Parental Rights and Responsibilities After Divorce

Are you considering a divorce, but unsure of the legal impact this action will have on your relationship with your child? Are you worried about losing your decision-making ability when it comes to issues regarding your child? Do you feel lost as you try to make sense of legalese related to parental rights and the responsibilities of divorced parents? The experienced legal team at the Lawrence Law Office can help you to maneuver through the challenge of a divorce, and all of the legal implications that it entails for you, the co-parent, and your child.

Parental Responsibilities in an Ohio Divorce

When a marriage dissolves, a family dissolves. Statistics show that many marriages end in divorce. In fact, the Huffington Post suggests that the divorce rate in Ohio was 9 per 1,000 population in 2013. In circumstances like these, who decides what school or church the child will attend? While both parents have a vested interest in the health and welfare of a child, Ohio’s laws regarding the best interests of the child take into consideration what both parents want for the child or children and may even ask the children about their wishes.  

Shared Parenting or Residential Parent

Chapter 3109 of Ohio laws and rules talks about how the courts should determine parental responsibility in these cases. Ohio courts like to do one of two things when it comes to splitting parental rights and responsibilities:

  • The court might decide to allocate the responsibilities of the child or children to a primary parent and designate that parent to be legal custodian, or “residential parent.” All other rights and responsibilities regarding the care of the children are divided between the two parents, including financial support and visitation.
  • The court may decide that it is best to allocate the parental rights and responsibilities of the child or children to both parents equally. This is called a “shared parenting” order (the equivalent of what other states call “joint custody.” Both parents are considered the “residential parents,” but they have to agree upon a court approved plan for the shared parenting situation and surrounding circumstances. This does not necessarily mean that time is split 50/50 between parents, but rather both parents have a say in the physical, financial, and legal care of the child or children.

Either way, the parents have to learn to work together for the best interest of the child or children.

How Does the Court Make its Determination?

The court has many considerations as it determines which parent will be allocated decision-making authority, all based on the best interests of the child. Besides the child’s wishes (depending on age and maturity), the court will examine issues of mental and physical health, the child’s needs, and transportation issues. Any relevant instances of violence, threats, or predatory behavior by either parent will also be considered. Finally, the level of cooperation and/or conflict between parents will impact any shared decision-making authority.

How Can I Better Understand Ohio’s Laws that Impact My Child?

Protecting you and your child during and after divorce is what we do best at the Lawrence Law Office. Contact our skilled Ohio family law attorneys today in Lawrence for competent help in understanding the Ohio laws regarding your rights and responsibilities in the event of a divorce involving a child.

How Joint Custody Parents Decide Where to Send Children to School or Church

If you and your co-parent share joint legal custody of your children in Ohio, you must decide which school your child will attend. If you and your co-parent agree what school your child should attend, you can simply enroll your child in the agreed-upon school without any involvement from family court. If you and your co-parent cannot agree on what school to enroll your child, however, you can try mediation, where you may be able to discuss and agree on a solution. If mediation does not help the two of you reach an agreement, you will have to consult with the courts.

School

Several cases have wrestled with the issue of which rights each co-parent has concerning where to send children to school. In Madison v. Davis, the California Supreme court addressed the rights of divorced parents when their child enters school. The Madison case involved the rights of the two divorced co-parents and their pre-school aged child.

The father in the case argued that under Beck v. Beck, the non-custodial parent has the right to make decisions regarding the child’s wellbeing. Meanwhile, the mother in the case argued that under Pascale v. Pascale, the parent of primary residence holds more authority in making decisions regarding the child. The Madison v. Davis case ultimately ruled that when pre-school is being used as daycare, the primary residential parent has the initial right to select a pre-school program. The parent, however, must make a “reasonable” choice that factors in considerations, such as location and cost.

While some parents might think that choosing where a child attends pre-school is a small issue, there is a strong possibility that the court will want to keep your child in the same location where he or she will eventually be attending kindergarten to maintain stability.

Church

There are multiple methods used to decide where to send your children to religious services. Courts often attempt to balance competing parental concerns about the child’s religious upbringing. While courts must protect an individual parent’s right to the free exercise of religion, courts must ultimately ensure that the best interests of the child are protected.

The Supreme Court has not yet articulated its opinion on religious upbringing and shared custody. With no uniform national law in place, states apply a variety of legal tests. The three most common tests applied by state courts are:

  • Whether restricting a parent’s religious practices will cause “actual or substantial” harm to the child,
  • If restricting a parent’s religious practices “might harm” the child in the future, and
  • If the custodial parent objects to the noncustodial parent’s religious activities.

When the parents of minor children divorce, custody of the children becomes a major issue.  Then, there are thousands of additional minute issues on which parents might disagree. That is why it is critical to have the assistance of an experienced family law attorney like the family law attorneys at the Lawrence Law Office. For a free consultation, please feel free to contact us today at (614) 228-3664.

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