Why I'm Running
I am running for Judge of the Hamilton County Domestic Relations Court because I want to put my experience, expertise, and dedication to work for the children and families of Hamilton County. Domestic Relations Court is where our county residents go for issues related to ending a marriage, such as support, custody, and property division. It is also the court that hears protection orders when there is domestic violence occurring in a family or household. I have practiced in the field of family law for more than twenty years.
Being a lawyer is my second career. Before I realized a long-held dream of becoming a lawyer, I was an English teacher. I am also a parent; my husband Tom and I have three wonderful sons, two amazing daughters-in-law, and two wonderful grandchildren. Working in family law allows me to bring my experiences in the classroom and as a parent to assisting families in crisis and helping achieve resolution.
As a student at UC Law, I clerked for a Domestic Relations Court judge. After graduation, I had a busy private practice as a partner at a firm in downtown Cincinnati, where I represented spouses, parents, and grandparents in the Domestic Relations Courts of Hamilton County and its surrounding counties. I often served as a guardian ad litem for children when the court asked me to assist in determining what was in a child’s best interest.
When I could, I settled my clients’ cases through negotiation and mediation. I also litigated the cases of hundreds more in court. My goal was always to find a solution that allowed families to move on as peacefully as possible once the case was over. I also argued cases on objection or appeal - when you challenge a court’s decision in a higher court - if I thought my client had not been fairly treated. I successfully challenged a decision that penalized my client for having children from different fathers, even though all the children were thriving. I successfully challenged a decision that penalized my client for having been to prison - for something totally unrelated to his ability to be a great dad. And I successfully challenged a ruling that took custody away from my client, when one reason the county wanted to take the child was they said my client had a “low IQ.”
In 2014, I became a Magistrate in the Warren County Domestic Relations Court, knowing I could help more families from behind the bench than in front of it. I heard and decided the cases of hundreds of families. I prided myself on writing clear decisions so that people could understand not just my words, but my reasoning. I loved that job, but I left it in May 2021 to focus on Hamilton County, where my husband and I have lived for more than forty years, and where we raised our family.
Why this Court?
Domestic Relations is a “specialty court.” Our rules and procedures can be different, and our purpose is definitely different from what you see on Law and Order. In a criminal court, justice may mean a jury finds the guy wasn’t the one who stole your car after all. In a general civil court, justice may mean the employer has to give you your job back. In Domestic Relations Court, justice means making sure both parents get to see as much of the children as possible. Justice means finding the right balance of support so that both parents can be as financially secure as possible. Justice means making sure that the end of the marriage is not the end of the family.
For the people of Hamilton County, justice in Domestic Relations Court also must mean that each person coming to the court is met with respect and compassion, that the Court finally addresses its appalling lack of diversity, and that the Court stops making families wait months to get motions decided and years to get cases completed. So much more can be done to help the Hamilton County Domestic Relations Court better serve our fellow residents. Cleaning up confusing forms and procedures, expanding the hours of access, increasing efficiency, and hiring based on experience and expertise rather than political favors are just the start of what I hope to do as your Domestic Relations Court judge.