Note: Certain questions posed to the clerks department require the advice of an attorney and cannot be answered by Court staff. Questions that cannot be answered by Court staff include:

- How to file without the assistance of an attorney.
- The type or form of pleadings, or documents that must be filed to establish your case.
- Recommendations for attorneys.
- Information on cases in which you are not a party.
- Information on any juvenile case if you are not a party to the case.


When you appear for a hearing in our Court, you should:
- Be prepared to pay any fines, fees or costs including application fee for a Public Defender.
- Bring your driver’s license and proof of insurance for all traffic cases.
- Dress appropriately.
What if I’m unable to appear on the date of my hearing?
Requests for continuance (rescheduling) of hearings, must be made in writing at least 10 days prior to your hearing date. You must state the reasons for your request for a continuance. If an emergency arises, the Court will, of course, consider that. If you are represented by counsel, then contact your attorney as soon as you become aware of a scheduling conflict. Your attorney can then file the appropriate motion with the Court.


How do I file a petition for custody or visitation?
Juvenile Court will accept filings requesting custody and/or visitation in cases involving unmarried parents. For your convenience, forms can be located within this web site under the Downloads tab and then by selecting Forms for Filing. Standard filing fees will apply.
If one parent has legal custody, does the other parent have any rights?
Even if one parent has legal custody, the other parent still has parental rights. Those rights are set out in a Court order. A child has the right to a relationship with both parents unless a Court has specifically denied those rights.
How do I terminate my parental rights or the rights of my child's other parent?
Parental rights are usually terminated when another person adopts the child or the Court has found that the child is abused, neglected or dependent. You may want to contact an attorney for more information.
How do I get shared parenting or joint custody?
Because of the multitude of issues involved in shared parenting, it is best to contact an attorney to advise you on this process. In most cases, shared parenting is put in place by agreement of the parents.
What can I do if the other parent does not follow a Court order?
You can file a motion for contempt in the Lake County Juvenile Court Clerk's Office if the other parent does not follow a Court order.
How do I get my support order modified, reduced or terminated?
Court orders may be changed only by the issuance of another Court order. A change will be considered in a hearing in response to a motion.
How can a child's last name be changed?
A child's last name can be changed by agreement in a Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) administrative hearing. If a paternity adjudication is made in Juvenile Court, you may request the Court to order the change at that time. You may also want to check with Probate Court to see if they may be of assistance.
What determines the county in which one should file for custody and/or visitation?
There are exceptions to every rule, but generally, one must file in the Court which issued a previous order concerning custody or visitation. If there is no previous order, one must file in the county in which the child has resided for the previous six months.
What happens if I don't pay support?
Failure to comply with an order of the Court establishing child support will probably result in a finding of contempt of Court and could involve financial penalties and/or incarceration.
What can I do if I do not get my visitation that the Court ordered?
You should consider asking an attorney what options you have. If you believe the other party is in contempt of the Court order, you may file a motion for a contempt finding. Filing fees will need to be addressed and a hearing will be scheduled to address the motion.
What is the difference between custody and guardianship?
The terms are very similar by definition, but Juvenile Court is only involved in "custody" issues for children. Guardianship may involve adults as well as children, and is usually considered by Probate Court. You may want to consult with an attorney for a more in-depth definition.
What rights does a man have if he has not yet been found to be the child's father?
The mother of the child is the legal custodian of a child born outside of wedlock. The father's rights can be established by filing a complaint through court.
If we get back together, what happens to the child support obligation?
The child support order will continue until the Court terminates it. A motion must be filed advising that you are together and requesting that support be terminated. If both parties agree and file such agreements, the motion may be granted at the discretion of the court. If not, then a trial will be held.
What is a purge order?
A purge is a mandate with which a person who was found to be in contempt must comply in order to avoid incarceration, fine and other ordered sanctions.
Do parties have a right to a lawyer in a support case?
The Prosecutor's Office represents the CSEA in child support cases. The Public Defender's Office may represent the person responsible for paying support, if he or she has been charged with contempt of Court and is indigent.
How do I get my name on the birth certificate?
Normally, this is done automatically at the time of birth when an acknowledgement of paternity is signed. A parent/child relationship will otherwise need to be established, either administratively or by Court order, and a certified copy of the order is required before the Bureau of Vital Statistics will make a change to the birth certificate. Forms for this are available in the Clerk's Office.
How do I establish paternity?
Paternity may be established in a number of ways:
1. Both the mother and father may sign an affidavit of paternity and register it with the Central Paternity Registry.
2. An action may be initiated through the Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA). Information and assistance can be obtained at Lake County Job & Family Services/ CSEA, 177 Main Street, Painesville, OH., 44077 PHONE (440) 350-4000 or www2.lakecountyohio.gov/jfs.
3. A paternity complaint may be filed in Juvenile Court. This court has discretion to not enter a finding of paternity. The court assesses each case uniquely to determine whether genetic testing should be ordered.
If I am alleged to be the genetic father of a child, how can I make sure the child is mine?
A DNA (genetic) test is the best available scientific means to determine a parent/child relationship. Parties can use private services for testing. If a Court has established paternity, you should counsult with an attorney to determine your legal options.
How do I get my license reinstated if non-payment of support is the reason it was suspended?
You must ask the Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) Child Support Technician to see what they require in order to release the license suspension. Consult an attorney or legal professional for advice and options.


