Area of Law:
When a couple divorces and there is a minor child involved, the divorce decree will specify who has physical custody as well as legal custody of the child. Physical custody determines where and with whom the child will live. Legal custody specifies who has the legal right to make important decisions about the child related to issues such as education, religion, medical issues, and discipline. Spouses often reach an agreement regarding child custody on their own, but if they do not, an Ohio court will intervene and establish custody arrangements based on the best interests of the child. Divorcesource.com provides a complete summary of divorce and custody laws in the state of Ohio.
There are typically several different custody arrangements that may be made for children of divorced parents. In most cases, courts will award physical custody to one parent with whom the child will live most of the time. The parent with physical custody, or the custodial parent, often shares legal custody, or the right to make decisions regarding the child, with the non-custodial parent. Many child custody arrangements involve joint custody in which the child spends a relatively equal amount of time with each parent.
Under Ohio law, the court will make child custody decisions, with are referred to as the "allocation of parental rights and responsibilities for the care of the minor children of the marriage," based on the best interests of the child. In allocating parental rights and responsibilities, Ohio courts will typically consider the following factors:
- The wishes of the child's parents regarding the child's care
- The wishes and concerns of the child as expressed to the court
- The child's interaction and interrelationship with his or her parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interest
- The child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community
- The mental and physical health of all persons involved in the situation
- The parent who is more likely to honor and facilitate court-approved parenting-time rights for visitation and companionship rights
- Whether either parent has failed to make all child support payments
- Whether either parent has been convicted of or a has been a perpetrator of child abuse or neglect
- Whether one parent has continuously denied the other parent visitation rights
- Whether either parent lives or plans to move out of state
In Ohio, joint custody is known as "shared parenting." When awarding shared parenting, Ohio courts must take into account additional factors to determine whether such an award is in the best interest of the child. These factors include the following:
- The ability of the parents to cooperate and make decisions jointly with respect to the child
- The ability of each parent to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other parent
- Any history of or potential for child abuse, spouse abuse, other domestic violence, or parental kidnapping by either parent
- Whether shared parenting is geographically feasible
- The recommendation of the guardian ad litem of the child if the child has a guardian ad litem
For a comprehensive overview of divorce and shared parenting in the state of Ohio, go to lawyers.com.