A generation ago, Canton was a center of heavy industry in the Midwest. Today, Canton’s economy is mostly service-based. Ohio’s family laws have changed significantly over the last generation, as well.
In the 1980s, the Buckeye State had a joint custody law, as did most other jurisdictions. This law gave unmarried parents joint legal custody over their children, but physical custody was normally one-sided. Today’s co-parenting law presumes that children benefit from frequent, consistent, and meaningful contact with both parents. Additionally, this law imposes child-rearing responsibilities on both parents.
At the Fout Law Office, our dedicated Canton child custody attorneys understand what an earth-shaking effect the new co-parenting law has on families like yours. So, we provide long term solutions which make an inherently unstable situation somewhat more certain. Orders like these are easier to modify later, easier to enforce in court, and easier to follow.
The aforementioned co-parenting presumption is not the only pillar of Ohio family law. In fact, it might not even be the most important one. That distinction might go to the best interests presumption. All child custody and visitation decisions must be in the best interests of the children. That is different from the preferences of the children or the best interests of the parents.
Best interests is a broad concept that is sometimes difficult to define. To assist in this process, Ohio law sets out a number of factors. Some major ones include:
To assist this process even further, many judges order social services investigations in contested cases. Highly-trained social workers know how to properly evaluate family relationships in light of these factors, and make appropriate recommendations. For these reasons, social services investigations are common in subsequent modifications, as well.
Family dynamics, such as the residential parent’s residence, change frequently. When these changes occur, many parents rely on informal side-agreements. While it is good to compromise when appropriate, there can be too much of a good thing. Side agreements are unenforceable in Ohio family courts.
Filing a motion to modify is a much better approach. If the motion is agreed, most judges will sign it without requiring a hearing. If the motion is contested, judges use the same basic factors to evaluate the situation.
Additionally, not just any change supports a successful motion to modify. The change must be permanent, substantial, and unanticipated at the time the previous order was entered.
Custody and visitation decisions must be in the best interests of the child. For a confidential consultation with an experienced Canton family law attorney, contact the Fout Law Office, LLC. We routinely handle matters in Stark County and nearby jurisdictions.