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Custody FAQ

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The information below is general and based upon current Ohio law. If you wish to learn how the laws apply to your situation and what will happen in your case contact our child custody attorney Dayton for a free case evaluation.

What are parental rights and responsibilities?

The “allocation of parental rights and responsibilities” is what we once called custody. It is the court’s determination, or the parties agreement as to how each parent will be responsible for the development and well being of their children. These orders can include things like visitation/parenting time schedules, school district designation, and child support.

What is sole custody?

Sole custody refers to a situation where the children are based with one parent who is primarily responsible for their care. The other parent spends “parenting time” with the children, typically weekends, summer times and holidays. If custody is in dispute, the court must decide what is best for the children in terms of who should be custodial parent.

How does the court decide custody?

The primary consideration for a court is what is in the “best interests” of the child. The law directs the court to examine the following factors when determining what is in the best interests of the child.

  • The parent’s wishes.
  • The child’s wishes, as expressed to the court.
  • The child’s interaction and relationship with their parents and other family members who may influence the child’s best interests.
  • The physical and mental health of all parties involved in the state of affairs.
  • The child’s adjustment to his home, community and school.
  • The parent more likely to honor to commit to visitation and parenting time rights approved by the court.
  • If a parent has failed to pay for child support, including all arrearage, that are required of that parent, following a child support court decision in which that parent has been ordered to make child support payments.
  • If one of the parents was convicted of or pleaded guilty to any criminal act  involving a minor being an abused or neglected child.
  • If either residential parent are subject to a shared parenting order and have  denied the other parent their right to child visitation in agreement with instruction of the court.
  • If one of the parents has created a home residence, or is proposing to create a home, out of the state.

My child is "X" years old, is that old enough to choose which parent to live with?

Contrary to popular opinion, whether a child is 3 or 17 they never get to choose where to live. Without an agreement between the parties the court makes the decision based upon what is best for the child. In certain cases a child may be asked to talk directly with the court, and at that time the child’s age may play a part in how the court assesses the child’s opinion, but in no case is the decision left to the child.

What is "shared parenting"?

Shared parenting is a term used to apply to an agreement or court order, in which both parents retain equal and full custodial rights of their children. The parties agree to “share” custody and equally participate in the raising of their children after the marriage is over.

Despite the term “shared”, the plan must still make arrangements for visitation/parenting time, child support etc. While it is envisioned that the parties will be in full agreement with the day-to-day issues of their children, the plan still must define the rights of each parent to give guidance in the event of a dispute.

The drafting of these plans as well as their appropriateness to your situation is an extremely important matter. Our office can guide you and help determine what best fits for you and your children. Contact us here for specific information covering this and all other forms of custodial arrangements.

What's the difference between shared parenting and sole custody?

Over time the differences between these two custodial arrangements have faded significantly. Today a non-residential (non-custodial) parent has many more rights. These include access to medical and school records, along with being informed and being allowed to attend school and extracurricular activities outside of their normal visitation. Still though major decision in a child’s life are reserved for the residential (custodial) parent.

Will I have to pay (can I get) child support?

Child support is mandated by Ohio law. Child support is based upon the incomes of both parents, taking in to consideration expenses such as daycare and health care for the children. It is important to remember that child support calculations do not take in to consideration expenses unrelated to the child, such as mortgages or car loans.

Contrary to popular belief both parties pay child support. The support figure arrived at is paid by both parents based upon a percentage of income earned. Since the children are generally based with one parent, the other parent’s percentage is then transferred to the parent housing the children. Therefore, even if the parties have a shared parenting agreement, child support may still have to be paid. To find out how much child support may be in your case contact us for a free case evaluation.

Can custody be changed?

The court always has the ability to change custodial relations after a divorce if it finds that a change in circumstances of the child has occurred and that a change is now in the best interest of the child.

What should I tell the children?

While there are differing opinions on this issue, it is important to keep in mind that this was your marriage and this is your divorce. It should be explained to the children that they should be kept out of the details of the process as much as possible. Sadly, this is not always the case and some spouses insist on discussing what otherwise should be adult matters. If this is because they are attempting to manipulate the children’s attitudes towards the other spouse, this may be considered parental alienation (see below).

If possible it is probably best to explain to the children that the marriage is ending together; that it is not their fault, that they are loved and that they will be able to interact with both parents as much as possible. If the situation between you and your spouse is so bad that it is impossible to speak to the children together, then at bear minimum, parents should refrain from speaking ill of the other spouse or involving the children in any way in the details of the divorce.

This can be difficult especially in the case of older children, older children often wish to be more involved and even of their own volition wish to take sides. If the well being of your children is paramount then the older child’s desire to become involved should be discouraged.

In extreme cases it may be necessary to engage the family with a professional counselor to get the children through this difficult time.

What is parental alienation?

Parental alienation is a term used to describe the situation where one parent is intentionally attempting to get the children to terminate their relationship with the other parent. Alienation can be as subtle as simply failing to note when the other parent calls so that the children can not call them back or it can be as extreme as outwardly telling the children negative things about the other parent and refusing to allow the children to see the other parent.

It is becoming more and more recognized by courts that parental alienation is a real syndrome and a real danger to children. If you suspect parental alienation you should do everything that you can to stop it immediately. In extreme cases the only cure for such bad behavior of one parent is to change the custodial relationship between the parties.

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