Child Custody

Columbus and Delaware, Ohio Child Custody Attorney

If you have a child custody matter in Columbus or Delaware, Ohio, contact Johnson Legal, LLC and speak with an experienced Columbus and Delaware, Ohio child custody attorney. Attorney David Johnson of Johnson Legal, LLC will discuss your case and assist you in protecting your rights. Call Johnson Legal, LLC at (614) 987-0192 or send an email to schedule a consultation regarding your child custody matter.

Child Custody in Ohio

The primary concern for most divorcing individuals is who will have custody of their children. This tends to be the most contentious issue for many couples. When this occurs, the parties have to take this matter to court.

Once in court, you will generally hear attorneys and the court refer to the action for child custody as an “allocation of parental rights and responsibilities” or “re-allocation of parental rights and responsibilities.” Child custody matters deal in what is in the best interests of the child(ren). These matters will often require the assistance of psychological experts, counselors and clinicians, who will examine both the parents and child(ren).

When determining the best interests of the child(ren), the court tends to favor shared parenting. However, this does not mean a 50/50 split. Instead, it could mean that the child(ren) primarily reside with one parent, and the other parent sees their child(ren) every other weekend. Visitation (called “parenting time” in Ohio) will be scheduled via the use of a shared parenting plan.

In arriving at how to award parenting time, the court will consider a number of factors, including the mental and physical health of both parents, any reports of domestic violence or abuse, the relationship the child(ren) has with both parents, and the child’s wishes (if the child is old enough).

It is also common in child custody matters for the court to appoint a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) to represent and advocate for the best interests of the child(ren). This person will visit the parents and child(ren) in their home(s), observe their interactions, prepare reports based on their observations, and recommend to the court what they feel would be appropriate in the case.

Who Has Parental Rights in Ohio?

Pursuant to Ohio law, an unmarried mother is automatically the sole residential and legal custodian of her child. Ohio does not grant unmarried fathers legally enforceable rights unless and until a court order is issued acknowledging his parentage. However, unmarried fathers can be granted visitation during the process of establishing paternity.

Once paternity is established, both mothers and fathers are seen as equal when determining the issues surrounding child custody. No preference is given under Ohio law for either party by virtue of being a mother or a father.

In addition to mothers and fathers, legal custody may be granted to other relatives or an unrelated person. This often occurs when the court determines that the best interests of the child is served by awarding legal custody to another because of addiction or abuse issues.

The “Best Interests of the Child” Test in Ohio

Courts in Ohio use a “best interests of the child” standard in determining how to allocate parental rights and responsibilities for the case of a child. The factors used by Ohio courts in determining the best interests of the child include:

  • The wishes of the child’s parents;
  • The child’s wishes;
  • The child’s relationship with the child’s parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interest;
  • The child’s adjustment to the child’s home, school and community;
  • The mental and physical health of all persons involved;
  • The parent more likely to honor and facilitate court-ordered parenting time;
  • Whether either parent has failed to pay child support;
  • The criminal records of either parent or any member of the household of either parent;
  • Whether either parent has denied the other parent subject to a shared parenting decree parenting time;
  • Whether either parent has established a residence, or plans to, outside Ohio.

Ohio Parenting Time

Ohio does not utilize the term “visitation.” Instead, the phrase “parenting time” is used to describe the non-custodial parent’s time with the child. Most counties defer to their local rules to determine what the parenting time for the non-custodial parent.

However, parenting time is not automatic for parents. If there is a history of addiction issues or abusive behavior, the court may deny parenting time or order certain limitations on parenting time.

Shared Parenting in Ohio

Courts in Ohio generally prefer shared parenting (also known as “joint custody”). This is so because cooperative parents who share parental and custodial responsibilities are more likely to produce well-adjusted children.

However, this does not mean a 50/50 split. In this arrangement, the court will attempt to divide parenting time between both parents in a manner that address all of the aspects of parental rights and responsibilities. The terms of this order of the court will be reduced to a shared parenting plan. The terms of this plan are negotiable between the parties, but must be approved by the court.

In determining whether shared parenting is in the child’s best interests, the court will consider the previously listed factors, as well as:

  • The ability of each parent to cooperate and make joint decisions about their children;
  • How well the parent encourages love, affection and contact between the child and other parent;
  • History of child abuse, domestic violence or parental kidnapping;
  • How far each parents lives from each other;
  • Any recommendation of the guardian ad litem (a court-appointed representative that represents the interests of the child)

Shared parenting in Ohio is not automatic. One or both of the parties must file a shared parenting plan with the court that complies with all state and local court rules. The court must also approve the plan and ensure that it meets the best interests of the child.

The shared parenting plan must address the parenting responsibilities that will be shared, as well as a residential plan (where the child will reside during the week), holiday schedule and summer break schedule.

Ohio Child Custody Modifications

While shared parenting plans should be drafted to be followed until the child reaches 18 years old, circumstances can dictate a modification to the shared parenting plan. If a circumstance occurs that impacts the custody order, a parent may file a motion to request a modification to that order. If the court determines that a change in circumstances has occurred that warrants a modification, a new order will be made.

Child Custody Attorney – Columbus and Delaware, Ohio

If you have a child custody matter in Columbus or Delaware, Ohio, contact Johnson Legal, LLC and speak with an experienced Columbus and Delaware, Ohio child custody attorney. Attorney David Johnson of Johnson Legal, LLC will discuss your case and assist you in protecting your rights. Call Johnson Legal, LLC at (614) 987-0192 or send an email to schedule a consultation regarding your child custody matter.