How can I check on the status of my charge? Can I review case files?
Come to the Lake County Juvenile Justice Center, 53 East Erie Street, Painesville, Ohio 44077 during business hours (Weekdays 8:00am to 4:00 pm) with proper identification to request the information. Any party to the case may review the legal file.
Can I speak to the Judge or Magistrate about my case?
The law does not allow the Judge or Magistrate to receive correspondence or information about a case outside of the courtroom. Anything the Judge or Magistrate learns about a case must be in the presence of all parties.
How can I get my juvenile record sealed or expunged?
The following is an explanation of the process that you must follow to seal or expunge your record.
1. You may apply to this Juvenile Court for an order to seal your record six months after any order made by the Court has ended. If you have been placed in a juvenile institution or other facility, you may not apply until six months after you have been discharged from such institution or facility and your probation or parole has ended.
2. "Seal a record" means to remove a record from the main file and to secure it in a separate file that contains only sealed records, accessible only to the Juvenile Court.
3. Applying to seal your record doesn't automatically mean that it will be sealed. The Juvenile Court must find that you have been rehabilitated to a satisfactory degree. You must prove to the Judge or Magistrate that you have been rehabilitated. If your offense was aggravated murder, murder, rape, sexual battery or gross sexual imposition, your record cannot be sealed.
4. If your record is sealed by the Juvenile Court and someone asks you if you have a record, you may properly reply that no record exists. If asked, the Court will also reply that no record exists.
5. After your record has been sealed, your record will automatically be expunged after a period of five years or when you reach age 23, whichever occurs sooner. You may apply to the Juvenile Court to have your sealed record expunged sooner.
6. How is expunging a record different from sealing a record? Expunging a record means to destroy, delete and erase a record, as appropriate for the record's physical or electronic form or characteristic. This means that the record is permanently irretrievable.
7. You may obtain an application to either seal or expunge your record from the Juvenile Court Clerk's Office at 53 East Erie Street, Painesville, Ohio 44077. That is also the location to file the application after you have finished filling it out.
8. You may wish to read portions of the Ohio Revised Code, § 2151.355, 2151.356, 2151.357 and 2151.358 for further details, available at most libraries and on the internet.
What is the difference between the Judge and a Magistrate?
The Judge is elected and is responsible for the entire operation of the Court. Magistrates are appointed by the Judge and hear cases, make decisions on those cases, and enter orders which must be followed.
What kinds of cases can only the Judge hear?
The Judge hears four types of cases:
1. Cases in which a jury is required.
2. Cases referred by the Magistrates for possible relinquishment of jurisdiction to the adult Court.
3. Cases where a party has objected to the decision of a Magistrate.
4. Adult cases where there is a possibility of jail time.
What kind of cases can Magistrates hear?
Every case that is filed, except those listed in the previous question.
The Court does not:
- Provide forms to file all types of motions, complaint etc.
- Accept child support payments, however, the County Treasurer does accept child support payments.
- Appoint guardians of persons except that it does appoint Guardians ad Litem (for the trial) to protect children. In most cases, the fees for the Guardian ad Litem are paid by the parties. The court does accept and file powers of attorney in which parents grant guardianship to grandparents for medical and school purposes.
How do I get emancipated?
In Ohio, a juvenile is considered emancipated when he or she gets married, joins the military, or reaches the age of majority (18).
When will the Court reach a decision in my case?
