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Columbus Ohio Child Custody Attorneys

In the state of Ohio, it should be noted that the best interest of the child is always considered most prominent, and not the best interest of a parent.

Child custody involving divorce, marriage annulment, or legal separation can be awarded to a sole parent, or to both parents. If both parents are awarded custody, it is known as joint custody or shared parenting. Shared custody means that both parents will have a role in the decision making involving matters related to the child, and both are considered residential parents (meaning the child will live with both parents individually). However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that both parents will have equal time with the child, nor does it mean the child will be living with each parent on a half-and-half basis. If no agreement on shared custody is met by both parties, then the court will decide on the various allotment of time of child custody.

For single mothers (unmarried mothers) the child custody rules are a bit different. An unmarried mother is considered the legal custodian of the child, unless the local jurisdiction rules that another individual is also a legal custodian.


Ohio Child Visitation Laws

Parental visitation time is known as ‘parenting time’ in the state of Ohio. It should be noted that if a parent is required to pay child support, but does not, that parent is still allowed to see their child and has visitation rights. However, the court can decree that a parent not receive any custody or visitation rights. A judge can also decree supervised visitation only. Reasons for supervised visitation can be based on a variety of factors including a history of abuse, drinking, and drug problems.

Child support is a different matter entirely from child custody. Please refer to our Child Support page for more information.


Child Custody Rules in Ohio

In cases of divorce, legal separation, or marriage annulment, if no agreement can be met by both parties, then the court will decide which parent would be in the best interest for a minor child. Determining factors include any mediation reports as well as testimony of either parent or both parents.


Ohio Child Custody and Visitation for Grandparents

The courts consider the parents legally above grandparents, generally. The same laws apply to any non-parent of the child.

It can be a bit more difficult for grandparents to receive custody rights, although certainly not impossible. Visitation rights for grandparents, if not agreed to by the parent(s), can still be obtained through the court. If neither parent is considered fit to raise the child, then grandparents have a greater shot at obtaining custody. As always, the court considers the best option for the child. Consult our child custody attorneys if you are a grandparent in Columbus or Ohio seeking child custody or visitation.


Moving Out of State – Ohio Child Custody Relocation

If child custody is a shared plan between the parents, then the terms of a child custody agreement generally include any rules regarding a parent moving to another state. If the custodial parent (residential parent) decides to move from Ohio then he or she is required to legally notify both the courts and the other parent. If the other parent objects, then the court will make the decision on whether or not the custodial parent will allowed to move out of state with the child.


Parenting Plan

As part of a custody hearing, a judge will issue what is known as a parenting plan. Think of a parenting plan as a means to establish guidelines for raising a child with shared or joint custody.

The plan can include the following:

Any child support designation

Health insurance coverage

Medical care decisions

Report card access

Notification of extracurricular events such as plays, athletic events etc.

Terms of paying applicable taxes

Who is allowed in the home in when the child is present

A conflict resolution plan or clause

Ohio Child Custody FAQ

Can a child themselves determine which parent they wish to live with?

Although it varies from county to county in Ohio, generally the legal age for a child to make their own decision on which parent he or she wants to live with can occur at age 16. However, the decision is not based on the child’s wants alone, as other mitigating circumstances can also apply as to where the child resides.


Am I allowed to change the terms of a child custody agreement?

Yes, if the court determines that a significant change has occurred in the circumstances related to the original child custody arrangement.


Is my child required to testify in court?

Generally this will not be the case. However, if the court decides that a child needs to be heard from, then a judge will have a private interview with the child – no parent will be allowed present.


Do child custody courts favor the mother instead of the father?

In reality, the courts should not favor one parent over the other, regardless of their gender or parenting role. The best interest of the child is always considered the most important factor in determining custody.


Where can I find more information about Ohio child custody laws?

Parent’s Rights/Responsibilities for the Care of a Child (shared parenting)

Child Support Determinations

Parenting Time and Visitation Rights


Temporary Child Custody (while action is pending)

Custody Rights of an Unmarried Mother


Visitation Rights for Parents or Relatives of a Deceased Parent

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