What Ohio Law Says About “Best Interests of the Child” in Determining Child Custody

Any time that child custody is at issue in Ohio, the magistrate or judge must consider what is in the best interests of the child or children.  The phrase “Best Interest of the Child” is strewn throughout the Ohio Revised Code sections that deal with child custody, or as the law calls it “Allocation of parental rights and responsibilities.”  This legal analysis is well known by lawyers and judges but sparsely understood by parents entering the legal system to resolve disputes.

child custody in Ohio

It is important to understand how the family law statutes operate in everyday reality.  All determinations of custody must be determined with the Ohio Revised Code (O.R.C.) and it can be a very tedious process to get through as a parent.  Below is a citation in the relevant part of the statute that governs custody determinations:

3109.04 Allocating parental rights and responsibilities for the care of children – shared parenting.

(F)(1) In determining the best interest of a child pursuant to this section, whether on an original decree allocating parental rights and responsibilities for the care of children or a modification of a decree allocating those rights and responsibilities, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including, but not limited to:

(a) The wishes of the child’s parents regarding the child’s care;

(b) If the court has interviewed the child in chambers pursuant to division (B) of this section regarding the child’s wishes and concerns as to the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities concerning the child, the wishes and concerns of the child, as expressed to the court;

(c) The child’s interaction and interrelationship with the child’s parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interest;

(d) The child’s adjustment to the child’s home, school, and community;

(e) The mental and physical health of all persons involved in the situation;

(f) The parent more likely to honor and facilitate court-approved parenting time rights or visitation and companionship rights;

(g) Whether either parent has failed to make all child support payments, including all arrearages, that are required of that parent pursuant to a child support order under which that parent is an obligor;

(h) Whether either parent or any member of the household of either parent previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to any criminal offense involving any act that resulted in a child being an abused child or a neglected child; whether either parent, in a case in which a child has been adjudicated an abused child or a neglected child, previously has been determined to be the perpetrator of the abusive or neglectful act that is the basis of an adjudication; whether either parent or any member of the household of either parent previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to a violation of section 2919.25 of the Revised Code or a sexually oriented offense involving a victim who at the time of the commission of the offense was a member of the family or household that is the subject of the current proceeding; whether either parent or any member of the household of either parent previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to any offense involving a victim who at the time of the commission of the offense was a member of the family or household that is the subject of the current proceeding and caused physical harm to the victim in the commission of the offense; and whether there is reason to believe that either parent has acted in a manner resulting in a child being an abused child or a neglected child;

(i) Whether the residential parent or one of the parents subject to a shared parenting decree has continuously and willfully denied the other parent’s right to parenting time in accordance with an order of the court;

(j) Whether either parent has established a residence, or is planning to establish a residence, outside this state.

Strife within your family is likely the most difficult of all life’s dealings.  If custody of your child becomes an issue, it is advisable to contact a Family Law Attorney with proven experience in the arena of family law.  Please call Slater & Zurz at 1-800-297-9191 or send us a message.  We can set up a time to meet and handle all of your domestic relations matters.