What You Need to Know About Ohio Custody Laws

August 12, 2014

Child Custody Lawyer Columbus

Best Interest of the Child

Anyone dealing with the challenges of deciding child custody needs to understand Ohio’s child custody laws. At Edward F. Whipps & Associates, nothing is more important than the children involved in a family law matter.

In Ohio, the Courts strongly recommend and encourage the parties to mediate custody issues and to come to a joint decision on child custody. If custody of the minor child(ren) cannot be agreed upon by the parties, then the court will look to O.R.C. 3109.04, which requires the court to take into account the best interest of the minor child(ren). In determining the best interest of the child(ren), the court is required to consider all relevant factors.

An Ohio family court will utilize the following factors to determine best interest of the child:

  • The child’s wishes
  • The child’s relationship with the parents, siblings, and extended family members
  • The child’s adjustment to home, school, and community
  • The mental and physical health of all parties involved
  • Whether parents have regularly made child support payments
  • Which parent is more likely to honor the court-approved visitation and custody order
  • Each parent’s willingness to encourage the relationship between the child and the other parent
  • Any history of abuse or domestic violence
  • The geographical proximity of parents

After you present evidence on the matter of custody and the Court admits the evidence, the Court will apply the evidence to the above factors in order to make its determination. Once the Court makes its determination it will issue a custody order. The custody granted to parents varies on a case-by-case basis.

In Ohio, the court hearing your case must decide where the children will live and which parent is responsible for making certain decisions regarding the children. This is by a written court order. This process is known as “allocating parental rights and responsibilities.” Parents may be allocated “sole residential” (once known as “legal custody”) or “shared parenting” (once known as “joint custody”). A parent who is the sole residential parent has the right to make major decisions about the children’s health, education and religious upbringing. Parents who have shared parenting make such decisions together, unless otherwise specified in the order.

The Ohio Supreme Court has issued a guide called Ohio’s Guide For Parents Living Apart. The guide discusses the importance of preserving the children’s relationship with the parents:

Raising children presents challenges. When parents live in separate homes, the challenges are greater because relationships become more complicated. Sometimes parents disagree about how much time children should spend with each parent. Unless special circumstances exist, preserving a healthy and ongoing relationship between children and both parents after divorce or separation is of greatest importance. Positive involvement with both parents furthers the child’s emotional and social development, academic achievement, and overall adjustment.

The attorneys at Edward F. Whipps & Associates have a unique understanding of the emotional challenges involved in custody cases. That’s why we often have psychological evaluations conducted on each parent for custody cases. These evaluations help the Court understand what is in the best interest of the child. When you and your family are facing custody and parenting time issues, you can rely on Edward F. Whipps & Associates to help you and your children transition to a happy and positive future. This is truly a law firm where Children Matter Most.

To arrange a mutually convenient time for your initial consultation, contact the Columbus office at (614) 398-4182 or the Dublin office at (614) 461-6007 or toll free at (877) 367-6544.

Change in Child Custody Laws

At Edward F. Whipps & Associates, we are child custody attorneys in Columbus, Ohio dedicated to staying up to date on the laws that affect our clients. As a courtesy, we want to provide notice to our clients that there will be a change in the law. The Franklin County Domestic Court is Changing Local Rule 27. In Franklin County, the Domestic Court uses Local Rule 27 as a model for parenting time.

The Old Rule

Local Rule 27 provides the following:

PARENTING TIME BETWEEN THE CHILDREN AND THE NON-RESIDENTIAL PARENT SHALL TAKE PLACE AT SUCH TIMES AND PLACES AS THE PARTIES MAY AGREE, BUT WILL NOT BE LESS THAN:

1.  Weekends:  Alternate weekends from Friday at 6:00 p.m. until Sunday at 6:00 p.m.  This alternating weekend schedule shall not change, even when interrupted by holiday and birthday, summer and/or vacation parenting time.  (See Section 5a below)

2.  Weekdays:  One weekday evening per week from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. which shall be Wednesday unless otherwise agreed and designated herein

The New Rule

Local Rule 27, however, will change soon. Local Rule 27 states Effective September 2, 2014, until further order of the court, Franklin County Ohio will be using the following schedule as their local visitation Rule 27.1 (Domestic Court) and Rule 22.1 (Juvenile Court).  The new rule is provided in full below:

 

LOCAL DOMESTIC COURT RULE 27.1 / LOCAL JUVENILE COURT RULE 22.1

*This rule applies to orders and entries journalized effective September 2, 2014.

