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How Are Child Custody Decisions Made in Ohio Family Law Cases?

 Posted on February 15, 2024 in Family Law

Blog ImageChild custody disputes can be some of the most emotional and challenging aspects of a divorce or separation. In Ohio family law cases, the court's primary concern is always the best interests of the child. When making decisions regarding child custody, Ohio courts consider various factors to determine what arrangement will be most beneficial for the child's overall well-being. A skilled and experienced family law attorney can help you understand these factors and provide you with insight into how child custody decisions are made in Ohio.

Types of Child Custody

In Ohio, there are two general categories of child custody, which are usually referred to as legal custody and physical custody. Parents will usually be able to share both types of custody, although the arrangements put in place will depend on the specific issues involved in an individual case. Legal custody is known as the allocation of parental responsibilities under Ohio law, and it involves the parents' rights to make important decisions regarding their children's upbringing, such as education, healthcare, and religious practices. Physical custody is known as parenting time, visitation, or companionship, and it addresses where a child will primarily reside and when they will spend time in the care of each parent.

The Best Interests of the Child Standard

The "best interests" standard is used by Ohio courts to guide them in determining appropriate custodial arrangements. This standard requires courts to consider what arrangements for the allocation of parental responsibility and parenting time will best promote stability and meet the needs of a couple’s children. To assess a child's best interests thoroughly, courts will evaluate several key factors:

  • The wishes and concerns of both parents: The court considers each parent's desire to have custody and any concerns they may have about their co-parent’s ability to care for the child adequately.

  • The relationship between each parent and the children: The court examines whether either parent has exhibited consistent involvement in their children's lives.

  • The mental, emotional, and physical health of all people involved: Courts consider any issues that could impact a person’s ability to provide proper care for a child.

  • Adjustment potential: The court may assess how well a child has adjusted to their current environment, including their home, the school they attend, and the surrounding community. A judge may also consider whether a child will be able to adjust to a new environment following a divorce or separation.

  • The child's relationships with siblings and extended family members: Courts recognize the importance of maintaining existing familial relationships in a child's life.

  • Each parent’s ability to provide for the child's basic needs: This factor encompasses financial stability and the willingness and ability of parents to meet the child's physical needs.

  • The proximity of each parent’s residence: The distance between parents' homes can impact the feasibility of shared parenting arrangements or visitation schedules.

  • Cooperation between parents: The court may consider which parent is more likely to abide by child custody orders or whether one parent has interfered with the other parent’s parenting time or refused to allow them to have access to the children.

  • Abuse or neglect: If either parent has been convicted of crimes involving child abuse or neglect, sexual abuse, or other offenses in which family members suffered harm, this may affect decisions about child custody, and restrictions may be put in place to protect children’s safety.

The Child's Wishes

In some cases, Ohio courts may also consider a child's wishes when making decisions about child custody arrangements. If the child is mature enough to understand and express their preferences, they may meet with a judge to discuss their concerns and desires. Typically, these types of interviews may be held when children are at least 12 years old, but the approach taken by the court can vary depending on the specific circumstances of a case

Custody Evaluation Process

In more complex custody cases where parents cannot agree on an arrangement privately or through mediation, Ohio courts may order a custody evaluation. An evaluator or guardian ad litem will be appointed by the court to conduct interviews with both parents and the children. They may also meet with other people who are involved in the children’s lives. They will evaluate various factors before making recommendations about child custody arrangements that will provide for the best interests of the children.

Contact Our Wadsworth Child Custody Attorney

If you are involved in a child custody dispute, or if you have questions about how child custody decisions will be made during your divorce, it is crucial to consult with an experienced family law attorney. At The Law Office of Whitney K.S. Miller, LLC, our Summit County child custody lawyer can provide guidance specific to your situation and help you protect your rights as a parent. Contact us at 330-725-4114 for assistance with your child custody matter. We provide free consultations in most cases.

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