Guide to Child Custody Laws in Ohio
Parents who are divorcing in Ohio may have difficulty in figuring out how to divide their parenting responsibilities. Understanding child custody laws in Ohio can help both parents to work out a parenting plan that works for them and their child, and to make sure the plan is likely to be approved by a judge. This guide will help you understand some of the factors that Ohio courts look at when trying to decide where a child should live, and will also explain some of the specific terminology used for types of custody in Ohio.
Factors in Child Custody
Some parents still think that children above a particular age are allowed to choose which parent to live with. However, this is no longer the case. While at one time children were allowed to decide, today's judges only use a child's wishes as one factor in determining custody. Child custody laws in Ohio specify many factors that must also be taken into consideration. Some of the other factors include:
ñ The wishes of the parents—if you have drawn up a parenting plan that comes to an agreement about parenting responsibilities, the court is likely to approve it.
ñ The child's level of adjustment to his or her home
ñ Which parent is more likely to comply with visitation orders
ñ Whether there is a history of domestic violence or criminal behavior from either parent
As you can see, child custody laws in Ohio give a large amount of flexibility to judges wishing to consider whether a parenting plan is in a child's best interest. Unmarried mothers in Ohio have sole legal and physical custody of their children automatically unless a court order is filed to give parenting responsibilities to the father.
Courts may consider, based on child custody laws in Ohio Revised Code Section 3109.04, allowing parents to share their parenting responsibilities. This means that the parents would need to work together to make major life decisions about their child, including schooling, religious instruction, and healthcare choices.
The court does not always approve shared parenting (which used to be called “joint custody”). If one parent is seen as a potential abuser or kidnapper, if the parents live very far apart, or a child's court-appointed guardian ad litem argues against shared parenting, one parent may be awarded sole custody according to child custody laws in Ohio.
Visitation and Companionship Rights
Ohio Revised Code Section 3109.051 discusses “parenting time,” which can also be called visitation or companionship. These child custody laws in Ohio allow a non-residential parent (the parent the child is not living with) to have parenting time with their child as long as it is in that child's best interest.
In some circumstances, visitation may need to be supervised by a third party. Supervised visitation is typically granted when the child's safety might be in danger if the visitation was unsupervised, or when a child and parent have not spoken in a long time and an adjustment period is needed.