MODEL PARENTING TIME SCHEDULE
FRANKLIN COUNTY COMMON PLEAS COURT
DOMESTIC AND JUVENILE DIVISIONS

FOR PARENTS TRAVELING UNDER 90 MILES ONE WAY:

This schedule is merely a guideline for parenting time. It is the parties’ responsibility to tailor this schedule as necessary to meet the best interests of their children and their situation before the schedule becomes a court order.

Liberal parenting time arrangements are encouraged, as contact with both parents is important to the children. Specific items in the Journal Entry take precedence over this schedule. Changes or modifications can be made by the Court if need for such is shown. This schedule does not affect support payments.

Activities you engage in with your children, skills you teach them, or friends you help them make will make their time with you more rewarding. Additionally, regardless of how much time each parent spends with the children, there are many opportunities to be involved in their lives, such as participation and attendance at their school, sporting and extracurricular activities.

PARENTING TIME BETWEEN THE CHILDREN AND THE PARENTS SHALL TAKE PLACE AT SUCH TIMES AND PLACES AS THE PARTIES MAY AGREE, BUT IN ABSENCE OF AGREEMENT SHALL BE (SELECT ONE):

____ OPTION A:

1. The children shall reside equally with both parents on an alternating weekly basis. The children shall transition from one parent’s residence to the other every Sunday at 6:00 p.m. unless the parties agree upon a different day and time.

2. The parent who is not exercising weekly parenting time shall be entitled to spend one weekday evening with the children from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m., which shall be Wednesday unless otherwise agreed. The parent exercising weekday evening parenting time shall be responsible for picking up AND returning the children for this parenting time.

____ OPTION B:

1. Weekends: Alternate weekends from Friday at 6:00 p.m. until Monday at 6:00 p.m. This alternating weekend schedule shall not change, even when interrupted by holiday and birthday, summer and/or vacation parenting time. (See Section 5a below)

2. Weekdays: Mother/Father (circle one) shall have parenting time with the children each Monday beginning at 6:00 p.m. until drop-off to school/daycare on Wednesday (or 6:00 p.m. if no school), Mother/Father (circle the other parent) shall have parenting time with the children from Wednesday after school (or 6:00 p.m. if no school) until drop-off to school/daycare on Friday (or 6:00 p.m. if no school).

____ OPTION C:

1. Weekends: Alternate weekends from Friday at 6:00 p.m. until Monday at 6:00 p.m. This alternating weekend schedule shall not change, even when interrupted by holiday and birthday, summer and/or vacation parenting time. (See Section 5a below)

2. Weekdays: Mother/ Father (circle one) shall have one weekday overnight per week from 6:00 p.m. until the next morning to school/day care or 8:00 a.m., whichever is applicable. This overnight shall be Wednesday unless otherwise agreed. The parent exercising weekday overnight parenting time shall be responsible for all transportation during this parenting time. The other parent shall have the remaining weekday parenting time.

____ OPTION D:

1. Weekends: Alternate weekends from Friday at 6:00 p.m. until Sunday at 6:00 p.m. This alternating weekend schedule shall not change, even when interrupted by holiday and birthday, summer and/or vacation parenting time. (See Section 5a below)

2. Weekdays: Mother/Father (circle one) shall have one weekday evening per week from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. which shall be Wednesday unless otherwise agreed. The parent exercising weekday evening parenting time shall be responsible for picking up AND returning the children for this parenting time. The other parent shall have the remaining weekday parenting time.

3. Extracurricular Activities: Regardless of where the children are living, their participation in existing and renewed extracurricular activities, school related or otherwise, shall continue uninterrupted. The parent with whom they are residing at the time of the activity shall provide the transportation to these activities. Notice of all extracurricular activities, school related, or otherwise, in which the children participate, schedules of all extracurricular activities (handwritten, if no formal schedule is provided by the activity) and the name of the activity leader (including address and telephone number if reasonably available) shall be exchanged between the parents.

4. Holidays: In odd-numbered years, mother has Martin Luther King Day, Spring Break, Fourth of July, Beggar’s Night, and the first half of Winter Break. In odd-numbered years, father has President’s Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and the second half of Winter Break. In the even-numbered years, the schedules are reversed.

a. In the event of a conflict between regular parenting time and holiday parenting time, holiday parenting time prevails. The alternating weekend parenting time continues, however, as if the holiday had not intervened. This means that one parent may have the children three weekends in a row. This process equalizes itself over the course of time for each parent.

