Child Custody FAQs

Here are some of the most common questions we are asked about child custody:

Q: What are the different child custody arrangements in Ohio?

A: Ohio typically allocates parental rights and responsibilities in one of two main ways:

  • Sole residential — The child physically resides with one parent who handles the day-to-day child rearing and the other parent has visitation rights.
  • Shared parenting — Both parents share residential custody as well as the day-to-day child-rearing responsibilities. This arrangement does not necessarily mean an equal split in the time the child resides with each parent.

Courts may award joint legal custody to both parents in either of the above arrangements. This means they are both instrumental in decision-making for the child. This includes health, educational and religious decisions.

Q: How does the court decide who gets custody?

A: Child custody determinations are made by reviewing many factors. When deciding if a co-parenting arrangement is the best option, the court must determine whether both parents can cooperate in order to make joint parenting decisions. Their ability to speak positively about one another to the child and encourage support and contact are also important. A history of abuse or kidnapping would deter this type of arrangement.

Q: How old does my child have to be for the court to consider his/her wishes for custody arrangements?

A: There is no specific age under Ohio law that allows a child to determine his/her living arrangements. Custody is determined by considering several factors, which include the wishes of the child and of the parents. Other pertinent criteria include the physical and mental health of all parties; the child's adjustment to school, community and home; the relationships of the child with parents, siblings and other significant others; the ability of the parents to work together and honor parenting plan arrangements; and child support payment issues.

Q: What is a shared parenting plan?

A: In Ohio, determining custody arrangements is known as allocating parental rights and responsibilities. In order to make this determination, the court needs to know how the parents cooperate and their ability to work together to parent the child and put his/her best interests first. Parents demonstrate this by creating a schedule for the time their child will spend with each parent. The parenting plan also addresses how decisions will be made and how disputes will be settled. The plan should be tailored to the specific circumstances of the parents and child and address as many contingencies and potential issues as possible.

Q: Are custody arrangements handled differently if the parents are not married?

A: There are some differences when determining parenting responsibilities for married and unmarried parents. An unmarried mother has sole custody of her child at birth. If the father wants shared parenting, he must file a motion in an Ohio juvenile court. In a divorce proceeding, there is no automatic default custody arrangement, and a motion for custody is part of the divorce case, filed in an Ohio domestic relations court.

At Laubacher & Co., we understand the complexities of Ohio's child custody laws. If you are a parent facing divorce, contact one of our seasoned family law attorneys to help guide you through this complex legal area.