Fewer things are more stressful than fighting to retain or establish custody of your child. Although divorce and child custody often go hand in hand, there are several circumstances where parents may face a child custody matter, such as establishing custody as an unwed parent or modifying an existing custody arrangement.
If you are currently facing a child custody battle, you are likely searching for answers. This article covers what you need to know about Ohio child custody and answers some of the most frequently asked questions.
If you need help with a child custody matter, we encourage you to reach out to the dedicated team of child custody lawyers at Slater & Zurz. Whether you need to establish child custody or modify an existing child custody order, our family law attorneys can help. Get the help you need by calling (330) 762-0700 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
Child Custody in Ohio
When many of us think of child custody, we think of the time a parent gets to spend with their child. However, child custody involves much more than that.
In Ohio, child custody is increasingly referred to as “parental rights and responsibilities,” though many of us still use the term “custody.” There are two notable elements of child custody. Although custody addresses the amount of time parents spend with their child, which is often called “parenting time,” it also establishes the legal right for parents to make decisions on their child’s behalf. Below, we will explain these two elements of child custody in further detail.
As part of a child custody agreement, either parents or the court determine parenting time or the time spent residing with each parent. There are two types of physical custody; joint physical custody and sole physical custody.
Shared parenting or joint physical custody is an arrangement where both parents share in their child’s day-to-day care. Joint physical custody does not necessarily mean there is an equal division of parenting time, where the child will spend 50% of the time with one parent and 50% with the other. Several factors may create the need for an unequal distribution of parenting time. These factors include:
- Each parent’s work schedule
- The living arrangement of each parent
- Whether the parents’ homes are close to one another
- The child’s school schedule
- The wishes of the child and parents
- The mental and physical health of the child and parents
- The willingness of the parents to co-parent effectively
Akron courts prefer joint physical custody arrangements, as they typically believe it is in the child’s best interest to maintain a close relationship with each parent. However, there are situations when courts award physical custody to only one parent, known as sole physical custody.
Sole Physical Custody
When a parent is granted sole physical custody of their child, they are primarily responsible for their child’s day-to-day upbringing. The parent with most of the physical custody is known as the “custodial parent.” The other parent, known as the “non-custodial parent,” is typically awarded visitation rights, a set schedule of time they spend with their child.
Sole physical custody is awarded when one parent:
- Is addicted to drugs or alcohol
- Has a history of violence
- Has a history of verbal, emotional, or physical abuse of the child
- Is dealing with mental or emotional health issues
- Doesn’t want custody of the child
- Has been convicted of certain felony crimes
Legal custody means a parent has the right to make decisions on behalf of their child. Parents with legal custody have a say in the following:
- Where their child resides
- The school they attend
- Their religious practices
- Who provides their medical and dental care
- The medical treatment they receive
- Their childcare
- Addressing their mental, emotional, and psychological needs
- Their participation in sports and other extracurricular activities
- Vacation and other travel
Join Legal Custody
When both parents are given the right to make these decisions, they are said to have joint legal custody of their child. As with physical custody, Akron courts believe it is in the child’s best interests for parents to have a say in their child’s life jointly. However, if a judge feels a joint arrangement is not ideal, they will consider a sole legal custody arrangement.
Sole Legal Custody
In some cases, only one parent is given the right to decide their child’s upbringing. Known as sole legal custody, this arrangement is considered when one parent is determined to be unfit to make decisions on their child’s behalf. Sole legal custody is commonly awarded when a parent has a history of drug or alcohol abuse, past child abuse, domestic violence, or mental or emotional health issues.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Ohio courts favor mothers in child custody battles?
Although it is a common misconception, courts do not favor the mother when determining child custody. Judges solely assess what they feel is in the child’s best interests and award custody to the parent or parents based on what will best support the child’s health and well-being.
Does my child have a right to decide who they live with?
Many parents believe the courts will base parenting time solely on the child’s wishes if they are of a certain age and maturity. However, Ohio does not allow minors to choose who they want to live with. Though their wishes will be given some consideration, it is one of several factors that come into play when awarding physical custody.
Can I modify my child custody order?
Yes. Parents can ask the courts to modify an existing order should there be an unanticipated change in circumstances. Factors that can lead to a child custody modification include but are not limited to the relocation of a parent, the refusal to comply with the existing arrangement, a change in the child’s needs, or a change in the parent’s situation.
Speak to a Top Child Custody Lawyer in Akron for Free
Being faced with a child custody battle is one of the scariest things a parent can go through. In a divorce, custody is the most highly contested and emotional element. And if you are a single parent fighting to keep custody or trying to establish parental rights, the process can be extremely taxing.
But that is why we are here. At Slater & Zurz, our child custody lawyers understand that this is likely one of the most difficult things you – and your child – have had to go through. As strong advocates for the rights of children and parents, we work hard to ensure the well-being of our clients and their children are protected throughout the process. To learn more about child custody cases in Ohio or to seek expert guidance in preserving your legal rights and those of your child, call (330) 762-0700 to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation.