Understanding Joint Custody in Ohio

Currently, parents in the midst of a contentious child custody battle must prove that joint custody is in the child’s best interest. Otherwise, a judge typically mandates sole custody for one parent while the other has visitation rights. However, a new bill (set to be introduced soon) may change that. 

If the new bill is passed, it will make joint custody / shared parenting the “default position” for parents going through a contested divorce (the current position is that one parent gets most of the parenting time). 

Similar laws have passed in other states, and now, the Ohio legislature is making a move to change how child custody is determined in contested divorces (but they haven’t changed yet). 

So if you are in the middle of a contested divorce that involves child custody, now is the time to consult with a proven family law lawyer. 

Contact The Law Office of Dmitriy Borschak to learn how the new child custody laws could affect you and how you should operate under the current laws. 

Differences Between Joint Physical Custody and Sole Custody in Ohio

In most cases, Ohio family court judges prefer shared parenting over sole custody. However, the burden is on the parents and their child custody lawyer to prove to the court that joint custody is in the best interest of the child. 

That’s not always easy. Especially if it’s a contested divorce and one spouse accuses the other of being an unfit parent. 

With that in mind, it’s essential to understand the difference between joint physical custody and sole custody in Ohio before going to court. Learn more about each below. 

  • Joint Custody / Shared Parenting: Joint custody essentially splits parenting duties, responsibilities, and time with children (ideally 50/50, but not always the case).
  • Sole Custody: Sole custody gives one parent primary custody while the other parent can see their child based on an approved visitation schedule. If sole legal custody is granted, only one parent has the right to make important decisions about the child’s life (i.e., education, medical treatment, etc.).

How Does a Judge Determine The Best Interest of a Child?

According to ORC 3109.14, Ohio courts determine what’s in a child’s best interest by analyzing the following criteria, but not limited to:

  • The mental and physical condition of each parent 
  • Past allegations of abuse or neglect perpetrated by either parent 
  • The relationship the child has with each parent 
  • The ability of each parent to provide a safe environment for the child
  • The desires of the parents 
  • Past child custody or visitation violations (custodial interference)

It’s important to note that a judge is not obligated to consider a child’s preference. However, depending on the circumstances, they may consider a child’s desires when making custodial decisions.

Do I Have to Pay Child Support if I Have Joint Custody?

Potentially, yes. In many cases, one parent must pay child support to the other. The family court typically uses the same formula to calculate child support in Ohio. They consider factors like (but not limited to): 

  • Income of both parents 
  • Unequal parenting time if shared custody (i.e., one parent has custody 35% of the time)

Should the court find a significant difference in either of the categories mentioned above, they are more likely to order child support in joint custody cases.

What is Custodial Interference in Ohio?

Regarding divorce in Ohio, custodial interference occurs when one parent violates the terms of their custodial agreement or parenting plan. 

That includes examples like refusing to return the child to the other parent, neglecting to avail the child when it’s the other parent’s scheduled time, etc.

 It’s important to note that custodial interference is illegal in Ohio. Penalties can include jail time, fines, mandatory therapy, and a negative impact on child custody.

Contact a Proven Family Law Lawyer in Columbus Today

If the recently proposed legislation becomes law, it will help thousands of parents seeking joint custody. However, under the current circumstances, individuals who desire to share custody are recommended to hire an experienced divorce attorney in Ohio. 

Neglecting to hire an attorney can make an already contentious divorce even more challenging. 

Our divorce attorneys at The Law Office of Dmitriy Borschak have unmatched experience concerning divorce in Ohio (including negotiations outside of court), child custody, and parenting plans.  

Contact us today at 614-334-6851 for your free initial consultation.