For a holiday falling on a Friday, parenting time commences Thursday at 6:00 p.m. and continues to Sunday evening at 6:00 p.m.; or for a holiday falling on a Monday, parenting time commences Friday at 6:00 p.m. and continues to Monday at 6:00 p.m.

b. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are to be spent with the appropriate parent. These are as agreed or 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. These do not have to be made up.

c. Other days of special meaning, such as Religious Holidays, parents’ and children’s birthdays, and other school days off shall be as determined by the parties. If the parties cannot agree, then the regular Weekday/Weekend parenting time schedule shall take precedence.

d. Hours for parents who cannot agree are as follows: Martin Luther King Day (6:00 p.m. on Friday to 6:00 p.m. on Monday); President’s Day (6:00 p.m. on Friday to 6:00 p.m. on Monday); Spring Break (6:00 p.m. on the day school is out to 6:00 p.m. the day before school recommences); Memorial Day and Labor Day (6:00 p.m. Friday to 6:00 p.m. Monday); July 4th (6:00 p.m. on July 3 to 6:00 p.m. on July 4); Beggar’s Night (4:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.); Thanksgiving (6:00 p.m. on the day school lets out to 6:00 p.m. Sunday); Winter Break (first half commences at 6:00 p.m. the day school lets out, until December 25 at 6:00 p.m.; second half commences at 6:00 p.m. December 25 until 6:00 p.m. the day before school recommences).

e. 48-hour notice should be given by the parent with whom the holiday is being spent for any arrangements for out of town travel on the holidays or of a change in pick-up/return times.

5. Summer: (Applies only if either Option B, C, or D is selected above). Each parent shall exercise parenting time with the children in two week blocks of time with the Mother/Father (circle one) exercising the first two week block. Alternating weekends shall continue so that each parent has time with the children during the other parent’s two week block. The summer schedule commences the day after the children are out of school and continues until seven (7) days before school begins.

6. Vacations: Each parent may arrange an uninterrupted vacation of not more than two (2) weeks with the children. Each parent shall schedule this vacation during his/her time during the summer (For parents with Option A as their regular parenting time schedule, each parent may arrange either two one-week vacations to take place only during his/her time or they may arrange one two-week vacation using one week of each parent’s time, which shall only be permitted if a two-week vacation is scheduled). The vacationing parent shall notify the other parent and provide a general itinerary of the vacation to the other parent, including dates, locations, addresses, and telephone numbers, no later than thirty (30) days prior to the scheduled vacation. Holiday and birthday celebrations with either parent shall not be missed, requiring scheduling of the vacation around these events. Parenting time with the other parent is missed during vacation, and there is no requirement that it be made up. Parents shall notify each other of their vacation plans by May 31 each year, and in the event of a conflict, mother’s schedule shall prevail in odd-numbered years; father’s schedule shall prevail in even-numbered years.

7. Communication:

a. Children can communicate with either parent as often as they wish, at reasonable times and frequencies, via telephone or electronic means (e.g. text, Skype, Facetime).

b. In addition, the non-possessory parent shall be entitled to telephone or electronic (i.e. FaceTime, Skype) communication of reasonable duration with the children not less than three times per week.

c. Neither parent shall excessively interfere with nor stop the telephone or electronic communication.

8. Transportation: With the exception of weekday evening parenting time (options A, C, and D), the parties shall divide the transportation equally. The parent who is exercising parenting time shall pick up the children. The parent exercising weekday evening parenting time (Options A, C, and D) shall be responsible for picking up AND returning the children for this parenting time. Unless otherwise ordered by the court or agreed by the parents, drop off/pick up shall be at the parents’ respective homes, the children’s school, or day care, whichever is applicable.

In Option B, the parent who has the children from Monday at 6:00 p.m. to Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. is the parent responsible for picking up the children from school/day care on Monday afternoon and taking the children to school/day care on Wednesday morning, and the parent who has the children from Wednesday at 6:00 p.m until Friday at 6:00 p.m. is responsible for picking the children up from school/day care on Wednesday afternoon and taking them to school/day care on Friday morning. The parent who has the weekend is responsible for picking up the children from school/day care on Friday afternoon and taking them to school/day care on Monday morning. The 6:00 p.m. time on exchange days only applies when a child is not attending school or day care on that day, and in that circumstance, the parent who is beginning their parenting time shall pick the children up from the other parent at 6:00 p.m. that day.

The parties may designate a licensed, insured driver known to the children to provide any of this transportation, if necessary.

9. Moving: Upon either parent learning that he/she will be moving, he/she shall immediately notify the other parent, but not less than sixty (60) days prior to the move except in those circumstances wherein notice is not required by R.C. 3109.051(G), and provide the other parent with the moving date, new residence address and telephone number, and such other pertinent information necessary to effectuate a smooth move for the children. The parents shall attempt, in good faith, to renegotiate an appropriate and beneficial new parenting time schedule.

