Custody Law Firm in Ohio

Given their intimate nature, custody disputes can be enormously complex and emotionally charged. They’re often the most challenging and contentious issues parents must resolve in a divorce. If you and your spouse can’t agree on a custody arrangement before filing your divorce petition, a judge may order you to negotiate the issue in mediation or in the courtroom via litigation. If left to the court, the judge will decide a custody arrangement at their discretion, based on how the relevant laws apply to your circumstances. People may also pursue legal proceedings to resolve custody disputes for children born outside of marriage. 

Inadequate legal representation could risk your parental privileges, so it is important to consult knowledgeable attorneys who are experienced in Ohio’s custody laws. At Haynes Kessler Myers & Postalakis, we can help you pursue a custody arrangement that reflects your parental interests and best serves your child. Whether it’s through collaborative methods, mediation, or litigation, our goal is to help you restructure your family in a way that is beneficial to everyone involved. 

Contact our office to discuss your parental options with our child custody attorneys in Worthington. We serve Northwest Columbus, Westerville, Dublin, and Delaware County.

Ohio Child Custody Arrangements

Ohio law divides custody into parenting time and decision-making authority. Parenting time is the amount of residential time each parent spends with their child. Decision-making authority is the right to make important determinations regarding the child’s medical care, education, and other major life decisions. When courts are left to arrange parenting time or decision-making authority, their order is called an “allocation of parental rights and responsibilities.” Courts may allocate parental rights to one parent in a sole custody arrangement or to both parents in a shared custody arrangement. 

Sole custody is typically reserved for specific circumstances, such as one parent being incarcerated, absent, struggling with drug addiction, or a threat to the safety of the child. 

Shared Custody 

In shared custody situations, the most common arrangement, both parents retain some measure of decision-making authority and residential time. To pursue a shared custody arrangement one or both parents must petition the court and propose a shared parenting plan, outlining potential exchange times, visitation arrangements, residential time schedules, school placement, and other items needed to navigate co-parenting. Parents typically alternate days, but the specific arrangement differs widely from case to case. Under some schedules, parents may evenly split weekdays and alternate weekends; however, others may assign one residential parent for weekdays while still alternating weekends. If the parenting schedule is contested, the court will order adjustments to the schedule as it deems necessary. 

Commonly Asked Questions

Can grandparents or other relatives seek custody or visitation rights in Ohio?

Yes, under certain circumstances, grandparents and other relatives can petition the court for visitation rights or even custody if it is in the best interests of the child. The court will consider the existing relationship between the child and the relative, the wishes of the child's parents, and the mental and physical health of all individuals involved.

What is the difference between shared custody and sole custody in Ohio?

In shared custody, both parents retain decision-making authority and residential time with the child. In sole custody, one parent has primary residential custody and decision-making authority, while the other parent may have visitation rights. Sole custody is typically reserved for specific circumstances such as one parent being absent, incarcerated, or a threat to the child's safety.

Can a custody arrangement be modified in Ohio?

Yes, custody arrangements can be modified in Ohio if there has been a significant change in circumstances or if it is in the best interests of the child. Examples of significant changes may include a parent's relocation, a change in the child's needs, or a change in the parent's ability to care for the child.

The factors a court will consider when determining custody arrangements include (O.R.C. §3109.04(F)(1)-(2)): 

  • Whether the parents desire a sole or shared custody arrangement
  • Whether either side has denied the other’s parental rights
  • The ability of parents to cooperate with one another as far as co-parenting is concerned
  • The relationship each parent has with their child
  • Any history of abuse, violence, or neglect
  • Where each parent resides and plans to reside
  • The needs and best interests of the child
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