Where Clients Come First

Phone

419-581-9633

Child Custody in Ohio

CustodyChild custody is a common dispute between unmarried parents and parents ending a marriage. There are different types of custody in Ohio and the variations of parenting time and support are endless.
Child custody issues can arise from the termination of a marriage or between two unwed parents. When faced with a custody dispute, the Court is required by Ohio law to determine what is in the child’s best interests.

Types of Child Custody in Ohio

Most people have heard the terms joint custody and sole custody. Ohio has what is known as shared parenting, commonly known as joint custody, and a residential parent and non-residential parent. The type of parenting arrangement depends on many factors such as the relationship between the parents and child and the ability of the parents to work together.

Shared Parenting

In a shared parenting order, both parents are essentially residential parents as both are typically involved in the decision making process for all major aspects of a child’s life. A shared parenting order is accompanied by a shared parenting plan that lays out all terms of the shared parenting. A shared parenting arrangement does not necessarily mean that the child will spend half of the time with one parent and half of the time with the other parent. The parenting time in a shared parenting order can be set up in a never ending number of ways. In a shared parenting case the parents must be able to make decisions jointly regarding the care of their child. If the parents are unable or unwilling to work together, a shared parenting plan will not work. A misconception about shared parenting is that neither parent will pay child support – this may or may not be true. For more information about child support calculations click here to be directed to the appropriate page.

Sole Custody

If the parties are unable to work together or it is not in the best interest of the child to have a shared parenting arrangement, the Court may award custody to one parent. In a sole custody arrangement, there is one residential parent and legal custodian and the other parent is known as the non-residential parent. The residential parent typically makes all decisions regarding the care of the child. The non-residential parent is awarded visitation time as the Court determines is in the child’s best interest. If there are extreme circumstances, a non-residential parent may not be awarded any visitation time or may be awarded supervised visitation time only. People often mistakenly believe that a father cannot be awarded sole custody of a child. Under Ohio law, an unwed mother is the sole custodian of her child unless a Court determines otherwise. The fact that a parent is the mother does not, because of her gender alone, automatically mean the Court will grant her sole custody. The Court must consider all factors and circumstances of a case, including a specific list of items under Ohio law, when determining what would be in the child’s best interests.

Child Custody in the Domestic Relations Division

If the parties were married, custody disputes are handled by the domestic relations division of the Common Pleas Court in the appropriate county. Any time a marriage is ending and there are children involved, the Court must determine all aspects related to caring for the children. Visitation, medical insurance, and child support are all addressed and determine by the Court during a divorce.

Child Custody in the Juvenile Division

If the parties were never married, a custody dispute is heard by the juvenile division of the Common Pleas Court. Paternity must first be established between the parents and the child before the Court will make a custody determination. The Court will take into consideration the same factors as if the parties had been married when determining the custody arrangement. The Court must determine what is in the best interests of the child prior to making a custody determination.

Best Interests of a Child

The Ohio Revised Code lists specific items that the Court must consider when making a custody determination. The items to be considered are:

a) The wishes of the parents;

(b) The wishes and concerns of the child, as expressed to the court;

(c) The child’s interaction and interrelationship with the child’s parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interest;

(d) The child’s adjustment to the child’s home, school, and community;

(e) The mental and physical health of all persons involved in the situation;

(f) The parent more likely to honor and facilitate court-approved parenting time rights or visitation and companionship rights;

(g) Whether either parent has failed to make all child support payments, including all arrearages;

(h) Whether either parent or any member of the household of either parent previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to any criminal offense involving any act that resulted in a child being an abused child or a neglected child; whether either parent, in a case in which a child has been adjudicated an abused child or a neglected child, previously has been determined to be the perpetrator of the abusive or neglectful act that is the basis of an adjudication; whether either parent or any member of the household of either parent previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to a violation of section 2919.25 of the Revised Code or a sexually oriented offense involving a victim who at the time of the commission of the offense was a member of the family or household that is the subject of the current proceeding; whether either parent or any member of the household of either parent previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to any offense involving a victim who at the time of the commission of the offense was a member of the family or household that is the subject of the current proceeding and caused physical harm to the victim in the commission of the offense; and whether there is reason to believe that either parent has acted in a manner resulting in a child being an abused child or a neglected child;

(i) Whether one parent has continuously and willfully denied the other parent’s parenting time;

(j) Whether either parent has established a residence, or is planning to establish a residence, outside this state.

The Court may use the help of a guardian ad litem in determining what is in the child’s best interests. Many people are not familiar with the purpose of a guardian ad litem so for more information click here to be directed to that page.

If you are involved in a custody dispute or have questions regarding child custody, contact a licensed Ohio attorney. Click here to be directed to the Contact page for Yates Law Office, LLC.