Dagger Law Blog and Articles

Dissolution v. Divorce

By Hannah Travis, Law Clerk

Divorce vs. DissolutionEnding a marriage is understandably difficult for anyone, especially when children are involved. But ending the union does not have to be legally complicated if the parties are amicable. Let us explore the difference between a dissolution and a divorce.

A dissolution essentially ends the marriage at no fault of either party. Instead, it may be a loss of love or a wish to go your separate ways. Divorce tends to be more fault-based, where one party commits an act causing the other spouse to want the marriage to end. Grounds for divorce include adultery, extreme cruelty, habitual drunkenness, gross neglect of duty, and others.

Dissolution of the marriage is usually a more manageable and less expensive way to end the marriage. Both parties must first reach an agreement on any potential issues. Such as who the designated parent will be if there are minor children of the marriage. Additionally, what the parental rights will be, what visitation will look like, and what child and spousal support the parties will be seeking.

Spouses must agree upon issues like these before filing a petition for dissolution with the court. Once filed, the court will schedule a hearing within the next 30 to 90 days. In this hearing, both parties will appear and testify to their satisfaction with the dissolution agreement. They will both fully disclose all assets and liabilities and voluntarily sign the dissolution agreement.

A divorce can be much more complicated and drawn out, especially when the parties are not on good terms. One party will begin the divorce proceeding by filing a “Complaint,” which will then be served on the other party notifying them of the wish to legally divorce. The other party will then respond with an “Answer.” There is also a discovery process that allows the parties to request answers or documents from each other.

A party may request temporary orders be granted by the court while the divorce is pending. Temporary orders would include things like child and spousal support. One reason for requesting temporary orders is that many spouses cannot separate while supporting themselves and the children, if there are any. Suppose one party moves out because the other spouse committed a fault. In that case, there could be a struggle to find housing or employment if the other spouse were making a substantial part of the household income. The temporary order would allow a spouse to temporarily receive support from the other until the court reaches a final ruling.

Hearings and further proceedings may occur during the entire divorce process. Professionals will determine property values and analyze financial information specific to the case. In Ohio, the parties will either settle or have a judge or magistrate hear the case (there are no jury trials).

In either case, it is always best to consult with an attorney to determine which route may be better for your situation. Additionally, the use of attorneys will help ensure that neither party takes advantage of the other and that the marriage gets divided fairly.

Dagger Law welcomes new associate attorney

Finley L. Newman-James photoFinley L. Newman-James has joined the Dagger Law team as an Associate Attorney serving Dagger Law’s Lancaster as well as central Ohio offices, located in Canal Winchester. He engages in the general practice of law, with an emphasis on civil litigation.

“Finley has distinguished himself through his prior experience and in law school,” said Jeff J. Spangler, co-managing partner at Dagger Law. “He possesses the skill set to achieve great success in the future both in the legal field as well as in our community, and we look forward to his contributions.”

Prior to joining Dagger Law, he worked at the Columbus office of an AmLaw 200 national law firm, where he worked on a variety of litigation and corporate transactional work.

Newman-James earned his Juris Doctor from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law in 2020. During his time in law school, he served as Business & Marketing Editor for the Ohio State Business Law Journal and was a member of Moritz’s Entrepreneurial Business Law Clinic, where he helped advise emerging small businesses, startups, and local entrepreneurs on a variety of business concerns, including formation/incorporation, equity agreements, tax planning, promissory notes, trademark registrations, licensing, employment agreements, brand enforcement & protection for businesses engaged in e-commerce, and corporate governance. In addition, he served as Treasurer of the Real Estate Law Association and published The State of Marijuana in The Buckeye State and Fiscal Policy Considerations of Legalized Recreational Marijuana, part of Ohio State’s Drug Enforcement Policy Center’s Paper Series, in the summer of 2019, which analyzed the fiscal policy considerations of a then-current proposed constitutional amendment on state and local governments.


Newman-James earned his Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude, with a double major in Political Science and Public Administration from Capital University in Bexley, Ohio in 2017. He is admitted to practice law in the state of Ohio and appear before the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. Additionally, he is a member of the Columbus Bar Association and Ohio State Bar Association. A native of Pickerington in northwestern Fairfield County, Newman-James resides in Violet Township.

You Need a Will at Any Age

By: Hannah Travis, Law Clerk and current law student at Capital University and Nolan Flowers, Associate Attorney at Dagger Law

WillThose of us in our early twenties, or even early thirties and forties, may wonder why we need a will. We assume that wills are “something older people get.” I’m going to tell you why it is important to not only have just a will, but also a power of attorney and healthcare directives, even if you believe you are not old enough to have these important documents.

One of the best ways in understanding the reasons for having estate documents is understanding the differences between them and how effective they can be when used properly in conjunction with one another. First, let us distinguish the three.

In its simplest form, a will is a document that allows a person to identify who will receive their assets after death. These beneficiaries can be spouses, children, grandchildren, friends, or even charities. A will can also allow parents to appoint a guardian for the minor child(ren), should they ever need guardianship.

A power of attorney is a document that allows an individual to appoint someone to serve as their attorney in fact, or “agent.” This means the appointed individual may handle financial, legal, business, or other matters on behalf of the principal in the event the principal is unable to act on their own behalf. The goal of the agent is to handle affairs in harmony as to how the principal most likely would have if it were not for their inability to do so.

