What’s in the Best Interests of a Child?

children playing while dad tries to work

Divorces are rarely easy, especially when you must make tough decisions that affect you and your loved one’s future. One of the most painful and difficult aspects of a divorce is deciding on the custody of their children. Unfortunately, if parents cannot reach a compromise on the responsibilities regarding their kids, the courts must step in.

Although our child custody attorneys are there to guide our clients through every step of the divorce process, it’s still important that you become familiar with custody laws so that you know what to expect before entering the courtroom.

Types of Child Custody Arrangements in Ohio

  • Physical custody: This refers to the right a parent has to have a child live with him or her. It covers the day-to-day responsibilities and care of the child.

  • Legal custody: This is the right and obligation to make decisions about the child’s upbringing, including his or her schooling, religion, and medical care.

  • Sole custody: This is the legal arrangement in which one parent has either full legal custody or physical custody of a child. Although courts prefer to have both parents involved in raising the child, they will not hesitate to award sole custody if one parent is deemed unfit.

  • Joint custody: Whenever possible, courts prefer the parents to share the responsibilities of the child. Joint physical custody works best when parents live relatively close to one another as it allows a child to maintain a consistent routine. Joint legal custody may be awarded, allowing for decision making to be shared by both parents.

How Courts Decide on Custody Issues in Ohio

When divorcing parties are unable to agree upon custody matters, the courts will look to ORC § 3109.04, which requires courts to consider all relevant factors when determining the best interest of the children.

The relevant factors observed by courts include:

  • The wishes of each parent regarding the child’s care;

  • The wishes of the child, if he or she is old enough and has sufficient “reasoning ability;”

  • The child’s interaction with the parents and siblings;

  • The child’s adjustment to his or her current living arrangement, school, and community;

  • The physical and mental health of the parents and the child;

  • The parent who has demonstrated respect for past custody decisions and is more likely to honor parenting time rights;

  • Whether the parents have made their child support payments;

  • Whether either parent was previously convicted of or pleaded guilty to a criminal offense involving the abuse or neglect of a child;

  • Whether either parent has an established residence or is planning on relocating to another state.

It’s also important to note that Ohio law does not give preference to one parent over the other based on financial circumstances alone.

Preferred Custody Arrangement

Like many other states, Ohio has shifted to awarding shared parental responsibilities. Studies have shown that it’s in a child’s best interest to have both parents involved in his or her life as much as possible. For courts to grant joint custody, they will evaluate how well the parents are willing to cooperate and maintain a healthy relationship for their child. Of course, another significant factor is the physical proximity of both parents. The closer the parents, the more likely a shared parenting agreement will work.

Protecting the Best Interests of Your Family

We know how valuable your children are to you. We at the Law Offices of William L. Geary have been helping parents put their kids first for nearly 25 years, and our team is here to assist you too. Our child custody attorney will work closely with you to create a personalized parenting plan while keeping in mind your child’s best interests.

Call Law Offices of William L. Geary today at (614) 289-1227 to schedule a consultation with our child custody attorney.

Related Posts
  • The Ultimate Guide to Understanding How Relocation Affects Child Custody Read More
  • When Can You Leave Your Child Alone in Ohio? Read More
  • Disability as a Factor in Custody Proceedings In Ohio Read More