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Ohio Child Custody
Child Custody in Ohio

Ohio Revised Code Section 3109.04 provides that the parents may share parenting when the court finds it in the best interests of the child. The court allocates the parental rights and responsibilities by considering relevant factors.

As always, the best interests of the child remain the first priority of the court in Ohio, but specific factors come into play when the court analyzes each situation. These include the overall mental and physical health of the parents and child and the determination of the parent who will best promote reasonable and regular visitation with the non-custodial parent.

The parent most capable of nurturing and caring for the child after divorce and the one in good physical and mental health with a sincere desire to be the child's caretaker is most likely to gain physical custody.

The Ohio courts need evidence that the parent desiring primary custody can provide care for the child. For instance, if the parent lives with a person who is dangerous to the child, the risk damages the parent's chance of gaining custody.

Ohio courts favor the parent more likely to encourage visits with the non-custodial parent, so that the bond between the child and both parents is maintained. The court is prohibited from considering either parent's financial condition or resources as a basis for awarding custody.

In Ohio, the judge may interview the child about his or her preference, but the childs choice does not decide custody. Ohio law permits a judge to interview a child of any age in chambers to determine the childs preferences.

According to the Ohio Revised Code Section 3109.04(F)(1), the best interest of the child includes:

  • the child's preference;
  • whether either parent is planning to relocate out of state;
  • the health of the parents and the child;
  • the child's relationship with each parent, and
  • any history of abuse.

The court may also consider additional factors found in Section 3109.04(F)(2) if the parents are seeking joint custody. These include:

  • the distance between each parent's residence,
  • parental cooperation in raising the child, and
  • maintenance of a loving relationship with the other parent.

Ohio child custody laws provide a uniform process for child custody. The laws lessen conflict in cases involving child custody and achieve consistency with greater frequency.

According to Section 3109.04(E)(1), the court does not modify a custody order unless the parent seeking modification can demonstrate a change in circumstances since the original order was issued and that changing the child's environment would be more beneficial than harmful.

Divorcing parents are strongly encouraged to cooperatively work out the details of how they should be able to raise their child after divorce. When parents agree on their parenting plan, their cooperation reflects their willingness to provide for their children. This strengthens the parent-child relationship even after divorce. If disputes and disagreements arise, the court intervenes.

Under child custody laws in Ohio, the parents should submit a parenting plan. In this way, the court can consider joint parenting after reviewing the parents resolution. If the parents were unable to submit their parenting plan, the court shall award one parent as residential parent and legal custodian.

In awarding custody, the court considers:

  • the childs wishes or preferences provided that he or she is mature enough to make such preferences;
  • the childs relationship with his/her parents, siblings, and other family members;
  • the childs ability to adjust to his/her community, home, and school;
  • the childs needs, such as dental and medical insurance, and the ability of the parents to provide those needs;
  • the parents willingness to encourage a continuing relationship between the child and the other parent;
  • the parents wishes or preferences as to custody;
  • the parents geographic proximity as it affects future availability;
  • the parents ability to cooperate and make joint decisions on childrearing;
  • the mental or physical health of the parties involved in the proceedings; and
  • any history of domestic violence, child abuse, negligence, or substance abuse.

Mandatory Parenting Class

Ohio courts often require all divorcing parents with minor children to complete a mandatory parenting class before granting a divorce. This requirement is designed to help parents and children deal with the trauma of divorce and separation. Unless the court grants a waiver, both parents must typically complete this requirement. Rather than give up an afternoon or evening taking your course in a crowded classroom, you can fulfill this requirement conveniently online at a very reasonable cost. We recommend you take Children in Between Online" to fulfill your court requirement and for the benefit of your children.

Joint Custody Preference

Ohio law expresses a preference for parents to share as equally as possible in the custody of a child in a divorce case. Ohio child custody laws have set the factors, as previously mentioned, in order to evaluate the nature of parent-child relationship and whether or not joint custody, which means shared parenting, is plausible.

Ohio permits parents to develop their own joint custody plan. The parents delineate their own preferences in regard to child custody and visitation, and the court reviews the plan.

The court does grant significant latitude to the parents in developing their own joint custody plan when determining child custody in a divorce, legal separation or paternity case.

Parental Conduct

In addition to finding a parent unfit because of substance abuse or abuse or neglect towards a child, the courts also consider the conduct of both parents during the course of the marriage, and the impact of parental behavior on the child.

In Ohio, a parent or parents convicted of a felony and sentenced to prison time will likely not receive custody of the child after being released.

A parent that has been arrested for child abuse, neglect or molestation will not be awarded custody of the child, and he or she will only be able to see the child during supervised visitation with a social worker.

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