Columbus Child Custody Lawyers Protecting Your Children
A divorce or breakup affects not only the parents who are severing ties but also their children. That is why it is critical to develop a child custody plan with the children’s best interests in mind. You want to do what is right for your children so they can get the best upbringing possible.
That’s what the child custody attorneys at Wolinetz | Horvath | Brown are here for. From our law office in Columbus, Ohio, we have helped parents successfully resolve child custody issues for decades. In fact, we have over 75 years of combined experience handling everything from straightforward child custody cases to the most complex interstate or international custody cases. We pride ourselves on listening to your concerns, getting to know your children and their needs and helping you pursue the child custody arrangements best suited to meet those needs.
How Does Child Custody Work In Ohio?
First, parents are given the opportunity to develop their own child custody plan. More often than not, they are able to reach an agreement. Most parents like to do this, as it gives them more leeway and creativity to decide on a plan that truly meets their children’s needs. After all, nobody knows your children better than you. Our lawyers are skilled at helping parents negotiate and overcome hurdles in order to reach a mutually agreed upon child custody plan.
However, in some cases, the disagreements are too intense for parents to see eye-to-eye. When that happens, the matter will need to be taken to Ohio Family Court for a judge to decide. The judge will follow the rules laid out in Chapter 3109 of the Ohio Revised Code.
Under this law, child custody is generally allocated in one of two ways:
The court may issue a shared parenting decree, where parents share the physical and legal care of the children. In these cases, an approved shared parenting plan is used. Another name for shared parenting is joint custody. Shared parenting does not necessarily mean that parents share equally in the duties of childrearing. Rather, the court allocates responsibilities based on the best interests of the child.
Alternatively, the court may designate one parent as the residential parent, the one with primary rights and responsibilities for the child. This arrangement is often referred to as sole custody and is somewhat rare in Ohio child custody cases, as most children benefit from maintaining a strong relationship with each parent. Even in this situation, though, barring extreme circumstances, the other parent will typically be granted parenting time with the child, which is sometimes referred to as visitation.
Courts may consider the following when determining custody:
- The child’s relationship with the parents, siblings and other parties
- Mental and physical health of all the parties involved
- Wishes of the children and requests of the parents
- Adjustment issues for the child
- Criminal history of either parent
Our experience means we are ready to stand up for you and argue your case in court if that is what is necessary to protect your relationship with your child.
Answers To Frequently Asked Questions About Child Custody
Below, we’ve answered some questions our attorneys are regularly asked by prospective clients.
Does Ohio favor mothers over fathers in child custody matters?
Ohio child custody law explicitly calls for equality in matters pertaining to parents and children. There should be no bias in favor of any parent because of their gender. The one exception is that when parents have not been married to each other, the mother alone has legal rights as the residential custodial parent. But once a father’s role has been legally established through a paternity case and court order, Ohio’s laws do not discriminate.
With that said, there are many people involved in these cases, and while all work hard to make decisions without conscious bias, unconscious bias has a way of sneaking in, and that’s another reason to have a family law attorney on your side looking out for you and your children.
How do I get custody of my child in Ohio?
Put another way: “How do I initiate child custody proceedings?” The answer will depend on your relationship status with the other parent as well as how cooperative you can be with one another.
If you are married to your co-parent and are getting divorced, child custody proceedings will be part of the larger family law process. You and your spouse should each be represented by an attorney who can also guide you through custody matters and help you determine the next steps. This could include a negotiated agreement on your own, an agreement with the help of attorneys or a litigated dispute decided by a judge.
In cases where the two parents were never married and are now ending their relationship with one another, Ohio law states that the mother automatically has sole custody. This can change, of course, but it requires fathers to formally establish paternity and then initiate court action to seek custody or visitation rights.
Is Ohio a 50-50 state for child custody?
There is no statute stating that equally shared custody is the presumption. But, as mentioned above, courts often find that it is in a child’s best interests to keep both parents actively involved unless there are compelling reasons to exclude one parent or heavily limit their visitation rights.
What are the grounds for full custody in Ohio?
Assuming that both parents want custody, courts would likely only award sole custody in situations where one parent presented a danger to the children or was truly unable to care for them and meet their needs.
One parent seeking sole custody might need to convincingly argue that the other parent:
- Suffers from substance abuse and addiction issues that are not under control
- Has previously committed domestic violence and is at risk of doing so again
- Suffers from a mental or physical illness that does not allow them to adequately care for the children
- Is mostly or entirely unavailable to care for the children due to an overly demanding work schedule, incarceration or other logistical hurdles that are long-lasting or permanent in nature
In certain cases, the relationship between the two parents is so toxic that children would suffer harm from being exposed to it. If the toxic behavior is largely coming from one parent, a judge may award sole custody to the other.
It’s important to remember that sole custody is somewhat rare. If you truly believe it is best for your children, you’ll need to work with an experienced attorney to present a compelling case to a judge.
Your Law Firm For Ongoing Child Custody Issues
A lot can happen between now and when your child reaches adulthood. It can be valuable to think of child custody plans as living entities that require regular checkups, rather than something you set and forget.
Over the years, parents often make little changes on their own. Those changes should be documented for the protection of both sides. Occasionally, big changes will need to be made due to shifts in work schedules or other life events, and we are here to help with the modification of child custody plans.
We can also work with you if the other parent has stopped following the plans and they need to be enforced, or if you have been accused of violating the terms of the child custody order.
Wolinetz, Horvath & Brown, LLC, Is On Your Side
Whether you are seeking approval for a shared custody plan or want to be designated as the residential parent, we are here to help. When dealing with children, the legal process can be complicated. You need an experienced child custody attorney to help you fight for your child’s best interests.
With us on your side, you won’t have to face difficult child custody and visitation issues on your own. Contact us online or call 614-362-8847 today to schedule your consultation with a Columbus child custody lawyer.