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Our Cleveland OH Attorneys Outline FAQ’s About Children and Divorce in Ohio

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In divorce cases, no laws are more important than those that involve the care and welfare of minor children. Anyone who is considering a divorce or dissolution and who is also caring for minor children should become familiar with the laws of the state of Ohio that govern children and divorce.

What is sole custody?

Ohio recognizes two types of custody arrangements: sole custody and shared parenting. With sole custody, one parent is designated the residential parent and legal custodian of the child.  He or she is responsible for the primary decisions about a child’s welfare, such as education, medical treatment, and religious issues. The child’s primary residence is with the custodial parent. The non-custodial parent does not have decision-making rights, but does have visitation rights (called “parenting time”) as well as access to the child’s records.

What is shared parenting?

Ohio also recognizes a custodial arrangement in which both parents have joint physical and legal custody, once known as joint custody, but now called shared parenting. The child lives in both households, although the time spent in each household may not be equal.  The most important difference between this arrangement and sole custody is that with shared parenting, both parents share all or most of the decision-making with respect to the minor children.  In order to achieve shared parenting, a document called a shared parenting plan must be submitted to the court, and the court will decide if the shared parenting plan is in the child’s best interests.  Note that, even when the parties have shared parenting, one of the parents will typically be designated the residential parent of the child for school purposes.  That means that the child will normally attend school in the school district in which that parent resides.  It does not otherwise affect the joint decision-making of the parents.

How are a child’s “best interests” determined?

“Best interests” is decided by such factors as:

  • the nature of the relationship the child has with each parent, and with siblings, grandparents, and others
  • whether either parent has tried to interfere with the child’s relationship with the other parent
  • the wishes of the child; however, a child, no matter how old, does not have the right to decide where he or she will live; if the child is sufficiently mature, the court may take the child’s wishes into account
  • whether the child would have to make difficult adjustments, such as adapting to new or challenging locations or circumstances
  • mental/physical health issues of either parent or the child
  • criminal record of either parent

If you are contemplating divorce or dissolution of your marriage, and have any questions regarding minor children, you can contact our experienced divorce attorneys in Chardon and Cleveland, Ohio, to answer your questions about how a divorce will affect your relationship with your children. Your family law attorney in Cleveland can answer questions about child support, custody, visitation, and other legal issues concerning children and divorce.