When parents are going through a divorce, many of the issues that come up involve future custody arrangements for the children. Although all states have adopted the Uniform Child Custody Act (UCCA), which was created to reduce conflict in custody decisions across state lines, there is a fairly wide variety of opinion on issues of sole or joint custody, the child’s wishes and visitation rights of grandparents.
In Ohio, there is a strong emphasis on co-parenting for minor children when appropriate, and where the parents have been married the courts will factor in the parental rights and responsibilities of both parties. Having said this, Ohio also recognizes and will award sole custody to the mother when the parents are not married.
Custody decisions and the parenting plan
Under Ohio law, parents are required to submit a proposed parenting plan to the court, in which they outline how they plan to cooperatively provide for and raise the child. When the parents fail to submit a plan, the court will make the determination of one parent as residential parent as well as legal custodian. Parents are also required by law to take a parenting class.
The final ruling on the co-parenting plan does not necessarily guarantee that both parents’ responsibilities will be equal. Above all, the best interests of the child are considered in the judge’s determination and will include factors such as:
- each parent’s ability to provide for the physical and emotional needs of the child, as well as their respective mental and physical health
- each parent’s ability to make joint decisions on childrearing and to encourage a continued relationship with the other parent
- any evidence of domestic violence, abuse, negligence or substance addiction
- the child’s wishes, if of the age to understand
- the child’s relationship with each parent and family members, medical or educational needs, as well as ability to adjust to community, home or school
Although state law emphasizes a preference for co-equal parenting in child custody arrangements, this may not be possible when these and other factors are taken into account by the court.
For parents in Dublin and throughout Ohio, it is important to prepare, and if necessary, fight for your custody rights with the help of an experienced family law attorney who is knowledgeable of Ohio custody laws.