Although many aspects of divorce are complex and have the potential to be emotionally taxing, issues related to child custody are notorious for being especially difficult. For help ensuring that your own child’s interests are protected during the divorce process, please contact a dedicated Greentown child custody attorney who can advise you.
In recent years, Ohio, like many states across the country, has moved away from using the terms ‘custody’ and ‘visitation’ and instead refers to ‘parental rights and responsibilities.’ There are two main ways that the rights and responsibilities that come along with parenting can be divided upon divorce. The first method involves allocating these rights and obligations to one parent and designating that individual as the child’s legal custodian and residential parent. The non-residential parent is then granted visitation and ordered to pay child support on a monthly basis.
However, this is not the only method that the courts can use when establishing a parenting plan. In fact, most courts prefer to allocate parenting time and decision making responsibility to both parents. This is known as a shared parenting plan and requires both of a child’s parents to share aspects of the physical and legal care of their children. Although for many courts and parents, creating a shared parenting plan is the default option during divorce, courts will only order this type of arrangement if they believe that doing so is in a child’s best interests.
Determining what type of parenting plan would be in a child’s best interests varies depending on the specific circumstances of a case. However, courts will always look to certain factors when making this assessment, including:
When making these assessments, courts are permitted to order home studies, conduct interviews, and request more information from the parties. Only after applying these factors will a court decide whether a shared parenting plan or sole custody arrangement is appropriate in a particular family’s case.
Once a parenting plan has been decided upon and ordered by the court, the arrangement is considered permanent. However, recognizing that a family’s circumstances will change as the children grow older, courts do allow parents to amend the order when a modification is in the child’s best interests and either the child or one of the parents has experienced a change in circumstances.
While it is possible to petition the court for a modification, parents should also keep in mind that those who are subject to a shared parenting decree can agree to modify a plan in an out-of-court setting, although the changes will need to be approved later by the court.
To speak with an experienced Greentown child custody attorney about your questions and concerns, please call Fout Law at 330-437-7455 today.