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A Better Approach to Family Law


If you have questions about how your state's laws may address the issues in your marriage or family, contact our firm to schedule a consultation with an experienced family law attorney.

Important Information About Divorce and Family Law

The attorneys of Brinkman & Associates in Cincinnati, Ohio, have years of experience and a record of success helping clients through important transitions in their lives. Clients appreciate our direct and enthusiastic approach to resolving their legal issues.

To learn more about family law, please review the general information below and visit our family law Web page. To arrange a consultation about your legal problem, please contact the firm.

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At Brinkman & Associates, we understand that family law issues can be emotionally charged. Our family law practice focuses on giving you solid information and options that allow you to make smart choices about your future and your family.

To arrange a consultation with a lawyer experienced in divorce and family law issues, contact our office in Cincinnati. Call us toll free at 866-761-7660. The attorneys of Brinkman & Associates represent clients in Ohio and northern Kentucky.


Marriage is a voluntary, private contract between two adults. While it is a personal and emotional commitment, it is also an official relationship that changes the legal status of both parties. A family law attorney from Brinkman & Associates in Cincinnati, Ohio, can help you to understand the legal technicalities of marriage, as well as the rights and responsibilities that come along with it.

The legal rights and obligations associated with marriage have evolved with our society and today are the same for both spouses. Each state has its own rules about marriage, but there are some uniform principles, including:

  • Who can marry whom. Each state prohibits marriage between brothers and sisters, parent and child, and some prohibit marriage between aunt or uncle and niece or nephew. Traditionally, most states wouldn"t issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but a landmark 2015 Supreme Court case made it permissible for gay and lesbian partners across the country to marry.
  • Age requirements. Each state has a minimum age requirement, typically 18 years old before a marriage license can be issued. Some states permit marriage at a younger age if parental consent is given.
  • Residency requirements. Most states require one or both of the parties to reside in the state for a specific period of time before issuing a marriage license.
  • Medical exam and licensing. Some states require the completion of a medical exam and blood test before issuing a marriage license. The marriage license must be issued by a designated public official.
  • Ceremony and officials. Some states require a formal ceremony of some kind with witnesses and a licensed public or religious official in order to recognize the marriage. It doesn't need to be elaborate, but both parties must officially give their consent to the union.

There are numerous personal and legal benefits to marriage. For example, there are both federal and state laws that provide various rights only to married people. Other positives associated with marriage include Social Security survivor benefits, inheritance and property rights, the ability to sue third parties for the wrongful death of a spouse or for loss of consortium, and the right to make medical decisions on a spouse's behalf as well as have access to sensitive health information.

Common law marriage

Many couples believe they will form a common law marriage and be entitled to the legal benefits and obligations of married couples if they live together for a significant period of time. It is not quite that simple. Each state defines the requirements that must be met to legally qualify as having a common law marriage, and some states no longer recognize common law marriage at all.

Generally, a common law marriage is recognized when a heterosexual couple lives together in a common law marriage state for a significant period. Among the states that recognize common law marriage, none define the time period per se, but typically, a ten-year-old relationship or longer is required. The couple must also have the intent to be married, which is generally measured by whether or not the couple presents themselves to the public as a married couple. Evidence of the necessary intent includes sharing the same last name, filing joint tax returns and referring to each other as husband or wife.

As of yet, no states have made explicit provisions recognizing common law marriages for same-sex couples, but LGBT family law is an ever-evolving area.

Premarital and cohabitation agreements

Couples who are considering marriage or living together may benefit from talking to a family law attorney about the advantages of a premarital agreement (also called a "prenuptial agreement" or an "antenuptial agreement") or a cohabitation agreement. Although these types of contracts are not necessary very romantic, premarital agreements are a useful tool for defining the legal relationships between two people, particularly as they relate to property. Generally, the intent of these agreements is to create a framework for handling money and property issues during the marriage or relationship and to create a road map for property division should the relationship eventually end.

Each state has its own laws about what types of issues can be addressed in a premarital agreement, but there are some commonalities across state lines. For example, most states will not uphold agreements about child custody or support, and they will not uphold agreements that were created fraudulently or unfairly or that go against public policy. A number of states have also adopted the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act. The Act dictates how premarital agreements should address property ownership, control, and management during the marriage and how property should be divided upon separation, divorce or death.

Contact a family law attorney

Getting married is one of the most important things people do. It reflects a deep emotional commitment while also changing the parties' legal statuses. By understanding your rights and obligations as a married person, you may more fully appreciate the step you are taking. Before you marry or move in with your partner, consult a family law lawyer at Brinkman & Associates in Cincinnati, Ohio, to identify any future issues that you could resolve now to prevent difficulties later.

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DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

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I really appreciate the way Mrs. Brinkman handles difficult situations and difficult people.  She represents me with confidence, yet always makes sure that I know what is going on and that I fully understand my options.  Her paralegal Tamara, have also answered my questions promptly and professionally; and have helped me through some tough times.

-Lisa H.

Karen Brinkman was brilliant in court; I obtained full custody of my daughter and am extremely grateful.  She made my family, my witnesses, the other professionals, and myself very comfortable by constantly educating us and keeping us informed of the law and the legal procedures.  She deserves a lot of credit for her careful wording of motions and entries and her ability to take charge of out-of-control situations.

-Dave B.

Karen and Tamara went into action on behalf of my son and granddaughter.  Their caring attitudes come through in everything they say and do.  I am sure that I will be looking to Brinkman & Associates for legal advice and for common sense answers whenever I have a family law question in the future.

-Sandy E.

I was very thankful that I had Mrs. Brinkman on my side when I went to court regarding a modification of child support that had been requested by my former husband in the Hamilton County, Ohio, Juvenile Court.  She returns my calls and responds to my emails promptly and thoroughly.

-Debbie S.

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