Divorce can be hard under any circumstances, but it can become infinitely harder when there are children involved.
In some cases, divorce and custody agreements fall naturally into place and settle into amicable co-parenting. This is often considered the best-case scenario for both separating parents and their children. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the way divorce and custody pan out. Divorces tend to be fraught with emotion, baggage, and hurt, which can impede clear-headed negotiation. This extends all the more so to matters of custody, which sometimes get dragged into the emotional battleground of the larger divorce.
No matter what the emotional landscape of your divorce has looked like so far, you will still have to go through the same process of divorce and custody in accordance with Ohio Family Law.
In Ohio, decisions about child custody, parental rights, and parental responsibilities are guided first and foremost by the best interest of the child, which is discerned by considering into a number of factors. These include:
The court encourages parents to come to a mutually agreed upon custody arrangement and parenting plan, to be submitted for court approval. If they are unable to do so on their own, a custody arrangement and parenting plan is worked out through court processes. Preference is given to joint custody arrangements, and parents who decide on joint custody tend to have more leeway when it comes to their parenting plan.
In cases where joint custody is not possible, one parent is usually granted custody, while the other is usually granted visitation rights. The parent that is deemed most capable of caring for a child’s emotional, mental, physical, educational, and developmental needs is more likely to be granted physical custody.
Several things can damage a parent’s custodial chances. Anything that is generally considered counter to the child’s best interest will work against a parent’s chances at custody. For instance, if a parent lives in an environment that is not suitable for children, or has a romantic partner or cohabitating family member who may be dangerous to children, it may hinder the parent’s chances of gaining custody. A history of abuse may also hinder a parent’s chances of gaining custody. Any parent who has been arrested for child abuse, neglect, or molestation will not be granted custody, and will only be allowed visitation with a social worker.
No. The State of Ohio prohibits the court from considering either parent’s financial condition or resources when deciding custody. The court may not award custody to one parent exclusively because they have more income or assets.
When determining custody, the court does consider the preferences of children who are considered mature enough to offer a preference. However, children do not have the right to make their own custody decisions. Judges sometimes opt to interview children privately to get a sense of what their preferences are.
The court will only agree to change established custody orders under certain circumstances. Namely, a custody order will only be changed if one or both parents can show a change in circumstances since the order was issued that necessitates the change, and can also show that their proposed changes would be more beneficial than harmful to the child.
If you have children and you are pursuing a separation or divorce, the best thing you can do for yourself is to consult with an experienced, reputable family law attorney as soon as possible. Divorce and custody proceedings are often hard no matter what, but having someone on your side who can shepherd you empathetically through the process while advocating fiercely on your behalf can make all the difference in the world. In the Aurora, Ohio area, that advocate and guide is Attorney Amy Turos.
Attorney Turos is a seasoned family law lawyer who specializes in divorce and child custody, serving the Kent State University and Hiram College communities as well as greater Aurora and Portage County, Ohio. Attorney Turos knows what it takes to truly show up for her clients, walking them through the complex, emotionally fraught process of divorce and custody proceedings while representing their best interests and the best interests of their children. She has helped hundreds of clients come to mutually agreeable, sustainable custody arrangements. Let her help you, too. Call (330) 222-3898 for a free consultation today.