Cleveland Child Custody Lawyer

No divorce is easy. But when you have a child with your soon-to-be-ex, the situation becomes increasingly more challenging. Going from seeing your child every day to fighting for a chance to see them and keeping your right to make important decisions on their behalf can be frustrating and stressful.

When you need help with child custody, child support, or other family law matter, turn to the skilled and compassionate legal team at Slater & Zurz. With over 150 years of collective experience, you can rest assured we will do everything possible to secure the most favorable resolution for both you and your child.

Our child custody lawyers in Cleveland understand how frightening and highly emotional child custody matters are and are dedicated to being here for you throughout every stage of the process. We will be here to offer our heartfelt support and guidance and to also advocate aggressively on your behalf. When experience matters, turn to Slater & Zurz.

Speak to our Cleveland family law attorney. Call (440) 557-2861 or contact Slater & Zurz online.

Types of Child Custody in Ohio

In Ohio, two types of custody are recognized – physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody is where the child will reside most of the time, and legal custody addresses who has the right to make important decisions regarding the child’s upbringing.

Legal and physical custody arrangements can be mutually agreed upon by the child’s parents. However, in cases where parents disagree on the appropriate arrangement, Ohio courts will make the final determination.

Physical Custody

Where the child lives regularly is considered physical custody and can be given solely to one parent or shared between both parents.

Sole Physical Custody

When one parent acts as the child’s primary caregiver, they are said to have sole physical custody of the child and are referred to as the “custodial parent.” In a sole custody situation, the other parent is referred to as the “noncustodial parent’ and is given visitation rights. Sole custody is awarded when it is believed to be in the child’s best interests. This is often the case when one parent has:

  • An addiction to drugs or alcohol
  • A history of violence
  • A history of verbal, emotional, or physical abuse of the child
  • Mental or emotional health issues
  • Doesn’t want custody of the child
  • A conviction of certain felony crimes

Shared Parenting 

Joint custody, commonly referred to as “shared parenting,” on the other hand is a custody arrangement where both parents share the responsibility for the day-to-day care of the child. In a joint custody arrangement, parenting time isn’t necessarily split 50/50. An unequal division of parenting time often occurs when:

  • There is an issue with a parent’s work schedule
  • A significant distance exists between the parents’ geographical locations
  • The child’s age or school schedule limits the division of parenting time

Legal Custody

When a parent has legal custody, they have the right and responsibility to make critical decisions relating to the child’s mental and physical health, education, and general well-being. The decisions include:

  • Where the child lives
  • The school the child attends
  • The child’s doctor, dentist, or other healthcare professionals
  • Medical treatments and procedures
  • Childcare
  • Those related to the mental, emotional, and psychological needs of the child
  • Religious practices
  • The child’s participation in extracurricular activities and sports
  • Vacations and other travel

Sole Legal Custody

In some cases, only one parent is awarded sole legal custody, meaning they alone have the right to make the above decisions on behalf of their child. Sole custody is generally ordered when issues, such as a history of violence, abuse or neglect, mental and emotional health struggles, or child abuse exist.

Joint Legal Custody

When both parents have a say in important decisions made on behalf of the child, they are said to have a joint legal custody or “shared parenting” arrangement. Both parents working together to make these critical decisions are considered ideal. However, if the courts feel a joint legal custody arrangement is not in the child’s best interests, they will likely award sole legal custody.

Learn more about child custody in Cleveland by calling (440) 557-2861 or contacting us online.

Considerations in Cleveland Child Custody Cases

Child custody cases are some of the most contentious and emotionally charged family law matters. Often, parents can’t come to an agreement on their own and require the courts to decide on their behalf.

Under Ohio law, several factors are considered when determining custody, including the:

  • Child’s wishes if they are of a certain age and maturity
  • Parent’s wishes
  • Child’s relationship with both parents
  • Parent’s current role and involvement in the child’s life
  • Child’s safety and well-being
  • Child’s anticipated adjustment to their new home, school, and community
  • Relationship to their siblings and others who reside in each parent’s homes
  • The ability of both parents to cooperate
  • Each parent’s willingness to facilitate and encourage the child’s relationship with the other parent
  • Any past prevention of visitation rights
  • Any history of domestic violence, child abuse or neglect, and substance abuse

Custody Rights for Unwed Mothers in Ohio

In Ohio, an unwed mother never has to file for custody. Per Ohio Revised Code 3109.042, an unmarried woman who gives birth to a child is automatically granted sole physical and legal custody of that child. This will remain the case until the child’s father establishes paternity and files a motion with the court to modify custody.

In the past, many felt the courts favored the mother in these situations. However, that is no longer true. When there is a custody matter between unwed parents, the courts will ultimately decide on an arrangement based on the child’s best interests, not based on the parent’s gender.

Modifying an Existing Cleveland Child Custody Order

When the child’s needs or either parent’s circumstances change, often there is a need to modify the established custody arrangement. In these cases, either parent can request child custody modification by filing a motion to modify with the Cleveland domestic relations court.

If the court finds the change is in the child’s best interests, they will order a change of either or both physical or legal custody. We encourage you to reach out to our Cleveland child support modification attorneys to learn more.

Call today for your confidential consultation. (440) 557-2861

Frequently Asked Questions About Ohio Child Custody

Several factors can impact the court’s decisions relating to both physical and legal child custody. These include:

  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • A history of domestic violence
  • Child neglect or abuse
  • Certain felony convictions

If any of these apply to your situation, it doesn’t automatically mean you will be denied custody of your children. However, these factors will make it more difficult.

Typically, no. Although the judge will take your child’s wishes into consideration, those wishes will not be the determining factor. The courts look after the child’s best interests and consider the child’s needs, the parent’s wishes, the child’s ties to their family members, each parent’s stability, and their willingness to facilitate the child’s relationship with their other parent.
An Ohio child support order will stay in place until the child reaches 18, is emancipated, or the order is legally modified. If parents wish to change the order, they can file a request to modify custody. If a significant change in circumstances has occurred, such as a change in the child’s needs, a parent’s physical or mental health, or a parent’s financial situation, the courts will likely grant a modification.

Consult with a Leading Child Custody Attorney in Cleveland, Ohio

Child custody matters are some of the most emotional and contentious issues relating to legal separation and divorce. The ability to make important decisions regarding your child’s upbringing and spend time with your child is suddenly in jeopardy, leaving you feeling helpless and scared.

When you are facing a child custody battle or would like to change an existing child custody order, turn to the experienced and dedicated family law attorneys at Slater & Zurz. For over 30 years, we have helped parents secure the resolution they need in their child custody, child support, and other divorce-related matters.

Our team of skilled child custody lawyers in Cleveland fully understands the repercussions of child custody arrangements and fights hard to get you the result you and your child deserve. To learn more about how we can help you establish or modify a child custody order in Ohio, call (440) 557-2861 today to arrange a confidential consultation with one of our skilled child custody lawyers in Cleveland.