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DOMESTIC RELATIONS  DIVISION OF ATHENS COMMON PLEAS COURT

Athens County, Ohio - Domestic Relations Division of Athens Common Pleas Court

Athens County Courthouse
4th Floor
1 S. Court Street, Athens, Ohio USA 45701

Judge George P. McCarthy               Magistrate Melinda Bradford              Judge Patrick J. Lang
      (740) 593-3591                                  (740)593-3240                                   (740) 592-3236 
    Fax (740) 592-3020                              Fax (740) 592-3282                           Fax (740) 592-3215


NOTICE
The following information is general in nature and is not to be relied upon for legal advice.  If you have a question about your legal rights you should contact an attorney.  The Court and its staff are not permitted to provide you legal advice.

 

NOTICE - COURT HOUSE HOURS 9:00 am to 4:00 pm WITH CONDITIONS

  • Beginning 5/11/20, visitors will be allowed to conduct business in the Courthouse or the Annex building between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • The hours of 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. are reserved for seniors and individuals who are at high risk for the COVID-19 virus.
  • People coming to the Athens County Annex building or the Courthouse will have to enter through the security entrance of the Courthouse. Visitors are required to wear a face covering while conducting business.
  • Visitors will be asked some screening questions before being allowed access. Visitors are encouraged to call ahead when coming to do business while the Governor’s stay at home order, which includes social distancing, is still in place.
  •  A drop box is available in the lobby area on the first floor of the Annex Building for those who do not have a face covering or not wishing to wait to be screened.
  • The County Sheriff’s office can be accessed by phone outside the office. Access is limited to one person at a time.
  • For more information, please call the Commissioner’s office at 740-592-3219.


NOTICE
COVID-19 and its impact on Parenting Time/Visitation Orders:

3/23/20 - It is the Court’s expectation that, even during this COVID-19 pandemic, there is compliance with parenting time/visitation orders issued by the Domestic Relations Court.  Failure to comply may subject a person to contempt of court.

Parties are encouraged to talk and work together through this.  Parties, by agreement, may modify the parenting time schedule to address health and safety concerns.  In the absence of an agreement between the parties to modify the schedule, it is the Court’s expectation that visitation occur as ordered, unless the child is sick or has a compromised immune system, someone in your household is sick or in the other parent’s household is sick, or someone in either household is in a high-risk group of contracting the virus. 

Please see Southeastern Ohio Legal Services press release concerning the issue.   SEOLS Press Release Re: Child Visitation

Thank you for your cooperation. 

- Magistrate Melinda Bradford

 

MAGISTRATE'S DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

Generally
The Domestic Relations Division is a part of the Athens Common Pleas Court. Magistrate Melinda Bradford has been the Magistrate of that court since May 1, 2008.  The Court is located on the 4th floor of the Athens County Courthouse, 1 S. Court Street, Athens, OH 45701.  The Courthouse sits on the corner of Court Street and Washington Street.  In addition to on street parking there is a parking garage located on East Washington Street. Check-in at the glass sliding door in the hallway at the Domestic Relations sign. 

Duties
Generally, the duties of the the Magistrate includes the overseeing & disposition of cases involving parties who are married involving issues surrounding Family Law which includes dissolutions, divorces, child custody, child support matters and contempt issues involving such cases.

The Magistrate sets guidelines for the attorneys to follow so that information may be exchanged between the parties and motions may be filed if necessary.  This helps the attorneys prepare for their respective cases as well as informs the opposing side the facts that support their position. This may lead to a settlement and resolution to the case. If the parties cannot reach a resolution then the case may be scheduled for hearing (trial).  At a hearing the Magistrate hears the case and acts as the factfinder and gatekeeper of the evidence.   There are no jury trials in Domestic Relations Court.  The Magistrate hears and makes recommended decisions to the judges based upon the evidence.  

Common Proceedings

The following are some examples of proceedings in Domestic Relations Court.

Temporary Orders Hearing - Upon filing a divorce action, a party may request this type of hearing to address issues of housing, spousal support, and child custody and visitation among other things.  These orders are temporary in nature and subject to change as the case progresses.  

A pre-trial hearing is where the parties and their respective attorney meet with the Magistrate to discuss issues in the case, the status of discovery, the need for appraisals and/or valuations, the need for a guardian-ad-litem to be appointed and the status of settlement negotiations. 

Status Conference - The Magistrate may meet with the attorneys for an update. 

Hearing - Sometimes referred to as a trial, a hearing  refers to the process where witnesses give testimony and evidence is submitted under oath to the Magistrate for consideration and decision. 

Additional Matters
The Magistrate also hears Petitions for Domestic Violence Civil Protection Orders, and cases being re-opened to modify custody, parenting time, child support, etc. 

Filing Fees for Domestic Cases:

  • Divorce/Dissolution with children: $350.00 without children $300.00
  • Counterclaim/Cross claim with children: $350.00 without children $300.00
  • Re-open case (Contempt): $150.00
  • Re-open case (Parental Rights/Custody): $250.00
  • Complaint for parentage $350.00 complaint for support $350.00
  • QUDRO/DOPO $80.00

Athens County Common Pleas Court - Domestic Relations Local Rules of Court - Counsel and litigants representing themselves are expected to be compliant with these local rules in addition to the Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure:

Athens Ohio Common Pleas Court Local Rules of Court (Updated)
Amendments to  Athens Ohio Common Pleas Local Rules of Court (Nov 7, 2005 Forward)
Amendments to Athens Ohio Common Pleas Local Rules of Court (April 2, 2019) 

The Ohio Supreme Court has made forms available on their website below.
Ohio Supreme Court Domestic Relations and Juvenile Court Forms
Athens County Common Pleas Clerk of Court Forms including Domestic Relations Forms
Filing Fees including Domestic Cases

Rev. 3/24/20 JGPM