Ohio Child Custody – How To Win Fathers Custody Rights

It is the general received wisdom that in many court systems the judge will automatically assume the child will be better off with its mother. This is based in historical president, but it must always be remembered that fathers custody rights are important too.

As a father I found my self in the extremely painful position of having to fight my ex wife for visitation rights to my daughter. Let me just say this, regardless of how well you and your ex do or don’t get on there is definitely a best way to go about things to get the best deal. If you are too nice, or in any way complacent about things your other half’s lawyer will try to run roughshod over you. You need to put up an excellent fight or you may lose out on your rights completely, ending up only seeing your child once a month or even worse when it suits your ex.

Some people are led to believe that if their ex gets full custody in the first court, then they can go back to court and apply for joint custody. While this is true, as a strategy this way of doing things rarely works. Even visitation rights could be put in jeopardy using this strategy. At the end of the day the more times you end up going to court the less likely you are to see a positive result and get child custody rights you deserve.

When Dealing with the Ohio child custody system (or that of any other state) you need to get as much information and knowledge as you possibly can before your court date. This may be one of the most important days in your life as regards your relationship with your child and surely that makes it well worth preparing for.

You have to be willing to put up a good a fight for your fathers custody rights. Get everything worked out and every shred of possible information you can before going to court. It can only work in your favour. You of course need to get yourself the best lawyer you can afford (an Ohio child custody specialist if possible). But also dont be afraid to learn as much about the whole process as you can yourself.

Ohio State Custody & Support Guidelines

In child custody cases it is important to remember that either one of the parents may be awarded custody, the court shall not give any preference to a parent because of that individuals financial status or condition.

The court may give parental rights and responsibilities as regards care of the children primarily to one of the parents. The court may also designate that parent as the legal custodian and residential parent of the child, the other rights and responsibilities for the care of the children, including, but not limited to, the responsibility for the provision of support for the children. The right of the non residential parent to have ongoing contact with the children may also be designated as the court sees fit.

The last point there is the doozie “contact with the children may also be designated as the court sees fit”. Essentially this means that if you really fail to make a case for ongoing contact, or if your ex spouse makes a very strong case to disallow you contact you may be stuck having virtually no rights as regards seeing your children.

It goes on to say. When allocating parental rights and responsibilities, the court shall take into consideration the following factors:

  • The wishes of the child
  • The wishes of the parents regarding the child’s care
  • The child’s interaction and interrelationship with their parents, siblings, and any other significant persons that may affect affect the child’s best interests
  • The child’s adjustment to their home, school, and community
  • The mental and physical health of everyone involved in the situation
  • Whether either parent has established a residence, or is planning to establish a residence, outside this state
  • Whether either parent previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to any criminal offence involving any act that resulted in a child being an abused child or a neglected child
  • The parent more likely to facilitate court-approved parenting time rights or visitation rights

When determining whether a shared parenting arrangement is in the child’s  best interests, the court shall consider the following factors:

  • The ability of the parents to cooperate and make decisions jointly, with respect to the children
  • The ability of each parent 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 proximity of the parents to each other geographic, as this relates to the practical considerations of shared parenting
  • The recommendation of the guardian ad litem of the child, if the child has a guardian ad litem (Ad Litem is a legal term that refers to a party appointed by a court to act in a lawsuit on behalf of another party who is incapable of representing themselves. In this case this will sometimes be your child)

When considering your actions building up to your case or the building of your case always keep these factors as high in your mind as you can as they can make all the difference between a satisfactory sharing of parenting and decent visitation rights and a very unsatisfactory result.

What is Alternative Dispute Resolution?

Alternate dispute resolution (ADR) can take many forms, but one widely cited definition from the Legal Information Institute at Cornell University is that an alternative dispute resolution is “any means of settling disputes outside of the courtroom.” In family law matters, pursuing an ADR can spare loved ones the time, expense, and emotional hardship of a lengthy court trial. ADRs also usually yields outcomes that all parties to a dispute find more equitable and acceptable.

As Ohio divorce lawyers and family law attorneys, our legal team often advises and represents clients who opt to use alternative dispute resolution processes in cases involving

  • Division of property following divorce, marriage dissolution, or legal separation
  • Spousal support/alimony
  • Child custody
  • Child visitation
  • Modification of court orders involving custody, visitation, and support payments

Conciliation, neutral evaluation, arbitration, and mediation are the ADR procedures used most frequently in family law cases. We briefly describe each below.

Conciliation

A conciliation hearing takes the form of a structured negotiation conducted directly between the parties to a dispute. As a legal term, conciliation is another word for compromise. Parties who agree to pursue conciliation as an alternate dispute resolution process agree beforehand to each give up some of what they would consider their best outcome in order to avoid a trial. Attorneys play a significant role in consulting with a client before the conciliation session by helping the person determine what they can live without in order to secure the things they cannot live without.

