Friday, February 17, 2017

Daniel Gigiano Reviews Ohio Traffic Accident Tips

What should you do if you are involved in a traffic accident?  If you get involved in a traffic accident on a public road, you are required to do a number of things.  First, you must stop and remain at the scene.  You must also give your name, address, vehicle license plate number, and name and address of the vehicle owner to the police, persons injured in the accident and to the operator, occupant, or owner of the damaged vehicle.  If he injured person is not in a position to understand or receive this information, you must immediately notify the nearest police authority of the location of the accident, your name and address and your vehicle license plate number.  You must also show your driver’s license to anyone who requests it.  You must also remain at the scene until the police arrive, unless you are transported to another location by ambulance. 

Do Not Immediately Leave The Scene

If you get involved in an accident on a private road, you must still stop at the scene. Upon request,
you must show your driver’s license, and give your name, address, vehicle license plate number, and the name and address of the vehicle owner.  If you do not give this information to the owner or person in charge of the damaged property, you must give the information to the police within 24 hours, along with the date, time and location of the accident.  

If you hit a parked vehicle on a public or private road, you must firmly attach to it in a conspicuous place your name, address, vehicle license plate number and the name and address of the vehicle owner. 

Although you may not always be required to notify the police after an accident, it may be a good idea to do so, because the police can examine the accident scene and divert traffic in the area.  The information that the police gather may be important in the future.  You are not legally required to file a crash report with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV), but may do so within 6 months of the accident, using BMV Form 3303, to report that a driver or owner of a vehicle in the accident was not insured.  The BMV may suspend the driver or owner’s driver’s license as a result. 

Show Proof Of Insurance

If you are cited for a traffic ticket and do not show proof of insurance, you must show proof of insurance to the clerk of courts handling your traffic citation.  If you do not do so, you will have a limited (very limited) opportunity to show proof of insurance to the BMV following a conviction on the citation.  If you do not do so, your driver’s license will be suspended from 90 days to two years, you will have to pay a reinstatement fee, and show proof of continuing financial responsibility. 

Your insurance policy likely requires that you cooperate with your insurance company.  Failure to do so may affect your insurance coverage.  However, nobody can force you to make a statement or admit fault.

Be Careful Of What You Do And Say

There are some things that you should do, but are not required to do if you are involved in a traffic
accident.  You should help any injured people, but avoid moving them in any way that may aggravate an injury.  You should avoid moving your vehicles until the police arrive, if traffic and road conditions permit it.  You should write down important information and take pictures.  You should be helpful to the investigating officer, but you are not required to make a statement or any self-incriminating statements.  In more serious cases, be aware that the police may take steps to obtain and examine your vehicle’s “black box,” which will give vital information about the vehicle’s operation in the final seconds prior to the accident. 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Daniel Gigiano Reviews Ohio Child Custody Modification

Courts modifying child custody in Ohio have to follow a set of rules.  As always, the best interests of the child must be considered.  However, before getting to that point, the court must consider a number of factors as to whether the case qualifies for a modification of parental rights and responsibilities. 
The court must first find a change of circumstances has occurred.  This is done by determining that facts have arisen or were unknown since the last court order creating a change of circumstances in the child or the residential parent.  The court then turns to the next point in the analysis.  The court must then determine one of the following:  (1) the residential parent agreed to a change; (2) the child, with the consent of the residential parent, has been integrated into the family of the person seeking to become the residential parent; or (3) the harm likely to be caused by a change of environment is outweighed by the advantages of the change of environment to the child.  Once these first two factors have been determined, then the best interests of the child is considered in considering a change in placement.  
Attorney Gigiano was admitted to the practice of law in Illinois in 1993.  In 1999, he was admitted to practice in Ohio.  In 2000, he took his experience to a private practice in Wadsworth, Medina County, Ohio.  Attorney Gigiano started his own practice in 2002 and has maintained a practice in Wadsworth since that time, including numerous cases involving modifying child custody in Ohio.  Call now if you need the services of a Wadsworth child custody law lawyer in Medina County or a Wooster child custody law lawyer near Barberton.    


Daniel Gigiano Reviews Debtors Prison

Ohio Outlaws Debtors' Prison

The Ohio Supreme Court has ordered Ohio courts to stop reviving debtors’ prison.  In other words, Ohio outlaws debtors’ prison.  In February 2014, the high court indicated that it would not tolerate the court’s imprisoning people who could not afford to pay fines and costs. 


What is debtors’ prison?

Debtors’ prison is when one is incarcerated for not paying a debt.  As late as the nineteenth century, Western European countries dealt with unpaid debt through the use of debtors’ prisons.  Such practices date back to ancient Athens, where Athenians were sold into slavery through debt bondage.  Debt bondage was outlawed in Athens in 600 B.C.  The Romans also used this practice until it too was outlawed in 326 B.C.  In the Middle Ages in Europe, debtors were locked up in a single cell with other imprisoned debtors until their families paid their debt.  Many debtors died of disease and starvation in such conditions.  Debt bondage was revived in this system, as many debt prisoners were released to become serfs or indentured servants until they paid off their debt by working for their creditor.  Some form of debtors’ prison continued until it was outlawed in most countries in the 1800s.       