Each case is decided on its own merit. A decision will be made after all parties have presented evidence and/or testimony. The Judge and Magistrates try to enter their decision within sixty (60) days.
How do I file an objection or an appeal?
You have several options depending upon what you are objecting to or appealing.
1. Motion to Set Aside a Magistrate's Order: A party may file a written motion requesting that the Judge set aside a Magistrate's Order within ten days of the order being entered. The motion must state the specific reason(s) for the request. See Juv. R. 40(D)(2)(b) and Civ. R. 53(D)(2)(b).
2. Objection to a Magistrate's Decision: A party may file written objections to a Magistrate's Decision within 14 days of the decision being entered. The objection must state the specific reason(s) for the objection. If the objection is to a factual finding, a party must provide a transcript of the proceedings. See Juv. R. 40(D)(3)(b) and Civ. R. 53(D)(3)(b).
3. Appeal of a Judge's Final Order or Judgment: A party may appeal to the Court of Appeals by filing a notice of appeal in the Juvenile Court Clerk's Office within 30 days of the date the judgment entry is filed.
What kind of juvenile violent crimes could lead directly to adult Court?
Serious felony crimes such as homicides, robberies, sex offenses and burglaries.
How do I get driving privileges if the Court or school initiated the suspension?
If the Court suspends your license and circumstances change, you can direct a written request to the Court for consideration of driving privileges. If the suspension is initiated by a school, you must file a motion for reinstatement, address a filing fee and present your request at a hearing before a Judge.
What happens if I don't pay my Court fines and costs?
Costs and fines do not go away unless they are paid. Juvenile Court has traditionally been responsive to the need of clients and allowed payment plans over a period of time. Costs and fines are debts just like any other financial obligation. Failure to pay fines and costs will prevent records being sealed or expunged and will be reason to begin collection procedures.
Do the juvenile and parent need to be present for a tobacco citation?
The juvenile and one parent must be present at the tobacco conference. If the juvenile admits to the tobacco offense, they have the option to attend a Smoking Education Program within 60 days from the date of the conference, or to waive the smoking program by paying a fine of $100.00 and court costs of $68.00.
Where do I go to pay my traffic ticket?
A juvenile and a parent or guardian must come to Court for a hearing. Juvenile traffic tickets in Lake County cannot be paid or waived without a hearing unless forms are properly filed with the Court's Traffic Violations Bureau. Click here for forms
What is the role of a Probation Officer?
A Probation Officer (P.O.) supervises juveniles on probation. A P.O. is responsible to meet with the probationer and his or her parents or guardian to explain and sign the rules of probation. Each P.O. investigates and assesses the youth for risk of re-offending along with mental health, substance abuse and psychosocial needs through services within the Court and through community referral.
Can a juvenile in a traffic case apply for a Public Defender?
This depends on the case involved. If you are charged with operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (OVI), of driving without a license or when your license is under suspension (DUS), if you have previously been warned by a court that you could be incarcerated, or if you face any other charge for which you could be incarcerated, you are entitled to a Public Defender if you are indigent.
What are the qualifications to become a Judge or Magistrate?
Judges and Magistrates are required to be lawyers in good standing. In addition, a Judge must have practiced law for a minimum of six (6) years, and a Magistrate must have practiced law for a minimum of four (4) years.
What is a bond?
A bond is a sum of money posted to insure a defendant’s appearance in Court. Failure to comply with the terms of the bond will probably result in the forfeiture of the bond and a warrant for the arrest of the defendant.

