricultural Easement Purchase Program (LAEPP). In that case, your land would have to meet certain requirements, such as having a minimum of 40 acres, it must contain a restriction against subdividing parcels in the future, and for forested land, it has to have a written Forest Management Plan in place. If you aren't concerned with...

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Embezzlement: How to Catch A Thief (Part 1)

If you are a business owner, how do you know if the person in charge of the books is not skimming off the top? What checks and balances do you have in place to ensure more than one person is looking at the financials? It should be an area that business owners review regularly but often times it's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day operations of the business. Things like the bank reconciliation statements and cash flow statements get put on the back burner for review at a later date. So what exactly is embezzlement? Embezzlement is the act of withholding assets for the purpose of conversion of such assets, by one or more persons to whom the assets were entrusted, either to be held or to be used for specific purposes. Embezzlement is a type of financial fraud. It's an employee who has taken it upon themselves to dictate how company money is spent and who feels a sense of entitlement. It's an abuse of power and the trust that the employee has been given. Let's start looking at ways to mitigate the chances of an employee embezzling money and look at potential red-flags. There are various studies done on an annual basis to determine the effects of embezzlement. One of the main things business owners can do to prevent embezzlement is getting to know their employees and looking for different characteristics as described below. The 2018 Hiscox Embezzlement Study states that...

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Giving Testimony: High Anxiety Part 2 – The Number One Mistake

Welcome to Part Two of my series of observations on the high anxiety of giving testimony. In this part, the number one mistake made by witnesses. Giving testimony is really a fairly simple procedure. Attorneys ask questions and witnesses give answers. Most questions are about something the witness has experienced. So, a good pattern of questions is similar to a journalist conducting an interview: who, what, when, where, how and why? Simple, right? Not so much. Especially with the "why" question, witnesses often commit the number one mistake in testifying: they guess. Whenever a witness says: "I guess," "I would imagine," "I'm pretty sure," "I suppose," or "from what everyone has told me," you know the witness is heading for trouble. Most of the time the last answer "what everyone has told me" is not allowed by the hearsay rule, but if you are an attorney whose witness is guessing, any objection you make in effect says "Sorry, Your Honor, my witness is an idiot and doesn't know what they are talking about." This is not a good position to be in when it is your witness testifying, much less if it is your client testifying. Why is guessing an answer the number one mistake in testifying? Because most of the time you will guess wrong! It never fails. Most guesses given under oath are just plain wrong. Trust me on this. I have had almost 40 years' experience of listening to bad guesses. Good trial attorneys know that. This is why if it is...

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Giving Testimony: High Anxiety Part 1

As a lawyer and judge, I have been around people giving testimony for about 40 years. Every time I reach the end of a trial or a round of depositions (before trial testimony given in lawyers' offices), I promise myself to write about the experience that I have seen so many go through (and occasionally gone through myself). Here are some of my observations about testifying for good or ill. The anxiety begins with the Oath or Affirmation. Anxiety, often high anxiety, is built into the process of testifying. Giving any testimony requires that you raise your right hand and swear or affirm, to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Swearing an oath to testify truthfully is in the form of, "Do you solemnly swear the that your testimony shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?" to which the witness responds, "I do." The purpose of the oath is to impress the witness with the solemnity of the trial and summons thoughts of divine retribution for lying under oath (which is also a seldom prosecuted crime called perjury). While I have never seen bolts from the sky strike down a perjurer, I have from time to time moved my chair to put greater distance between me and a witness that I highly suspected was lying. You know, just in case. As an alternative to taking an oath, a witness may "affirm the tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth...

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