Without question, custody and shared parenting are the hardest part of any breakup. And unfortunately, custody battles can rage on long after the marriage or relationship is over.

Many of us at Adams Family Law are parents ourselves, and some of us are dealing with custody arrangements for our own children. So we know how you feel. We also know that you and your children will probably be happier with a parenting situation you’ve agreed to, rather than one a judge has imposed. For most clients, our ultimate goal is to negotiate a parenting arrangement that is fair to you, takes your children’s needs into account, and works in the real world.

But when negotiation isn’t desirable or realistic, we are experienced courtroom lawyers who are fully prepared to fight for your interests in court.

How Do Judges Decide Custody in Ohio?

Ohio laws refer to child custody and support as an “allocation of parental rights and responsibilities.” The judge’s main concern is whether a parenting arrangement is in the children’s best interest.

Parents who are able to agree on a parenting schedule and division of responsibilities can submit a formal Shared Parenting Plan to the court, and the judge will usually approve it unless it is not in the children’s best interest. The judge will issue a shared parenting order requiring the parents to share some or all of the care, responsibilities and decision making involved in raising the children, as described in their plan.

If the parents don’t submit a Shared Parenting Plan, or if the judge rejects the plan, the judge will choose one parent as the legal custodian and residential parent and divide other responsibilities between the parents, including responsibility for support. The judge will also set a schedule for the nonresidential parent to spend time with the children.

The court can modify a parenting decree if circumstances have changed for the child or either of the parents since the original order was made and a modification would be in the child’s best interest. Or the parents can agree to change their shared parenting plan at any time.

The Best Interest of the Children

An Ohio judge may consider several things when deciding what’s in a child’s best interest:

  • The parents’ wishes
  • The child’s wishes
  • The child’s relationship with parents, siblings and others
  • The child’s adjustment to home, school and community
  • Everyone’s mental and physical health
  • Which parent is more likely to honor the other’s parenting rights
  • Whether a parent has failed to pay child support
  • Whether either parent has a child abuse or neglect conviction
  • Whether either parent has prevented the other one from spending time with the children
  • Whether either parent plans to move out of state

In addition, in deciding whether shared parenting is in the child’s best interest, the court will consider the parents’ ability to cooperate with each other and encourage the child to have a relationship with the other parent, and how close the parents live to one another.

Many couples are ultimately able to work together for the children’s’ benefit. But shared parenting isn’t appropriate in cases of neglect or physical or emotional abuse.

At Adams Family Law, we fight for a good situation for you and your kids.