Child Custody Lawyers Dayton, Ohio
Southern Ohio’s Premier Divorce Attorneys
Dayton West Chester
Divorce doesn’t just happen to couples…. it happens to the entire family, including the children. When the custody of the children is at stake, emotions can run high and conversations might become heated. The attorneys at Kirkland & Sommers only practice family and divorce law, and we are the experts in the Dayton and West Chester, Ohio area when it comes to answering your questions about child custody issues.
Talk to a child custody lawyer about the different types of custody
In Ohio, there are two types of custody: sole custody and shared parenting. Sole custody is the legal term used when one parent is identified as the primary residential parent and legal custodian of the child. Shared parenting means both parents have decision-making authority for the child, and parenting time is allocated via an agreement reached by both parties and approved by the court. Ohio does not recognize “joint custody”.
Each county has a standard parenting order within its local rules of the court, but the court also has a wide degree of discretion when deciding issues of child custody. The standard order is usually just a starting point for the court, identifying the primary residential parent and legal custodian of the children. Typically, this type of custody order gives the non-residential parent time with the children every other weekend and a few hours one or two nights a week. This schedule is a common standard, but your actual visitation schedule will be based around your own family’s lifestyle.
In this standard custody order, the custodial parent will have the decision-making authority for the child. This is the essence of sole custody: only one parent is responsible for making the decisions. It doesn’t mean the other parent won’t be granted parenting time with the children, but major decisions regarding schools, church, extra-curricular activities and the like will rest with the custodial parent.
If the parents wish to create a shared parenting plan, they must prove to the court that they are willing and able to interact with each other in a way that facilitates shared parenting. Constant fighting, belittling the other parent in front of the child, and an inflexible attitude will not help to convince the court that shared parenting is the best option for the child. And at the end of the day, that is the court’s number one priority: determining what is best for the child. Parents’ rights do not transcend the child’s best interests.
It’s important to keep in mind that shared parenting does not mean each parent will have equal time with the children. In reality, parenting plans granting completely equal parenting time are not very common. Shared parenting is about sharing the responsibility for making decisions that involve the child, not how much time each parent spends with the child.
The Court’s role in child custody decisions
The court will consider the family’s current circumstances as a whole when determining what is in the best interest of the children. Factors that the court will consider include:
- The relationship of the child with each parent
- The geographic proximity
- The age of the child
- The child’s adjustment to home, school, and community
- The health and safety of the child
- If there are any siblings
- Any other relevant factors
If the parents are able to create a shared parenting plan, the court will review it, but the court cannot award shared parenting in a trial if a plan was not submitted. They will have to choose one parent to be the residential and custodial parent, but they will also attempt to keep both parents as involved as possible in the child’s life barring any valid reasons not to.
Schedule a free consultation with a child custody lawyer in Dayton
The custody lawyers at Kirkland & Sommers can help answer some of your initial questions about child custody at a free consultation. Because we only practice divorce and family law, we know how the Dayton and West Chester area courts view certain custody issues, and we can help you understand what your options might be going in. Come talk to us about your situation and let us see if we can help!