There are two types of child custody: sole custody, in which one parent is the guardian and caretaker of the child, and shared parenting, in which both parties have equal rights and say in the care of the child. Regardless of which type you may be pursuing, Ohio and federal law dictates that custody of the child must be, above all else, in the child’s best interest.
In order to be considered for custodial rights by the court, an eligible parent must have no record of negligence, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, sexual misconduct, or other issues that may be deemed harmful to the child. In determining custody, the court will consider the parent’s physical, psychological, and financial health, as well as environmental factors, such as the condition and cleanliness of the child’s residence.
The child(ren) will be interviewed by the court in order to get a clear picture of what the child’s preferences are, e.g. who they prefer to live with, what the current environment is like at either party’s home, and to report any alleged misconduct, negligence or abuse. Often, a guardian ad litem is appointed, a third party whose sole job is to objectively determine and recommend what circumstances would be in the child’s best interest.
Shared Parenting Plans
When two parties are determined to be caretakers of the child, they must come up with a shared parenting plan. After meeting with an attorney to discuss priorities, the plan is professionally drafted and submitted to the court for consideration. Although there are templates and guidelines for parenting plans, they often differ depending on such factors as the work schedules of the parents, or the child’s medical, educational or special needs. The parenting plan outlines very specifically when each parent will have guardianship over the child(ren), including holidays and vacations.
See the Ohio Supreme Court’s guidelines for shared parenting, or schedule a free consultation with our family law attorney, Matthew Hutchinson, here.