How do I obtain court appointed counsel?
The Court can appoint counsel for you if you are indigent and if your issue qualifies for court appointed counsel. The law does not provide appointed attorneys for paternity, custody, visitation, child support, or civil contempt when loss of liberty is not a possibility. To apply for counsel, you must personally appear at the Juvenile Court and complete a financial disclosure / affidavit of indigency form. The affidavit requires income and expense information for yourself as well as anyone living in your household. In order to be represented at a hearing, you must make application for counsel at least 7 days prior to your hearing date. There is a state mandated $25.00, nonrefundable fee to file an application for a court appointed attorney.
Do parties have a right to a lawyer in a paternity or support case?
Every party has a right to counsel in every Court case. The Prosecutor's Office represents the CSEA in child support cases. The Public Defender's Office may represent the person responsible for paying support, if he or she has been charged with contempt of Court and is indigent.
Can a juvenile in a traffic case apply for a Public Defender?
This depends on the case involved. If you are charged with operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (OVI), of driving without a license or when your license is under suspension (DUS), if you have previously been warned by a court that you could be incarcerated, or if you face any other charge for which you could be incarcerated, you are entitled to a Public Defender if you are indigent.

Do I have to be present in Court to make my statement?
No. You will receive notice of every hearing and can be present at all, or any, of them. You are not required to attend any hearing unless you are subpoenaed to be a witness. You will only be allowed to speak at the dispositional (sentence) hearing unless you are called as a witness.
I am a victim in a case and the juvenile has not paid restitution, what are my options?
This Court’s Probation Department is very diligent in its efforts to obtain restitution for victims of juvenile crimes. In many instances, however, juveniles are not able to work and it becomes difficult to obtain payment. Victims may also seek restitution from the parents of the juvenile by initiating a civil lawsuit in the appropriate court.
I am the victim in a case and I have received notice of a hearing. Am I required to attend?
You are not required to attend unless you receive a subpoena. The notice of hearing is just to advise you that a hearing is scheduled. You may appear if you wish, however, your attendance is not required.
What is the process for a victim to initiate a civil lawsuit?
The Victim should contact the Victim’s Assistance Office at 350-2691 to inform them that they intend to file a civil lawsuit. The office will provide them with documentation that the juvenile has been ordered to pay restitution. The paperwork will include the name of the juvenile, his/her parents and their address. The next step is to file the appropriate pleadings with the proper Municipal or Common Pleas Court, depending on the amount involved. A civil lawsuit must be filed in the jurisdiction in which the incident occurred. There is a fee associated in filing a civil lawsuit.
If the offender is committed to the Department of Youth Services, can I be informed of his or her release?
Victims of crime are encouraged to participate in Ohio's VINE service. VINE (Victims' Information and Notification Everyday) is a free, anonymous, computer-based service that provides victims of crime important information and notification. VINE notifies the victim about the offender's status while the offender is incarcerated in ODYS. When the offender is released, victims are notified automatically. To receive information on the VINE program, please call 614-644-6416.
What precautions can I take to keep the offender away from me?
A victim who feels in danger of retaliation from an offender can request a “no contact” order. You must advise the victims’ advocate or bailiff if you need one. Such order must be granted by the Judge or Magistrate. It specifies how long the offender is required to stay away from the victim. If the victim chooses to attend the Court hearing, the victim can ask the Judge or Magistrate for such order.
When can I provide my victim impact statement to the Court?
A Victim Impact Statement will be mailed to you at the inception of the case. It should be promptly mailed back. This statement is presented to the Magistrate or Judge during, or before, the offender's hearing. The Magistrate or Judge will make a decision based on all factors involved in the case.

What is Unofficial Court?
Only minor violations of the law can be “unofficially considered”. Unofficial means that you will not have a permanent juvenile record. A juvenile has only one opportunity to have a case heard unofficially. It's a one-time chance. You have the right to have an attorney during an unofficial hearing. A case can only be heard unofficially if the person admits the charge. Trials can only be held in an official courtroom.
Who is eligible to have a hearing in Unofficial?
A juvenile under the age of eighteen with a first-time minor offense.
What's the difference between Official and Unofficial?
A permanent record is not kept of unofficial cases like it is for official. Official cases may have multiple hearings, whereas only one is permitted for unofficial cases.
How long does it take for the hearing?
Usually, hearings are scheduled in forty-five minute intervals. Each hearing is different, however, and some may take longer. Timeframes vary on a day-to-day basis.