10. Waiting: Neither parent shall be more than 30 minutes late picking up the children without notice to the other parent. If the non-possessory parent has not arrived to pick up the children within the 30 minute period and has failed to contact the possessory parent, parenting time may be forfeited in the possessory parent’s discretion and shall not be required to be made up.

11. Cancellation: The non-possessory parent should give 24 hour notice to cancel. The time cancelled by the non-possessory parent is forfeited.

12. Illness: If a child is ill, the possessory parent should give 24 hours notice, if possible, so appropriate plans can be made to accommodate the child’s illness. However, parenting time shall not be denied or forfeited based upon a child’s illness unless it is pursuant to written orders by a licensed medical professional. If any parenting time, weekend, holiday/birthday, or vacation is missed due to non-emergency and/or critical illness, then any missed parenting time shall be made up as provided in paragraph 13. All prescribed medication shall be exchanged between the parents.

13. Make-Up Parenting time: Any make-up parenting time required by this schedule shall occur the first weekend of the other parent immediately following the missed parenting time and shall continue during the other parent’s weekends until made up in full, including partial weekends.

14. Current Address and Telephone Number: Except as provided in the court order, each parent shall keep the other informed of his/her current address, home, cell and work telephone numbers, and a regularly accessible e-mail address at all times.

Emergency Contact: Both parents shall at all times, regardless of whether the children are with him/her, provide the other parent with a telephone number for contact in the event of an emergency.

15. Car Seat: Every parent shall have and utilize a car seat and booster seat as required by law.

16. Clothing: The parents shall cooperate in the exchange of the children’s clothing prior to and following parenting time.

17. Pre-School Age: Unless otherwise agreed, pre-school age children follow the same schedule of school age children in the school district where they live regardless of whether or not other school age children live in the family. Frequent contact with both parents each week is recommended for very young children.

18. Infants (Birth to 18 Months): The court recognizes that parenting time with infants carries unique concerns because of the required skills of the parents and the needs of the child. It is important that both parents are able to observe, share, and participate in activities with the infant. When possible, it is encouraged that the non-residential or non-custodial parent have parenting time with the child that is shorter in duration but occurs more frequently. Unless otherwise ordered or agreed upon by the parents, the following schedule shall be utilized for children from birth through eighteen months:

a.   The non-residential or non-custodial parent shall have parenting time for a twenty-four hour period each weekend, from Friday at 6:00 p.m. to Saturday at 6:00 p.m. the first weekend; from Saturday at 6:00 p.m. until Sunday at 6:00 p.m. the second weekend, and alternating these time periods each weekend thereafter. Weekday parenting time shall be on Tuesday and Thursday from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m.

b.  Holiday parenting time shall not be observed, except as follows: The non-residential or non-custodial parent shall have the child for Thanksgiving parenting time from Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. until Thursday evening at 8 p.m., Winter Break parenting time from 6 p.m. Christmas Eve to 6 p.m. Christmas Day in even-numbered years or 6 p.m. Christmas Day to 6 p.m. December 26 in odd-numbered years, Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends from 6 p.m. Sunday to 6 p.m. Monday, and Mother’s Day or Father’s Day (whichever is applicable) from 12 p.m. until 6 p.m.

    c.   The non-residential or non-custodial parent shall be responsible for all transportation to exercise the above parenting time.

The parties shall communicate regarding sleep schedules, feeding schedules, and any special dietary or other considerations for the child. The non-residential or non-custodial parents shall follow these schedules and considerations so as to make the transition between homes as seamless as possible for the infant child.

MODEL PARENTING TIME SCHEDULE

FRANKLIN COUNTY COMMON PLEAS COURT

DOMESTIC AND JUVENILE DIVISIONS

FOR PARENTS TRAVELING OVER 90 MILES ONE WAY

This schedule is merely a guideline for parenting time. It is the parties’ responsibility to tailor this schedule as necessary to meet the best interests of their children and their situation before the schedule becomes a court order.

Liberal parenting time arrangements are encouraged, as contact with both parents is important to the children. Specific items in the Journal Entry take precedence over this schedule. Changes or modifications can be made by the Court if need for such is shown. This schedule does not affect support payments.

Activities you engage in with your children, skills you teach them, or friends you help them make will make their time with you more rewarding. Additionally, regardless of how much time each parent spends with the children, there are many opportunities to be involved in their lives, such as participation and attendance at their school, sporting and extracurricular activities.

