Columbus, Ohio Child Custody Lawyers
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Helping With Child Custody, Visitation & Support Updates Or Modifications
Child Custody specialists with OVER 63 YEARS of experience.
There are a number of child custody issues that end up needing to either get hammered out by the parents or by the court. There is a dichotomy here. If the parents cannot reach an agreement as to how the situation should be handled, then the courts have to step in and decide the issue for both parents and the children. Contested custody agreements cost a lot of money, takes a lot of time, and puts the children in the crossfire of a battle between two parents. Two parents coming to a mutual agreement on the matter saves money, generally can end amicably, and allows the children a seamless transition into what will be a major change in their lives.
The Lawrence Law Office offers former a couples an opportunity to manage their custody arrangements themselves. If no agreement is possible or mediation has already been tried—and failed—we can also advocate on behalf of one party’s interests. Give us a call or contact us online for more information.
Understanding the Basics of Ohio Child Custody Laws
Like other states, Ohio considers the welfare of the child or children to be the single most important factor when deciding custody arrangements. From there, the issue becomes decidedly more complicated.
How Do Ohio Courts Determine Child Custody?
Whether you are going through a divorce case or have separated from your partner with whom you share minor children, you will need to plan for a child custody case. Ohio law clarifies that “in any divorce, legal separation, or annulment proceeding, and in any proceeding pertaining to the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities for the care of the child . . . the court shall allocate the parental rights and responsibilities for the care of the minor children.” The allocation of parental rights and responsibilities means the right to make important decisions about the child’s well-being and upbringing, as well as the right to spend time with the child and to participate in day-to-day caretaking responsibilities.
How do courts determine how they will allocate parental rights and responsibilities? They focus on what is in the best interest of the child and consider a wide variety of factors that are relevant to the circumstances of the particular case. Our Columbus child custody attorneys can say more.
Best Interest of the Child Factors
In allocating parental rights and responsibilities, Ohio courts can consider all relevant factors which can include but are not limited to the following according to Ohio law:
- Parents’ wishes concerning the child’s care;
- Child’s wishes in cases where the child has been interviewed in chambers and has expressed a preference;
- Interactions and interrelationship between the child and the parents;
- Interactions and interrelationship between the child and the siblings;
- Interactions and interrelationship between the child and any person who is involved in the child’s life or one of the parent’s lives and may significantly affect the best interest of the child;
- How the child has already adjusted to his or her home, school, and community;
- The mental health of the child, the parents, and any other parties involved in the custody case;
- Physical health of the child, the parents, and any other parties involved in the custody case;
- Likelihood of each parenting facilitating parenting time;
- Each parent’s history of making timely child support payments;
- Each parent’s criminal history, particularly whether either parent has been convicted of an offense or has pleaded guilty to a child abuse offense, a family or domestic violence, or a sex offense;
- Each parent’s history of abiding by any shared parenting decree;
- Whether either parent has willfully denied the other parent the ability to have parenting time;
- Either parent’s plan to establish a residence outside the state of Ohio.
When courts specifically consider whether parents should have shared parenting, or whether one parent should be the primary physical custodian of the child, the court will again focus on the child’s best interest and will consider a variety of relevant factors. Some of those factors are similar to those listed above, as well as factors concerning the parents’ ability to work together for the child’s benefit and the parents’ geographic proximity to one another.
Contact a Child Custody Lawyer in Columbus for Assistance
If you have questions about the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities or the best interests of the child, one of our Columbus child custody attorneys can assist you. Contact Lawrence Law Office today for more information.
When a child is born to an unwed mother, the State of Ohio automatically grants her full or “residential” custody of the child. A father must establish his rights to the child through a court order. This can be done by paternity test or through the volition of the mother. But the father will not have any rights, including visitation, until the court recognizes that they are the father.
Mother’s Rights and Father’s Rights
Ohio courts are restricted by law from favoring mothers over fathers when considering residential custody of children. This prohibits the court from considering the gender of the parent when deciding custody. Nonetheless, there are other considerations that may favor a mother in some cases. For instance, the courts may not want to move a child out of their school district to accommodate a transfer in custody. In that situation, the parent who retained possession of the house would have an advantage.
Again, when parents can hammer these issues themselves, the process is much smoother for everyone. When they can’t, the courts step in.
Ohio Custody Rights
The laws regarding Ohio custody rights can be found in Ohio Revised Code § 3109.
When two parents enter into a custody battle, the court begins with the presumption that it’s best for the children to have both parents be a part of their lives. Since the parents are splitting up, however, only one parent can be awarded residential custody. In other words, only one parent can live with the child. In situations where it is determined that one parent is unfit or a danger to the child, that parent may be denied visitation entirely.
The court must, however, have good reason to deny a parent access to the child. Nonetheless, the court will favor joint custody arrangements with one parent acting as the residential guardian of the child.
Changing Custody Arrangements
You, as a parent, will not need to go before a judge every time you want to make a modification to the custody arrangement. Nonetheless, those changes should be put in writing. This creates a legally binding contract between the parents and if one parent decides to change the agreement unilaterally, then they will have to answer to the court.
Returning a Child at the End of the Summer
Often, the parent that has the child during the summer learns information from the child that causes the parent to be concerned about returning the child to the school placement parent for the beginning of the school year.
If you find yourself in this situation, I recommend that you document the facts and the circumstances that are creating your concern. Secondly, I recommend contacting an attorney immediately to determine your options to file an emergency motion or at a minimum a motion for modification of your parental rights and responsibilities.
As you may already be aware, the Court’s process motions very slowly. If you have grave concerns about your child returning to the other parent for the beginning of the school year, emergency motions must be filed as soon as possible. If you do not return the child at the appointed day and time, in violation of the court order, a contempt motion may be filed against you and the police may be called to enforce the current order.
The Pros of Using Mediation to Negotiate a Child Custody Arrangement
Linda Lawrence is an OSBA Certified Specialist in Family Relations Law. This distinction is awarded to a handful of lawyers in various areas of practice.
Linda is also a skilled mediator who can work with couples that choose to settle their divorce issues through mediation. For many couples, mediation will be the preferable route to take because, in the long run, it’s better for all parties concerned. It’s also cheaper. While there are some instances in which mediation may not be appropriate, particularly if one spouse has been abusive, mediation offers couples a clean way to break up and control their own destiny.
Other Practice Areas
- Family Law
- Prenuptial Agreements
- Stepparent Adoption
- Grandparent Visitation Rights
- Spousal Support
- Equitable Distribution
- Military Divorce
- Social Media in Divorce
- Contempt & Enforcement
- Post Divorce
- Business Owners Divorce
- Tax issues
- Child Custody
- Grandparent Rights
- Same-Sex Couples Child Custody
- High Asset Divorce
- Retirement Assets
- Estate Planning
The place to go.
Lawrence Law Office is the place to go if you need expert and experienced legal counsel. Very knowledgeable about the court system. Been around along time. I highly recommend them!Stephen
Contact a Skilled Child Custody Attorney in Columbus Today
If you’re going through a divorce, the situation can be very stressful. The skilled Columbus child custody attorneys at Lawrence Law Office can help you and your former spouse craft a deal that meets everyone half way and is in the best interests of the children. The best part is the courts won’t be making these decisions for you. Give us a call or contact us online and we can begin talking immediately.