What is the Ohio Supreme Court doing to stop the revival of debtor’s prison?

The Ohio Supreme Court has issued a bench card outlining the procedures that courts must follow. 
The first paragraph of that bench card sets the tone:

Fines are separate from court costs.  Court costs and fees are civil, not criminal, obligations and may be collected only by the methods provided for the collection of civil judgments.  Sole authority exists under R.C. 2947.14 for a court or magistrate to commit an offender to jail for nonpayment of fines in a criminal case.  An offender CANNOT be held in contempt of court for refusal to pay fines.  Accordingly, unpaid fines and/or court costs may neither be a condition of probation, nor grounds for an extension or violation of probation.”

However, the Ohio Supreme Court is not saying that someone who can afford to pay can use this new approach to avoid paying.  “A person may be jailed for a willful refusal of nonpayment of a fine that he or she has the ability to pay.”  An ability-to-pay hearing is required prior to jailing someone for nonpayment of a fine.  Any jail imposed for failure to pay fines shall be credited at the rate of fifty dollars per day.  Jail cannot be imposed for failure to pay court costs.

Attorney Daniel Gigiano

Attorney Gigiano is a Wadsworth criminal defense attorney in Medina County, and Wadsworth bankruptcy attorney in Medina County.  His dedication to his clients’ interests has earned high attorney ratings in numerous websites.  His willingness to take on tough cases and work hard has also resulted in articles and links to his work.  If you have questions about this or other questions you  need answered by a Wooster criminal defense attorney near Orrville or an Akron criminal defense attorney near Barberton, please call Attorney Daniel F. Gigiano at 330-336-3330. 

Daniel Gigiano Reviews How To Dress For Ohio Courts

I am often asked how to dress for court.  Lawyers have a clear rule: male lawyers wear a minimum of a jacket and tie and usually a suit and tie; female lawyers wear a suit or other professional attire.  If you see an attorney wearing anything else, you will usually hear the attorney apologize for their appearance and that they only learned of the court hearing last minute. 

While the court will not usually require you to dress a certain way, it is a good idea to dress in a way that shows respect for the court.  For men, this would consist of a nice pair of slacks and a dress shirt.  Some men choose to wear a suit for trial.  For women, this would consist of a nice pair of slacks or dress with a nice blouse or sweater. 

I will now address what not to wear to court.  You should never wear a sleeveless t-shirt, clothing with holes, shorts, baseball caps, headbands, and t-shirts with offensive sayings or pictures.  Many courts will order you out of the courtroom if you show up wearing such things.  Some will even issue a warrant for your arrest if you fail to return on time wearing acceptable clothing.  Clothing that would normally be acceptable at a nightclub may not be acceptable in court.  Examples include skimpy black dresses and funky shirts, both of which may look good on the dance floor, but not so good in court.  People may get some slack for wearing dirty work clothing, but it would be a good idea to apologize to the court and explain that you came straight from work.   A better practice would be to bring a quick change of clothes and clean up and change in the court’s bathroom. 

If you are incarcerated, dressing properly is usually excused, but can be a challenge for trial.  For any pretrial hearings before the court, you will be arriving in jail-issued clothing.  However, for a jury trial, you should follow the rules set forth above.  A jury will judge you on how you look.  If you look like a prisoner, they will think of you as a prisoner.  This would not be a good way to start your case.  Sometimes, your attorney will make arrangements.  However, the better practice is to get your friends or family to bring your appropriate clothing for you to wear.  Your clothing will likely fit better than anything your lawyer brings for you. 

Many people tell me that they cannot afford to dress this way for court.  The lowest cost solution is to purchase second-hand clothing.  Looking for sales is a way to buy new clothing at a good price. 

Some people object to wearing such clothing, stating that it does not reflect their personality.  The courtroom is not the place for personal fashion statements.  Attorneys save their personal fashion statements for their personal lives, but dress for success in the courtroom.  Someone with a personal stake in the outcome in court should do the same.

If you have questions about this or other questions you need answered by an experienced lawyer, please call Attorney Daniel F. Gigiano at 330-336-3330.

Daniel Gigiano Reviews Ohio Spousal Support

In this article, Attorney Daniel Gigiano reviews Ohio spousal support laws.  There are numerous factors courts use to determine spousal support, some having more authority than others. 

How Does A Court Decide Spousal Support?

