Columbus Child Custody and Visitation Attorneys
It can be a nasty process when a relationship ends, and it gets more complicated when it comes to the custody of any children involved. Several factors play into which parent may be awarded sole custody or if Shared Parenting (joint custody) is in the children’s best interests. A family law attorney explaining your child custody rights helps secure the best possible custody and visitation arrangement after a divorce or the end of the relationship if you were not married.
Arenstein and Andersen, Co., LPA is here to help you navigate Ohio custody law and figure out what steps you need to take. Reach out at (614) 602-6550 or online to create a mutually beneficial childcare plan today.
Ohio Child Custody Laws
Ohio laws no longer use the term “custody.” Instead, courts establish parental rights and responsibilities to parents for the care of their children. With a custody order, either one parent is designated as the sole legal custodian and the other parent is granted parenting time or the parents are both designated as the legal custodians of the minor child pursuant to a shared parenting plan that sets forth a parenting time schedule.
For “decision-making” rights, either one or both parents will have input on major decisions such as school-related matters, medical, and legal decisions on the child’s behalf. If one parent is granted the decision-making right, they retain “sole legal custody” of the child and make those decisions. If “shared parenting” is granted, then both parents are responsible for making these decisions jointly.
Parents will also be assigned “parenting time” with the minor child pursuant to a specified schedule that is either agreed upon by the parties or ordered by the Court. Parents may equally share the child’s physical custody, or one parent may be awarded primary physical custody of the child. There are numerous parenting time schedules that are commonly used depending on what makes the most sense for your family given various factors. Consulting with an attorney may help guide you in determining a custody arrangement and parenting time schedule that is in the best interest of your children.
Parenting time/Visitation Rights
In Ohio, parents are allowed time to spend time with their children even if they do not have “sole custody.” Most courts have proposed model parenting time schedules, which include minimum visitation expectations. However, the courts recognize that every situation is unique and can issue orders that reflect this and serve the best interests of the children. The Court may also grant less time or place specific restrictions on a parent’s access and time with their child if it is demonstrated that there is a threat to the child’s physical, mental, or emotional well-being.
Parents with a history of drug abuse or domestic violence may not be completely denied parenting time, but the Court may restrict their visits or require supervision.
Parents who withhold court ordered visitation of the children from the other parent could face contempt charges. This could result in the custodial rights or parenting time of parent preventing visits being taken away or reduced. The court will consider how willing each parent is to help the other parent visit the children when custody rights and a visitation schedule are being decided.
How Are Parental Rights Decided?
The children’s best interest is the main point a court will consider when it comes to parental rights. Ohio has set forth numerous factors for a court to consider when making a determination as to the best interests of minor children. A judge may consider the parents’ wishes, the circumstances, and evidence to see who can provide a safe and stable environment for any children involved. The court has the ability to weigh one or more of these factors more heavily than another.
In some cases, the children’s wishes can influence the court’s decision. The judge will typically account for the children’s age and maturity. There is not a set age in which a child can choose which parent he or she wants to live with.
A parent’s employment, mental and physical health, housing arrangements, and interaction with their children can influence a judge’s decision over parental rights. If granting one parent sole custody over the other is likely to disrupt a child’s wellbeing or take them from their community, a judge may not grant it.
Any parental history of domestic violence, especially any convictions or guilty pleas involving the family members, will also likely influence a judge when making decisions.
Can Child Custody be Changed?
A child custody order will remain in place until the child turns 18 or is emancipated. However, parents can modify custody if they can prove a significant change has occurred or by agreement.
As with the original custody order, the child’s best interest is paramount in a custody modification decision. A parent with sole custody who is moving across the country may be unable to maintain a similar parenting time schedule with the other parent and may find that the child cannot continue to maintain a primary residence with the moving parent. If you feel as though your current custody orders are no longer in the best interests of your children, you may want to consult with an attorney in order to determine whether a modification is appropriate.
In many cases involving child custody, there is also the matter of child support. In Ohio, child support is determined by a calculation that uses the parents’ respective income, premiums for health insurance, costs for childcare, and time spent with each parent. This calculation is summarized in a child support worksheet. A child support worksheet is required to be created in every case involving minor children. However, parents may agree or argue to modify or deviate from the child support figures determined by this calculation.
Other factors, like employment, how often a child stays with either parent or the number of children involved, and expenses for the child can affect the final amount awarded. Because the child support worksheets do not take these various considerations into account, it is important to understand factor that may justify an order for more or less child support than what is reflected in this worksheet.
Turn to Arenstein & Andersen, Co., LPA for Help
Whether in a divorce or contested custody matter, determining orders that affect your children and custodial rights can be confusing and contentious. Having an experienced child custody lawyer to argue your case gives you a better chance of asserting your parental rights and protecting your children.
The attorneys at Arenstein & Andersen, Co., LPA will help you navigate the hearings and decisions that come with a custody matter and advocate for you and your children’s best interests at every stage.