Healthcare directives are generally made up of two independent documents: (1) healthcare power of attorney and (2) living will. A healthcare power of attorney provides an “agent” to make medical decisions on behalf of the principal in the event they are unable to do so. Although the healthcare power of attorney may seem similar to a power of attorney, the two documents do not overlap as far as authority provided to the agent, so this is why it is important to have both. A living will is a document where the principal dictates their end-of-life medical care in the event they would become unable to do so.

Now let us discuss why it is important to have each of these documents. It is important to have a will because this document allows you to expressly put your wishes in writing. Maybe you want one child to receive your house and car, but your other child to receive the rest of your assets, or maybe you want one person to get all your real and personal property. Ultimately, a will (or even a trust) will allow you to dictate how your assets will be distributed once you have passed. If you do not have a will prepared, Ohio’s Intestacy Succession laws will dictate how your assets get distributed. This may not align with your wishes. A will can also be a wonderful tool for those with minor children because a will allows you to identify guardianship provisions for them.

A power of attorney is important because you are appointing someone you trust to make decisions for you that may have both legal and financial implications. Having a person who can make these decisions is not only beneficial to the principal, but also to their loved ones.

Healthcare directives are similarly important because you are appointing someone to make choices regarding your health and care, which ultimately could mean appointing someone who decides when the time is right.

All these documents, when prepared correctly to adequately represent the intentions and wishes of an individual, can aid in reducing the stress and emotion that usually arises when these documents are acted upon. Additionally, a well-prepared estate plan may help reduce legal costs after the passing of a loved one.

The attorneys at Dagger Law place clients’ needs first, as clients are our top priority. They take great care in compiling these documents, as they truly care about you and your loved ones.

COVID-19 Hours of Operation and Precautions

Coronavirus **UPDATED 14 JULY, 2020**

For the protection and peace of mind of our clients, staff, and the community at large, Dagger Law has established an office policy to practice social distancing and to conducting business by phone and email based on the attorney’s discretion and safety of all involved.

Under certain circumstances, it may be necessary for clients to visit our office in order to attend meetings, review and sign documents, or for depositions. In these instances, appointments will be coordinated through your attorney and specific guidance regarding the meeting will be provided so that the meeting can go smoothly and quickly. Though we are accepting unscheduled, in-person, visits we request that every effort be made to set an appointment, the interests of public safety.

For your convenience, we do have a drop box, labeled “night drop” located in our rear parking lot on the left set of double doors as you look at the building. If you need to drop off a payment, or paperwork, we ask that you consider the use of this option to minimize any unnecessary social contact between clients and staff. We understand that not every packet of papers will fit in the slot, and that there may be times when you may have questions about your paperwork that may be answered before you hand them over to our attorneys and staff. If this is the case, we ask that you proceed to our main reception area located on the Main Street side of our offices. This reception area is staffed during working hours, and can assist clients with most questions. If you need a notary, our reception desk can also provide this service to you, quickly and safely.

We are not requiring the wearing of face masks by clients of the firm, but ask that you consider this option for the safety and protection of others, as recommended by the Governor of Ohio and the CDC. Dagger Law will be adhering to the new Ohio Public Health Advisory System, which uses four levels of Covid-19, public emergency, severity to determine what additional precautions might be necessary for the safe operation of our business. We encourage all clients and visitors to be aware of the current state of this advisory system before coming into our offices so that we can ensure that all parties are adequately protected. Some disposable masks may be available by request, as supplies last, for those clients who visit the firm in person. Staff and attorneys will wear face masks to the maximum extent possible, but may need to remove them in order to be heard clearly, or to have hard-of-hearing clients read lips. In these cases we will make every effort to institute the recommended six foot social distancing measures, if possible, in our office spaces and conference rooms.

Thank you for your cooperation and assistance with our efforts to keep the community safe. It is our hope that by acting with caution now, we may return to a more normal state quickly.

Why Families With Children Need an Updated Will.

Who Needs a WillIt might be a logical statement to say that everyone would be better off with some planning for their estate. However, today we want to focus on the reasons that families with kids need to be planning ahead.

While nobody wants to sit down and think about what happens to their kids if they suddenly, and unexpectedly, die; there are many important reasons to ensure that there is a clear plan in place.

  • First of all, as a parent, we know you want what is best for your children. In your mind you probably already have ideas about whether you would want your kids to be raised by a friend, godparent, or your favorite aunt. In many cases the plan has been loosely developed and it takes little work to make it official with a legal document. Without a Will, the state has no way of knowing who you would trust to raise your kids, or how you want your children to receive your property.
  • Second, nobody knows your children better than you do. While it is unlikely that the state would allow any harm to come to your children, it can’t know the particular needs that they might have. If the state might divide your property in an equitable manner, it may not account for your wish to help a child buy their first car, or assist a child with paying for college in your absence. These situations may not apply to your children equally, and only by establishing a will would you be able to ensure that these important items are taken into consideration.
  • Finally, you may admire the way your aunt loves and dotes on your children, but perhaps your accountant brother would be a better person to manage the assets that your child may now inherit upon your death. A will would allow you to create some distinctions about who manages what aspects of your child’s life, until they become an adult. As with our second point, you may know the strengths of the potential guardians in a way that the probate court may not.

We understand that you want what is best for your children. With some careful planning, today, you can ensure that your plans for your family can be protected even after an untimely death. It is hard to predict all the nuances that you might want to spell out in an estate plan. That is why Dagger Law recommends that you sit down with an attorney to ensure that your wishes and intentions are clearly defined, and allowed, under the law. We are here to help you protect your assets, and your children’s future. Call today.