PARENTING TIME BETWEEN THE CHILDREN AND THE NON-RESIDENTIAL PARENT SHALL TAKE PLACE AT SUCH TIMES AND PLACES AS THE PARTIES MAY AGREE, BUT WILL NOT BE LESS THAN:

  1. Pre-School Age: Unless otherwise agreed, pre-School age children shall follow the same schedule as school age children in the school district where they live, whether or not a school age child resides in the family. Frequent contact with both parents is recommended for very young children.
  2. Winter Break: Winter Break will be divided in half and alternated annually, by half, between the parents.

3. Spring Break: The non-residential parent shall be entitled to the entire school vacation (the day school is out to the day before school recommences) in odd-numbered years.

4. Summer: Each parent shall be entitled to one half of the school summer vacation. Summer school necessary for the child(ren) to pass to the next grade must be attended. The residential parent shall notify the non-residential parent by March 15 of when the summer vacation begins and ends. The non-residential parent must notify the residential parent as to their intentions by April 15.

a.    If the parties cannot agree which half of the summer they prefer, in the even-numbered years, the first half of the summer shall be spent at the home of the non-residential parent, and in the odd-numbered years, the second half.

b.    A general itinerary should be provided either parent if more than 2 days will be spent away from either home when the children are in that parent’s care.

5. Vacations: Each parent may arrange an uninterrupted vacation of not more than two weeks with the children. If this includes a trip away from home a general itinerary of the vacation shall be provided for the other parent, including dates, locations, addresses, and telephone numbers.

6. Additional Parenting time:

a. Weekend: A once-a-month, weekend visit to the non‑residential parent’s home shallbe permitted if the child’s traveling time does not exceed THREE AND ONE HALF HOURS, one way. The residential parent must be notified at least one week in advance. THE NONRESIDENTIAL PARENT SHALL PROVIDE THE TRANSPORTATION FOR WEEKEND PARENTING TIME.

b. Father’s Day and Mother’s Day shouldalways be spent with the appropriate parent.

c. The non‑residential parent shall notify the residential parent as least two days in advance of any time the non‑residential parent will be in the area and wants parenting time. Absent extraordinary circumstances, this parenting time shall occur.

d. The residential parent shallnotify the non‑residential parent at least two days in advance when the residential parent and child(ren) will be in the area of the non‑residential parent, and parenting time must be allowed.

7. Telephone Access:

a.  Children can call either parent as often as they wish, at reasonable times, so long as the call is collect if it is a long distance call.

b.  In addition, the non-possessory parent shall be entitled to telephone communication with the children not less than three times per week for not less than 15 minutes per call.

c. Possessory parent shall not interfere with or stop telephone communication.

8. Transportation: Responsibility for transportation costs should be decided in advance and a plan written into an Order of the Court. The costs of transportation, in the appropriate case, may be a basis for deviation from the child support schedule. Parties shall also decide and provide in the plan where the child(ren) shall be picked up and dropped off.

9. Moving: Upon either parent learning or determining, whichever first occurs, that he/she will be moving, he/she will immediately notify the other parent and provide the other parent with the moving date, new residence address and telephone number, and such other pertinent information necessary to effectuate a smooth move for the children. The parents shall attempt, in good faith, to renegotiate an appropriate and beneficial new parenting time schedule.

10. Current Address and Telephone Number: Except as provided in the court order, each parent shall keep the other informed of his/her current address and telephone number at all times.

Emergency Contact: Both parents shall at all times, regardless of whether the children are with him/her, provide the other parent with a telephone number for contact in the event of an emergency.

11. Car Seat: For any and all children required by law to ride in a car seat, the parents shall transfer the car seat with the child as parenting time exchanges occur.

12. Clothing: The parents shall cooperate in the exchange of the children’s clothing prior to and following parenting time.

(Effective September 2, 2014)

At Edward F. Whipps & Associates Children Matter Most. Because of our dedication to children and our clients, we have provided this update on child custody laws in Franklin County. At Edward F. Whipps & Associates we have 30 years of experience keeping up with the cutting edge of child custody laws. We understand that while “standard” schedules are sometimes appropriate, a “one size fits all” approach is often not the best approach. Parents need attorneys who can effectively open the court’s eyes to the family’s specific situation and the child’s best interest. The attorneys at Edward F. Whipps & Associates have access to a wide range of professionals with whom they work to assist in the framing of parenting schedules.

To arrange a mutually convenient time for your initial consultation you may contact the Columbus office at (614) 398-4282 or the Dublin office at (614) 461-6007 or toll free at (877) 367-6544.

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