Custody matters are often very emotional life challenges. Having to negotiate specific terms for spending time with one’s children can be very difficult. Although parents always have the option of setting their own arrangements, some families cannot reach an amicable solution to custody disputes without judicial intervention.
Parents in Ohio can generally depend on state law to help resolve their disagreements, but much is left to the discretion of whichever judge is hearing their case. Existing custody statutes in Ohio require that the courts divide parenting time and other responsibilities in a way that reflects the best interests of the children. Some lawmakers have proposed changing the statute because they want to clarify a few concerns.
What is the proposed adjustment?
Pending legislation that seeks to amend the existing child custody statute in Ohio would create a presumption of equal parenting time. Essentially, the law would state that judges should give parents equal time with their children. Deviations from that standard would still be possible in scenarios where an adult can establish that 50/50 custody arrangements would not be in the best interest of affected children.
The new law would encourage the parents to reach an agreement on their own regarding how to achieve an even split of parenting time. In scenarios with concerns about the needs and safety of the children, the courts could still assign a guardian ad litem to represent the children in custody disputes.
Some people feel very strongly that the change is necessary because judges in every county have different approaches to custody matters. Others worry that the change might impose a burden on those seeking to protect their children from unstable and unhealthy circumstances.
The approach that parents take when navigating custody matters can make all the difference. Those who want to cooperate and who keep the focus on what is best for the children may be able to mitigate the most harmful consequences of their divorce and build a healthy co-parenting relationship. More generally, understanding the existing custody statutes and Ohio and the proposed change may help those preparing for divorce or separation start to put together an effective strategy personalized for their circumstances.