If you and your co-parent are going separate ways, you must determine how you will handle the custody and care of your children. Even if the two of you seem to be on the same page, discussions about these issues can get heated and emotional.
Courts require parents to develop a plan for child custody and parenting time. Once a court approves the plan, it is a legally enforceable document, and a parent must go to court to make any changes. If they cannot construct a realistic and workable plan, they must litigate the issue and a court will decide what is best for the child.
A Toledo child custody lawyer understands how challenging these conversations can be and how necessary they are for the well-being of parents and children. A local family attorney also understands what the law requires and how you can arrive at an arrangement that works for your family.
When making child custody decisions, judges in Ohio may not favor one parent over the other based on gender or income. Instead, the judge must choose the arrangement that is in the best interest of the child. A Toledo child custody attorney could explain the various factors a judge must consider in determining a child’s best interest.
There are certain assumptions at play in custody decisions. Judges assume that it is in a child’s best interest to maintain a meaningful relationship with both parents and that both parents want to maintain a relationship with their child. Therefore, judges favor either shared custody or physical custody with one parent and substantial parenting time for the non-custodial parent. However, the judge also must consider the parents’ wishes and circumstances, the child’s opinion if they are old enough to express it, and the view of the Guardian ad Litem if one has been appointed.
In these arrangements, described in Ohio Revised Statutes § 3109.04 (A), parents share decision-making authority and split physical custody roughly 50/50. Joint custody allows children to have significant meaningful contact with both parents.
In these arrangements, the child spends most of the time in one parent’s home and has scheduled time with the other parent. The parenting time can be extensive and involve overnight or even multi-day visits, or it could be limited to a few hours of supervised visitation on an occasional basis. This arrangement works well when one parent’s job responsibilities or living situation do not allow them to provide a home to the child on a regular basis.
In a sole custody arrangement, one parent has physical custody and sole decision-making authority, and the other parent has no right to parenting time. Courts tend to award sole custody only if one parent is unfit. The unfitness must be relevant to the child’s safety, such as when a parent has:
Courts will sometimes grant temporary custody to a non-parent, such as a grandparent, older sibling, aunt, uncle, or family friend. These arrangements give the parents time to establish a home and means of supporting the child. Courts usually award temporary custody for one year and may allow two six-month extensions. If a parent is unable to care for the child after two years, the court will seek a permanent custody arrangement with the relative or an out-of-home placement which could lead to adoption.
If parents cannot reach an agreement, they might need to ask a court to decide what arrangement is in their child’s best interest. Child custody battles are sometimes ugly, which is why courts often require parents to take further steps to reach an agreement on their own before a judicial intervention. The court might direct parents to take classes in dispute resolution or safe parenting or could order them to enter mediation to develop a workable solution.
As a last resort, courts will hear evidence supporting each parent’s desires regarding custody and the reasons supporting their desires. If a matter goes to court, a child custody lawyer in Toledo could vigorously advocate for a parent’s wishes.
If you and your ex disagree about child custody, you might be going through a lot of emotional turmoil. You need guidance from a professional with a clear head and a deep understanding of custody law.
A Toledo child custody lawyer has the skills to help you reach a workable arrangement with your co-parent. If that is not possible, they could be a fierce advocate in court. Call today to speak with a compassionate legal professional.