Canton Child Custody Lawyer

During a divorce or separation, one of the first things parents worry about is what will happen to their kids. Discussing child custody and visitation can be challenging, even if you are on amicable terms with a co-parent. Undoubtedly, you want what is in the best interest of your child. Our Canton child custody lawyers can help you understand and protect your rights concerning your children.

At Slater & Zurz, we have been helping families resolve child custody matters for over 30 years. We understand that these are often complex issues that can become contentious. Our attorneys have a successful record of achieving favorable results on behalf of our clients. If you want to discuss your parental rights, contact our Canton child custody lawyers at (330) 968-2547 for a consultation.

Ohio Child Custody Laws

Under Ohio Revised Code section 3109.04, a court has the right to allocate “parental rights and responsibilities for the care of the minor children of the marriage.” In Ohio, custody, and visitation are considered part of parental rights and responsibilities.

According to this code, the court will review several matters, including:

  • A shared parenting plan if one has been filed;
  • Which parent should be designated as the residential parent and legal custodian of the child;
  • Responsibility for providing support for the child or children;
  • Visitation rights for the non-residential parent; and
  • Whether a guardian ad litem should be appointed.

Ohio has moved away from solely assigning custody or visitation. Instead of assigning sole or joint custody, the court allocates parental rights and responsibilities by adopting a shared parenting plan, designating a residential parent and legal custodian, and allocating parenting time to a nonresidential parent. In any child custody order, the court will always make decisions based on what it feels is in the child’s best interest.

To learn more about how Ohio courts allocate parental rights and responsibilities, contact our office at (330) 968-2547 to speak with a Canton child custody lawyer.

Best Interest of the Child

In any divorce or legal separation proceedings, a court will determine child custody based on what is in the best interest of the child.

Factors used to determine what is in the best interest of the child:

  • Parent’s wishes
  • Child’s concerns and wishes
  • Child’s interaction and interrelationship with parents, siblings, and other individuals
  • Child’s adjustment to home, school, and community
  • Mental and physical health of all parties
  • Which parent is most likely to honor and facilitate court-approved parenting time rights or visitation, including whether a parent has “continuously and willfully denied parenting time.”
  • Whether a parent failed to make child support payments
  • Any criminal history of child abuse, neglect, domestic violence, or sexual offenses.
  • Whether a parent lives or is planning to relocate out of state

It is not uncommon for parents to disagree about what is in the best interest of their child, particularly if they are in the middle of a divorce or legal separation.

Our Canton child custody lawyers can help you understand what the courts will look for when deciding custody issues. Our attorneys know that these matters can be emotionally charged; let us help you protect your rights and children’s rights.

Understanding Shared Parenting

Instead of joint custody, Ohio will often use the term “shared parenting” to define when both parents have some responsibility for their children’s physical and legal care. Contrary to popular belief, shared parenting does not mean that each parent shares equal time or physical custody of a child. It also does not mean that child support will be reduced. Child support and child custody are two separate issues.

Shared parenting, however, does allow parents to each have the right to make decisions regarding their children’s health and well-being. If shared parenting is awarded, parents must make joint decisions about their child’s education, religion, and health care. 

Factors Used to Determine Shared Parenting

A court will consider several issues when determining whether a shared parenting plan is in the child’s best interest.

According to the statute, a court will look at factors such as:

  • The parent’s ability to cooperate and make joint decisions related to their children;
  • The ability of each parent to share love, affection, and contact between the child and the other parent;
  • The geographic proximity of the parents to each other;
  • Any history or potential for child abuse, spousal abuse, domestic violence, or parental kidnapping; and
  • Any recommendation of a guardian ad litem.

The goal in a shared parenting plan is for both parents to have “frequent and continuing contact with the child” unless that would not be in their best interest.

If you are considering filing for custody, you need to know your rights. Contact our Canton child custody lawyers at (330) 968-2547 to schedule a consultation.

Parenting Time for Non-Residential Parents

Parents who are not residential parents or designated as the legal custodian will usually be granted parenting time (formerly referred to as visitation) with the child.

In determining whether to grant parenting time, the court will consider:

  • Prior interaction and interrelationships of the child with family members and others;
  • Geographical location;
  • Child’s and parents’ available time, including their employment schedule, school schedule, child’s and parents’ holiday and vacation schedule;
  • Age of the child;
  • The child’s adjustment to home, school, and community;
  • Child’s wishes
  • Health and safety of the child;
  • Amount of time available to spend with siblings;
  • Mental and physical health of all parties;
  • Parents’ willingness to reschedule missed parenting time and to facilitate other parent’s parenting time rights;
  • Instances of child abuse or neglect;
  • Continuous or willful denial of another parent’s right to parenting time; and
  • Whether the parent resides in another state or is planning to relocate.

The court will only determine regarding parenting time if it is in the child’s best interest.

Child Custody Modifications

Under limited circumstances, the court may agree to a modification of a custody agreement. For instance, the court will consider a modification where there are facts unknown at the time of the prior court order.

In addition, the court may consider where there has been a substantial change in circumstance of the child, the child’s residential parent, or either parent when there is a shared parenting decree.

Retaining the Designated Residential Parent

In general, the court will retain the residential parent designated in the prior order unless the modification is in the child’s best interest and the residential parent agrees to a change or both parents under a shared parenting agreement consent to the change in designation.

Furthermore, the court will consider whether the child has been integrated into the family of the new residential parent and if the advantages of a change in environment outweigh the harm.

If you have a child custody arrangement in place but seek a modification, it is usually in your best interest to consult an attorney. Call our office at (330) 968-2547 to discuss your legal options with a Canton child custody lawyer today.

Temporary Child Custody Orders

The court may issue temporary custody orders while the action is pending. To achieve this, the court may assign an interim order to allocate parental rights and responsibilities. In the order, the court may designate parenting time, visitation rights, or temporary custody until a final decree is signed.

Protecting Your Child’s Future

At Slater & Zurz, we are committed to helping you protect your child’s future. We will work tirelessly to ensure that your interests are represented throughout the custody proceedings. We know that these matters can be complicated and are often heavily disputed. With over a century of collective legal experience, our Canton child custody lawyers understand what it takes to prevail.

If you are in the middle of a custody dispute, it is important to maintain your relationship with your child or children. Contact our office as soon as possible to discuss your parental rights and how to pursue custody or visitation. Whether you are seeking to establish custody, modify an existing order, or secure visitation, we can help.

Compassionate Representation for Child Custody Matters

Get the dedicated, compassionate representation you deserve. Call our office today at (330) 968-2547 for a no-obligation consultation in regard to your child custody or family law matter. Our Canton child custody lawyers will review your case and determine the best legal action.

At Slater and Zurz, we believe in relentless advocacy for our clients. Our family law attorneys take a client-focused approach to every case, ensuring that all of your concerns are addressed and handled. Get experienced legal counsel when you need it most.

Contact our office for a confidential case evaluation. We proudly represent clients in Canton and the surrounding areas.