Lawmakers have recently started discussing making a significant change to the existing statute that governs custody and the division of parenting time for couples that separate or divorce in Ohio. The current standard is that judges should divide both parenting time and decision-making authority according to what they believe would be in the child’s best interests. For most families, a co-parenting arrangement includes liberal amounts of parenting time for each of the adults. However, much is left to the discretion of a judge overseeing any particular case.
Sometimes, one parent will have the children the vast majority of the time, and the other may only have them for one or two weekends a month. Ohio lawmakers have started discussing changing the law to a presumption of 50/50 parenting time. Would such changes benefit families?
The current law usually serves its purpose well
There are always the rare unusual cases in which someone’s unscrupulous misrepresentation or an individual’s unusual personality somehow influences court proceedings in a way that leads to atypical outcomes. However, for the vast majority of parents sharing custody in Ohio, the existing custody statute is adequate for their needs. It requires that a judge split custody based on the best interests of the children.
Focusing on what is best for the children typically does mean giving both parents as much time as possible. However, 50/50 custody arrangements are not always a realistic option, and they aren’t always the most beneficial arrangements either.
If lawmakers were to add to the custody rules and increase the pressure on a judge to structure parenting plans in a specific way, the resulting custody orders might actually be less beneficial for the children and less aligned with the family’s true needs.
Many families settle custody matters outside of court
Parents typically have the option of settling their own custody disagreement either by having their lawyers collaborate or by attending mediation together. When efforts at cooperation are successful, parents can have complete control over the terms of their parenting plan, allowing them to craft arrangements that truly meet their children’s needs.
Staying up-to-date on Ohio custody laws and getting support during custody disputes and negotiations from an experienced legal professional can help parents to better ensure the protection of their rights.