Child custody disputes arise in two situations—a couple with children is divorcing or two people who have never married have conceived a child. In either situation, parents can work out a custody arrangement between themselves that meets the needs of all involved and submit it for court approval.
Unfortunately, many different hurdles can get in the way of a smooth agreement. For example, one of you might want to move far away or could already be living in a different part of the state. In other situations, there are very hurt feelings on both sides and parents try to “fight” each other using the children.
At our firm, we have substantial experience with Ohio’s child custody laws and can help you in different types of disputes. Child custody is definitely one area where you will want to hire an experienced attorney to represent you.
Explaining the Law
A seasoned attorney should be able to explain your rights to you in a way that makes sense. For example, if you are divorcing, you might wonder if you can get “full custody” of the children. We can explain how Ohio rarely awards full custody. Instead, parental rights and responsibilities are allocated between the parents, with both parents typically getting meaningful time with the child.
Any time parents cannot agree on a custody issue, a judge will decide it. For this reason, it’s helpful to understand how a judge will decide an issue before going into negotiations.
We are also skilled at negotiating custody agreements and drafting detailed parenting plans. Obtaining legal help is vital if you have negative emotions towards your ex, which might impede any ability to reach agreement.
Judges decide child custody disputes based on evidence—not emotion or instinct. And there are certain things you need to prove in a custody dispute using high-quality evidence.
Consider how judges decide custody in the first place. They make decisions based on the “best interest of the child” as laid out in Ohio Revised Code § 3109.04. Judges do not simply guess at what is in the child’s best interest. The law lists certain factors a judge should consider, and judges will weigh the evidence presented.
An attorney is a great help in finding evidence to persuade a judge. For example, we can document your continuous, loving bond with your child using photographs, birthday cards, and eyewitness testimony. We can document your earning power with pay stubs and a carefully detailed employment history.
Sometimes, our clients need to address a black mark in their past, such as domestic violence, criminal convictions, or chemical addiction. We can guide you through the best way of showing a judge you have changed. For example, you might complete a 12 step program or have a religious leader testify on your behalf. Without an attorney, few people would know how to put on a compelling case.
Enforcing Court Orders
Child custody issues can arise even after divorce. For example, your ex might be denying you visitation with your child on flimsy pretexts, e.g., saying your child is sick or doesn’t want to see you.
At Lawrence Law, our Ohio child custody lawyers can alert the court to any noncompliance with its orders. A judge can hold a hearing to find out why your ex is not following the parenting plan and can take remedial action, such as adjusting the plan or holding your ex-spouse in contempt.
Our lawyers can help you document that you were willing and able to see your children. We can also investigate to find out if the excuses offered were really valid. Without legal assistance, many parents struggle to enforce their custody rights but instead let their ex walk all over them.
Keeping Abreast of Changes in the Law
Family law in Ohio is always changing. The legislature adopts new statutes, and judges issue rulings that directly impact how future judges will decide cases. Your odds of success in a child custody dispute increase if you hire someone who keeps their thumb on the latest legal developments and who uses this knowledge to your advantage.
Give Us a Call
If you spot a child custody dispute on the horizon, please contact Lawrence Law Office. This is one time you do not want to try and perform your own legal work. There is simply too much at stake.
Our attorneys have helped negotiate many custody agreements and will represent you before a judge, if necessary, to protect your rights. Please contact us today to review.