Ohio Divorce FAQs – Parenting

This is about custody and visitation after divorce in Ohio, including the effect on custody and visitation of misconduct of the parents, mental health of the parents, and the rights of grandparents in Ohio.

This information is from Thomas J. McGuire, theDivorceInfo Network Lawyer for Ohio. Click here to visit his web site.

How does custody get decided as between a parent and a third party?

In Ohio, in order for a non-parent to gain custody of a child, that person needs to show that the parent is unfit. Please see In re Perales (1977), 52 Ohio St.2d 89, at syllabus. See, also, Reynolds v. Goll (1996), 75 Ohio St.3d 121.

How does custody get decided as between parents?

The decision of custody between parents is based upon the best interest of the child. There are also a number of factors in determining who should be custodian listed in Ohio Revised Code §3109.04. The courts also look at stability of each parent, financial ability, relationship with the child, criminal history of each parent, and the desires of the child, if the child demonstrates sufficient maturity.

What’s the terminology for custody?

Legal Custody is the same as sole custody. This is where one parent is determined to be the residential parent and is in charge of the child in regards to schooling, and medical treatment.

Shared parenting is where both parents communicate and make joint decisions regarding the care and upbringing of the child. Shared parenting does not mean that both parents have equal time with the child, but only that the parents communicate and make joint decisions regarding the child.

Is there a presumption in favor of not changing custody arrangements?

There is a presumption in favor of not changing custody. However, a change in custody will be granted if the parent can demonstrate a change in circumstances for either the residential parent or the child.

What effect does the misconduct of one of the parents have on custody?

Misconduct of one parent may have a substantial effect on custody. The effect on custody will depend upon the misconduct and if that misconduct caused any harm to the child or the parental relationship.

What effect does the mental health of one of the parents have on custody?

The mental health of a parent has an effect on custody determinations to a limited extent. If the parent with mental health issues is participating in treatment following the treatment recommendations, the effect is minimal. However, if the mental health issues are left unresolved, the effect will be substantial.

What effect does the preference of the child have on custody?

If the child is old enough to articulate his/her desires for one parent over the other, most courts will heavily weigh that preference. The court will talk with the child in an in camera interview and assess the child’s preference for one parent or the other in light of the child’s age, maturity and reasons for that preference. An in camera interview is where the judge or magistrate talks with the child one-on-one.

How does visitation get set?

Visitation is set either by standard order of the court, or by agreement of the parties. In Ohio, the standard order of visitation for school age children is one weekday visit for a few hours, and alternating weekends from Friday through Sunday.

Is there such a thing as “standard visitation”? If so, what is it?

Standard visitation is alternating weekends from Friday evenings at 6:00 p.m. to Sunday at 6:00 p.m.; 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. visitations once a week during the week provided that meals are provided for or accommodated and the parents reside in the same or adjoining counties; if unable to agree, the weekday shall be on Wednesday. Holidays are to be alternated.

Is there a standard visitation pattern when the non-custodial parent is in a different state from the child? If so, what is it?

For the non-residential parent: Christmas school vacation in the even numbered years or up to five days for preschoolers with no school-aged siblings; Easter school vacation in the odd numbered years or up to five days for preschoolers with no school-aged siblings; and One-half of the school summer vacation. Summer school necessary for the children to pass to the next grade must be attended. Must notify the residential parent as to the arrangements by May 1.

What rules govern cases where the custodial parent wants to move away with the children?

The custodial parent may move away with the children. The parent must notify the court and the non-residential parent may request a hearing on the issue. Should the custodial parent move, visitation would be modified to the long distance visitation schedule.

What visitation rights do grandparents have, if any?

Grandparents have visitation rights only if they appear in the pending divorce matter and specifically request visitation rights. The grandparents must establish that there is a relationship with the child, and that relationship would be harmed because the custodial parent would not allow visitation.

Other issues in Ohio:

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