Ohio law considers a number of factors in deciding spousal support.  These factors include more than just the income of the parties, but considers the ages of the parties, tax consequences of support ,and the time necessary for a party to acquire the appropriate training for employment.  The complete list of factors is as follows:

1.      The income of the parties, from all sources, including but not limited to, income from property divided, disbursed, or distributed under Ohio Revised Code 3015.171;
2.      The relative earning abilities of the parties;
3.      The ages and the physical, mental, and emotional conditions of the parties;
4.      The retirement benefits of the parties;
5.      The duration of the marriage;
6.      The extent to which it would be inappropriate for a party, because that party will be custodian of a minor child of the marriage, to seek employment outside the home;
7.      The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage;
8.      The relative extent of education of the parties;
9.      The relative assets and liabilities of the parties, including but not limited to any court-ordered payments by the parties;
10.  The contribution of each party to the education, training, or earning ability of the other party, including, but not limited to, any party’s contribution to the acquisition of a professional degree of the other party;
11.  The time and expense necessary for the spouse who is seeking spousal support to acquire education, training, or job experience so that the spouse will be qualified to obtain appropriate employment, provided the education, training, or job experience, and employment is, in fact, sought;
12.  The tax consequences for each party, of an award of spousal support;
13.  The lost income production capacity of either party that resulted from that party’s marital responsibilities;
14.  Any other factor that the court expressly finds to be relevant and equitable.

Ohio law assumes that marriage is an equal partnership: “In determining whether spousal support is reasonable and in determining the amount and terms of payment of spousal support, each party shall be considered to have contributed equally to the production of marital income.”  This means that, while one spouse may have earned the income outside the home, the other spouse will be presumed to be an equal partner in that effort by caring for the children, cleaning the home, and preparing meals.  Certainly, the income-earning spouse was able to concentrate more on earning money with such responsibilities taken on by the other spouse. 

Courts Impute Income For Spousal Support

Courts impute income for spousal support, which means the court will determine that you should make a certain amount of income even if you do not.  The court does this by considering employment history, education, physical and mental disabilities, availability of employment in the area, typical wages in the area, skills and training, whether the person has the ability to earn the imputed income, the age and special needs of the child, and experience in the field.  If a party voluntarily reduces income or loses a job, that party’s higher income level will still likely be used.  If the income loss or reduction was involuntary and the person cannot easily obtain another job at the same income level, then the court may accept the person’s current income level for child support purposes. 

The concept of imputed income is designed to discourage parties from quitting their jobs for the sole purpose of reducing their spousal support payments.  It also discourages parties from sabotaging their jobs, or, in other words, engaging in activity that would get them fired.  If the court determines that a party has engaged in these types of actions, the court may, under Ohio law, impute the party’s wages from that former job. 

Is The IRS Definition Of Alimony The Same As Ohio Spousal Support?

Is the IRS definition of alimony the same as Ohio spousal support?  Depending on the state, a divorce
decree labels payments as spousal support, maintenance, or alimony.  Does that mean that the payments are considered to be alimony by the IRS?  Not necessarily.  Why does this matter?  It matters because qualifying spousal alimony payments are deductible by the payer and included in the recipient’s income. 

In Ohio, alimony is called spousal support.  For purposes of this article, we will use the Ohio term.  In order for a payment to qualify as spousal support by the IRS, all of the following requirements must be met:

1.      The payment must in cash, and not property;
2.      The written instrument does not designate the payment as not spousal support;
3.      If the parties are separated under a decree of divorce or separate maintenance, they are not members of the same household when the payment is made;
4.      There is no liability to make payment after the death of the recipient spouse; and
5.      The payment is not treated as child support.

Cash payments to a third party can be considered spousal support if they otherwise qualify.  Such qualified cash payments can include: rent, mortgage payments, medical and dental costs, utility bills, education and income taxes.  The payments are treated as though they were received by the spouse and then to the third party. 

The types of payments excluded as spousal support by the IRS include: noncash property settlements, child support, payments for use of the property, and payments to maintain the payer’s property.  Another method of excluding payments from spousal support treatment is for the separation agreement to simply characterize the spousal support payments as nondeductible by the payer spouse and nontaxable by the recipient. 

When Does Spousal Support End?

When does spousal support end?  Even when spousal support is determined as lifetime spousal support, it is not necessarily forever. 

There are four ways in which an order for spousal support may terminate:
1.      Spousal support may terminate on a specified date;
2.      Spousal support may terminate upon the occurrence of a specified event;
3.      The domestic relations court may terminate spousal support pursuant to its continuance jurisdiction if a change of circumstances has occurred that supports termination of spousal support;
4.      Spousal support may terminate as a matter of law upon remarriage of the recipient spouse or the death of either party.

Spousal support does not necessarily end when the recipient spouse cohabitates with a member of the opposite sex.  However, termination of spousal support upon cohabitation can occur if this condition is written in the separation agreement and divorce decree.

Spousal support does not necessarily end when the recipient finds a better job.  If the court does not reserve jurisdiction to modify spousal support, then it does not matter if the recipient gets a better job or if the payer loses a job.  The parties locked in the child support figure.  If the parties want to allow the court to consider such changes in the future, then the court must reserve jurisdiction to do so.  Otherwise, spousal support will not increase or decrease, but will only be subject to termination. 

About The Author – Daniel Gigiano, Esq.

Attorney Daniel Gigiano is located in downtown Wadsworth, Medina County, Ohio.  Daniel Gigiano, Esq. regularly represents individuals in spousal support matters in the courts in Medina County, Wayne County and Summit County.  Daniel Gigiano, attorney at law, has fought hard to ensure that the spousal support calculations were fair for his clients.