In many divorces, one of the most contentious issues is child custody. At Harrison Alo, Attorneys at Law in Columbus, Ohio, we will represent your interests in child custody actions that are a part of your divorce. We also advise and actively represent parents who are involved in interstate child custody cases. We seek effective modification of agreements according to applicable custody laws.
When parents with minor children are in the process of a divorce, their parental rights and responsibilities must be determined by the court. If the parents can agree on parental rights and responsibilities (“custody”), the agreement must be in writing and presented to the court for approval. If the parents cannot agree, the court must decide what is in the best interest of the children regarding which parent should have primary custody and control of the children, where the children should live and on what schedule the children should be physically exchanged between the parents.
In most divorce cases, one parent or the other is designated as the residential (custodial) parent, and the other parent (the non-residential parent) is granted certain visitation rights, known as parenting time in Ohio. The court will generally issue a parenting time and visitation schedule that indicates when the children are to be in the physical custody of each parent.
If the parents cannot agree, the court will award parental rights and parenting time. Refer to Companionship & Parenting Time Schedules adopted in Franklin County.
A court must consider the best interest of the children when determining allocation of parental rights, and the court is required by law to consider the wishes of the parents, the wishes of the children (assuming the children are old enough to express their wishes and concerns), the mental and physical health of both parties and the children, the interaction of the children with their siblings and others who are involved in the lives of the children, the child’s adjustment to his home, school, and community, and certain other factors. The court is not permitted to discriminate against fathers and there are many cases where a father is designated as the residential (custodial) parent.
The court can also order shared parenting by adopting a Shared Parenting Plan. When shared parenting is ordered, both parents are essentially designated as the residential parent. The main difference between shared parenting and residential/non-residential parenting is that if one parent is designated as the residential parent, that parent has the right to make decisions in situations where parental consent is required. In shared parenting, both parents are required to make joint decisions in the best interest of the children, and neither parent has more rights than the other parent to make important decisions concerning the children. For shared parenting to be successful, both parents must be willing and able to communicate, cooperate and make decisions jointly.
Another feature of shared parenting is that the actual schedule for the parenting time can be more creatively drafted to fit each individual situation. In some shared parenting cases, the children spend equal time with each parent. However, parents can have shared parenting without equal time if some schedule other than an equal time schedule is in the best interest of the children.
It is not necessary for both parents to agree on shared parenting, and shared parenting can be ordered by the court over the objection of one of the parties. However, it must be shown that shared parenting would be in the best interest of the children.