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When I’m gone, who will speak for my disabled child?

Every parent of a child with a disability worries – what happens when I’m gone?   Other children grow up to become self-sufficient. A child with a disability grows into an adult with a disability. They will need someone there for them. Who will speak for your disabled child when you’re gone?

Finding someone who “gets it”

Caring for a special needs child is tough enough. Parents know their own child. They know what they need now and what they will need as an adult.  Along the way, there are family or friends who also “get it.” These are people the parent would entrust with their child.

Parents planning for the future can ensure their child –whether a minor or an adult – is looked after by one of these trusted people.  Ohio law permits them to nominate a specific guardian for their disabled child, even if their son or daughter has entered adulthood.   

Parents nominate a guardian for the future when they may not be there. A guardian who will speak for their disabled child.

Who will speak for your child?

An adult with disabilities may need a guardian whether they live independently, in a group home or in an institution.  Even if a guardian doesn’t provide direct care, they will need to make important decisions about health care, living quarters or special educational needs.  A guardian oversees their care and steps in if something goes wrong. They become the disabled person’s voice.

If you pass away or are unable to make decisions for your child, the court can appoint a guardian.  If you have nominated someone for the post, the judge must consider that person, ask if they meet the legal requirements and determine it is in the best interest of your child.   Without a nomination, the court must consider whoever applies to be the guardian of your child.

We can help

At Holland & Muirden, we understand that the future – and estate planning – is different when you care for someone with special needs.  Contact us today to make your plans.

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Seville, Ohio couple to serve jail time for starving dogs

State v. Augusta and Burdett Crandall; cases we prosecuted for the Medina County SPCA.  Both will serve jail time and are prohibited from keeping companion animals indefinitely.

The Defendants, husband and wife, were each found guilty of companion animal cruelty for starving their dogs Thor and Loki (later renamed Abu and Andor).

The Defendants were sentenced today by Judge McIlvaine of the Wadsworth Municipal Court.  Burdett Crandall was given 90 days in jail, with 75 days suspended.  Augusta was given 90 days in jail with 80 days suspended.  That means he will serve 15 days, and she will serve 10.  The remaining suspended time may be imposed if they fail to complete 5 years’ probation.  During probation, they are prohibited from owning, keeping or living in a residence with animals.  They must also submit to random inspections.   There was no fine, but they must pay court costs and $5,304.17 restitution to the Medina County SPCA.  Finally, they are prohibited from owning or keeping companion animals indefinitely.

At sentencing, Augusta Crandall acknowledged that she went to school for veterinary practice for one and a half years before giving it up for financial reasons.

We are pleased that Judge McIlvaine has sent a strong message to the community about the seriousness of animal neglect.

Before photo SKMBT_C35314091615590

After photo Andor 2

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Neglect of dog results in 48 days in jail for Medina man.

State v. Randall Rees, a case we prosecuted for the Medina County SPCA in the Medina Municipal Court. Defendant was convicted of companion animal neglect for failure to provide proper care of Kali, a 10 month old pit bull. Kali suffered from demodex mange and severe itching resulting in the loss of most of her fur. 
Rees spent 42 days in jail for this offense. He is on probation for 3 years, and may serve another 48 days in jail if he violates the terms of his probation. Rees is also required to pay $290 restitution to the SPCA.

Medina Ohio Attorneys Animal Cruelty Case

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How is Dissolution Different from Divorce in Ohio?

In the state of Ohio, you can end your marriage in one of two ways–divorce or dissolution.


When parties cannot agree to resolve issues such as division of marital assets or debts, child custody/support, or spousal support (alimony), a divorce takes place. This process is adversarial. In order to obtain a divorce, one party must allege that their spouse has been at fault under one of the statutory grounds. Those grounds are:
-willful absence for more than one year;
-one spouse was already married at the time of their marriage to the second spouse (bigamy);
-extreme cruelty;
-habitual drunkenness;
-gross neglect of duty;
-fraudulent contract; and
-imprisonment of the other spouse.

The only true “no fault” grounds for divorce are:
-living separate and apart for one year without interruption and without cohabitation; and
-incompatibility that is not denied by either party.

The divorce process begins when one party files a complaint for divorce. A party may also file motions for restraining order and financial, health, and custody affidavits with the court. The complaint for divorce and accompanying documents are formally served upon the other party. Thereafter, a hearing to obtain an interim or temporary order may take place to settle financial issues while the divorce is proceeding, discovery is conducted to gather relevant information regarding the issues in the case, and pretrial conferences are held to discuss the case with the judge.

In Ohio, divorce cases are either settled by agreement of the parties or tried before a judge or magistrate. The court may resolve any issues that the parties cannot settle between themselves. In any event, a divorce cannot be granted until at least 6 weeks have passed from service of the complaint.

Marital Dissolution

On the other hand, a dissolution occurs when the parties are able to reach an agreement resolving all issues (parental rights, visitation, child support, spousal support, division of property, payment of debts, and payment of attorney fees, etc.). A dissolution helps parties to eliminate much of the divorce process and expense and, unlike a divorce, fault grounds are not at issue. This process is non-adversarial in nature, but still requires court approval.

A joint dissolution petition is not filed with the court until the parties have reached an agreement. While the parties are negotiating, the parties must voluntarily trade information. When an agreement is reached, the dissolution petition is filed with the court. A hearing will then occur, during which both parties must appear and testify that they are satisfied with the agreement; that they have made full disclosure of all assets and liabilities; that they have voluntarily signed the agreement; and that they both want the marriage dissolved. The court will decide whether to approve the parties’ agreement.

If the parties cannot resolve all the issues between them and still wish to terminate their marriage, one spouse will need to file for divorce instead of filing the joint dissolution petition. At any time before the court has granted a decree of dissolution of marriage, either party may convert the case into a divorce case.

The end result of both a divorce and a dissolution of marriage is the same: the marriage is terminated.

For more information, contact our offices in Fairlawn and Sharon Center at (877) 239-4480. We represent clients terminating their marriages throughout northeast Ohio.

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Medina, Ohio Attorney Learns About Psychiatric Disorders in Children

Attorney Janis Zachman recently attended a class on psychiatric disorders in children.

The curriculum included information on internalizing/emotional disorders (such as anxiety or mood disturbances), externalizing/behavioral disorders (such as disruptive disorders and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)  and trauma based disorders (such as reactive attachment), along with proven treatments.

The class was in fulfillment of her recertification as an Ohio Guardian ad Litem.  

This information is timely in our community as several of our area high schools deal with teen suicides.

Parents, child advocates and high school students are encouraged to learn more about depression and other indicators of risk for teen suicide at an E4 Youth Summit, sponsored by Medina County United Way on February 18-19 at the Blair Center in Westfield.    E4 stands for Equip, Educate. Empower and Engage.

All Medina County high school students are eligible to apply to participate.  Applications are available at each high school or by email from the United Way at

For more information on teen suicide in Medina County, see Medina Gazette: United Way: County failing to address teen suicide

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