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Five frequently asked questions regarding child custody

When going through divorce litigation, couples can become ensnared in the emotions of the situation and feel like two battling opponents. It is easy to lose sight of what is really important, your children and preserving an amicable relationship with your spouse to co-parent your children post divorce. In order to do this, it is important to approach custody disputes with the mindset of "what is in the best interests of my child?" and "how can we reach an agreement while making this as easy on the kids as possible?"

At Rieth Antonelli & Raj, we keep these interests at heart while navigating the divorce process and helping our clients reach an amicable custody solution whenever possible. In addition to questions parents should ask themselves when seeking a custody solution, here are some answers to five common questions related to the child custody process.

1. How is custody decided?

When parents cannot reach a custody agreement, the court will make the decision. In Ohio, custody is referred to as parental rights and responsibilities. Under O.R.C. 3109.04, courts consider the best interests of the child when making the determination.

According to Ohio law (O.R.C. 3109.04(f)(1)), the following factors may be considered by the court when determining what is in the child's best interest, including:

  • The wishes of the parents and the child;
  • The relationship of the child and his or her parents, siblings and any other person of significance;
  • The child's ability to adjust to a new home, school or community;
  • The physical or mental health of the child and of each parent;
  • Each parent's ability and willingness to foster a good relationship between the child and the other parent;
  • Each parent's ability and willingness to work together as co-parents and make important decisions about their child's future;
  • The location of each parent's residence and if either is planning on moving to another state;
  • If either parent has failed to pay child support, failed to honor the other parent's visitation time, has ever been abusive or neglectful toward the child or has ever been convicted of a crime.

The court may require additional information based on the circumstances to aid in making the custody determination as well.

2. What is shared parenting?

Shared parenting is also called joint custody. This means that the parents share the physical and legal care of the child. Physical care may refer to where the child resides and day-to-day care responsibilities. While legal care refers to important decisions about how the child will be raised, including decisions about the child's education, health care and religious upbringing. Shared parenting may not necessarily be split 50/50 between the parents.

3. What is a parenting plan?

If you have a child, or children, the court will require a parenting plan. This is a set of guidelines that typically includes agreements about parenting time, child support, tax exemptions and any other costs associated with rearing the child. The parenting plan can be ordered by the court or agreed upon by the parents.

4. Can my child decide where to live?

Ohio does not have a specific age requirement for when a child may voice where he or she would like to reside. The court may consider a child's wishes as part of determining the best interests of the child when deciding custody.

5. Can the custody order ever be changed?

Custody may be modified after the initial order has been finalized. In order to modify a custody order, the court must find that a change has taken place (to the child or either parent) and the change makes it necessary to modify the order to serve the best interests of the child.

If you are worried about how child custody will be determined for your child, contact Rieth Antonelli & Raj and speak to an experienced family law attorney. We can help you determine your child's best interests and maintain a healthy relationship with your spouse while resolving your custody dispute.

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the greater Cleveland area. We successfully resolve property division, child custody, spousal support, child support and related problems.

Although we resolve many cases through collaborative negotiations and other out-of-court methods,
our skilled lawyers are fully prepared to protect clients' interests in courtroom proceedings when necessary.

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