Family Law: Shared Parenting
"Shared parenting" is the term Ohio uses for what many other states refer to as "joint custody." The court may allocate the parental rights and responsibilities for the care of the children to both parents and issue a shared parenting order requiring the parents to share all or some of the aspects of the physical and legal care of the children. It does not necessarily mean an equal, 50/50 division of time with the children, child support, or any other issues.
How does the court determine whether to grant shared parenting?
If at least one parent asks the court to grant shared parenting the requesting parent must submit a proposed shared parenting plan that includes proposed provisions covering all factors that are relevant to the care of the children, including, but not limited to physical living arrangements, child support obligations, medical and dental care, school placement, and where the child will stay during legal holidays, school holidays, and other days of special importance. The court can also order the parent not requesting shared parenting to submit a proposed parenting plan. If both parties agree on shared parenting, they can submit a joint shared parenting plan.
The court must then review the proposed plan or plans and determine whether shared parenting is in the best interests of the child or children. If so, the court will decide which plan or plans submitted is in the best interest of the child. The plan submitted may be modified if ordered by the court.
When determining whether shared parenting is in the best interests of the child or children the court must consider all of the best interests of the child factors listed above, as well as:
- the parents' ability to cooperate and make decisions about the child jointly
- each parent's ability to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other parent
- any history of, or potential for, child abuse, spouse abuse, other domestic violence, or parental kidnapping by either parent
- the geographic proximity of the parents to each other, as it relates to the practical considerations of shared parenting, and
- the recommendation of the guardian ad litem of the child, if the child has one.
Can an allocation of parental rights and responsibilities be modified?
The court shall not modify a prior decree allocating parental rights and responsibilities for the care of children unless it finds, based on facts that have arisen since the prior decree or that were unknown to the court then, that a change has occurred in the circumstances of the child, the residential parent, or either of the parents subject to a shared parenting decree; and that the modification is necessary to serve the best interest of the child. In applying these standards, the court shall retain the residential parent designated by the prior decree or the prior shared parenting decree, unless a modification is in the best interest of the child and one of the following is true:
- The residential parent agrees to a change in the residential parent or both parents under a shared parenting decree agree to a change in the designation of residential parent.
- The child, with the consent of the residential parent or of both parents under a shared parenting decree, has been integrated into the family of the person seeking to become the residential parent.
- The harm likely to be caused by a change of environment is outweighed by the advantages of the change of environment to the child.
If you are considering filing for divorce, dissolution, or legal separation and you have minor children, contact Attorney Jeffrey G. Edleman in Amherst, Ohio to discuss the option of proposing a Shared Parenting Plan for care of the children. If you believe that a modification of an existing Shared Parenting Plan is in the best interest of your children, we can represent you in pursuing that avenue as well.
Jeffrey G. Edleman
Attorney At Law
260 S. Main St., Suite 108
Amherst, OH 44001
T: (440) 823-4077
F: (440) 984-3338