Sole Custody vs Joint Custody vs Shared Parenting

Types of Custody Arrangements in a Divorce or Dissolution in Ohio

In Ohio, two types of custody are recognized: sole custody and shared parenting (“joint custody”). The difference between the two arrangements centers on the party or parties who have the right to the legal and physical control of a child.

Sole Custody v. Shared Parenting

Most have a general understanding of sole custody. When granted sole custody, one parent is primarily in control of making decisions for that child, such as medical decisions or where he/she will be enrolled in school. Unless there is a compelling reason to deny it, the other parent is generally afforded parenting time with the child(ren).

With shared parenting, both parents are designated the legal custodian of the minor child(ren). Either parent or both parents may request that the court grant shared-parenting rights and responsibilities for the care of a child. If requested, the parent making the request must submit a proposed plan covering all factors that are relevant to the care of the child, such as the physical living arrangements (parenting time schedule), child support, medical decisions, and health insurance coverage. Generally, a shared parenting plan is characterized by provisions that require the parties to discuss and agree upon major decisions affecting the children, cooperate to co-parent, and generally encourage a positive relationship between the child(ren) and the other parent. The court may then designate both parents the residential parents or legal custodians of the child(ren) and approve and adopt the Shared Parenting Plan as a court order.

Misconceptions about Shared Custody

  1. Shared Parenting does not mean that each parent is entitled to equal parenting time. Often parties incorrectly assume that shared custody requires equal parenting time. While plans that permit equal parenting time may be be beneficial and in the best interests of the child(ren) in some scenarios, this is not always the case. For example, the age of the children, school and work schedules, and the distance between the parents are just a few reasons that the parties (or the court) may elect not to incorporate a 50/50 parenting time schedule.
  2. There is not an automatic credit for child support if you have shared parenting. Ohio law requires that a child support calculation be completed pursuant to specific statutory calculations (referred to as the “Ohio Child Support Guidelines”) regardless of whether one parent is residential parent or shared parenting is granted. See Ohio Revised Code § 3119.002. While a court may grant a deviation from that figure based on various factors, a parent is not automatically entitled to a child support credit as a result of shared custody.

When determining the custody of a minor child, the primary consideration for the court is the best interests of the children. Ohio Revised Code § 3109.04 provides a non-exclusive list of factors to help court determine the best interests of the children, such as the wishes of the parents, the wishes and concerns of the children, the mental and physical health of the parties involved, the child’s adjustment to his/her home, school and community, and the parent more likely to abide by the court-approved parenting orders, criminal background, and other relevant factors.

While Courts generally tend to indicate a preference for granting shared custody, it is not always in the best interests of the children! Ohio Revised Code § 3109.04 additionally provides a non-exclusive list of factors for the court to consider in determining whether shared parenting is in the best interests of the child. These factors include the ability of the parents to cooperate and make decisions jointly, wish respect to the children, history of abuse, proximity, and the ability of each parent to encourage love and respect between the child and the other parent. Depending on your individual situation, shared custody may not be appropriate or feasible.

It is vital that you consult with an experienced domestic relations attorney in order to determine what custody arrangement is best for you and your child(ren). Contact the experienced attorneys at Arenstein & Andersen Co., LPA and set up your free divorce/dissolution consultation.

About Arenstein & Andersen Co., LPA

Arenstein & Andersen Co., LPA is a Dublin, Ohio law firm that provides comprehensive representation in all areas of domestic law including: divorces, dissolutions, annulments, shared parenting plans, and post-decree matters such as child support, alimony, and visitation modifications.