Neutral Evaluation

Neutral evaluations involve each side presenting their case to an experienced third party who is neither a judge nor otherwise involved with the dispute in any way. Each client’s legal team presents their evidence, testimony, and arguments to the neutral evaluator separately, and the evaluator issues an opinion on the relative strengths and weaknesses of the two cases. That opinion can be binding if the parties in dispute agree to accept it. Often, the opinion resulting from a neutral evaluation becomes advisory, providing insight that one or both parties to the dispute use to improve their chances of succeeding during a trial before an actual judge.

Arbitration

Parties who agree to submit to arbitration commit themselves to abiding by the decision of the arbitrator who hears each party’s case. Attorneys can trade inquiries before the start of the arbitration hearing, but the hearing itself involves only presentations to the arbitrator. The arbitrator’s decision favors one party over the other, making arbitration the ADR process most similar to a court trial in effect.

Mediation

Mediation closely resembles conciliation because both involve negotiation. During a mediation hearing, however, the disputing parties receive assistance from an expert and neutral third party who listens to each person, summarizes the statements made, points out areas of agreement, and suggests ways to resolve disagreements. Divorce court judges often order spouses to try reaching mediated settlements before going to trial, especially when only a single issue stands in the way of having the couple end their marriage amicably. Attorneys are involved in each stage of mediation, helping their clients decide what their preferred outcome is, advising on offers made by the other party, and counseling on how to propose resolutions.

Alternate dispute resolution procedures play a large role in family law. To learn more about ADR, or to get assistance with a conciliation, neutral evaluation, arbitration, or mediation, call or contact us online to schedule an appointment.

What Rights Do I Have as an Ohio Grandparent?

Answering the question posed in the title is complicated, but allow us to start with the best news: Ohio law grants grandparents rights to adopt grandchildren from unsafe or unhealthy home situations and to retain visitation rights following a divorce or marriage dissolution. Where things become difficult, and where an Ohio child custody lawyer  can be of assistance, is that both of those rights exist primarily in relation to the grandparents’ relationship with the grandchild’s birth parent. The best interests of the child are also always taken into consideration, and a grandparent is often asked to speak to that.

For instance, a wife who divorces her child’s father and retains custody can confer child visitation rights to her own parents. Such an arrangement can be agreed to through mediation or ordered by a judge following a divorce hearing. Getting the arrangement in writing is important, though, in order to have a contract that can be enforced in court.

Still, even such a legally certified grandparent visitation arrangement could then be voided if the wife subsequently loses custody to the birth father, gives up the grandchild for adoption to a third party, or gets remarried and the new stepparent successfully contests the earlier visitation arrangement.

In cases where a grandparent, alone or as a member of a married couple, attempts to adopt a grandchild, either of the birth parents can contest the adoption petition. An existing custodial order under which a grandchild lives with a grandchild can also be challenged after months or years by a birth parent.

The reverse, however, is rarely true. If a stepparent or third party files to adopt their grandchild, grandparents have almost no statutory grounds for contesting the petition. A grandparent also has few options other than offering opinions on what is in the child’s best interest when it comes to a divorcing mother or father requesting sole custody.

Our Ohio child custody lawyers have helped many grandparents conclude adoptions and fight for the preservation of visitation arrangements. If you want to give your own grandchild a forever, loving home or just stay involved in their life following the end of a relationship between your own child and someone else, contact us online or call us.

Adoption Procedures in Ohio

Adopting a child can be the most rewarding and beautiful gift you give your family and the child you adopt. This is a very big decision, and here are a few of the procedures you should be prepared for in going through the legal adoption process in Ohio

  1. Choose an Attorney to Assist through the Process: Learn about adoption law and engage with an attorney who specializes in adoption. You want someone on your side who understands the ins-and-outs of the adoption process, is familiar with timelines associated with various adoption processes, and who can help you avoid pitfalls as you go through the adoption process.
  2. Choose an Agency: In Ohio, every county has a Department of Child and Family Services that provides adoption and foster care services. There are also private adoption agencies to choose from. Be sure whoever you deal with is licensed by the Ohio Department of Job & Family Services. Public agencies provide no-cost adoption services to qualified applicants who want to adopt children in the foster care system. When working with private agencies, which may be either nonprofit or for profit, adoptive parents pay the adoption fee, unless the agency is contracting with the Ohio Department of Job & Family Services to provide no-cost adoptions to families adopting children in the foster care system.
  3. Make the Application: The application will ask about your family background and a description of the child you would like to adopt.
  4. Attend Pre-Service Training: This is adoption education training which must be completed before a home study is approved. This helps prepare potential adoptive parents for the process and the various stages of the adoption process, as well as some of the challenges of adoption. If an assessor determines that you’ve already received the training or that you already have the skills to care for a child, this requirement may be waived.
  5. Complete the Home Study: This process helps to determine if you’re suitable to adopt. This will generally include personal interviews, home visits, health records, financial records, character references, adoption education, and criminal background checks.
  6. Work with Your Case Worker to Find the Right Child: The case worker assigned to your case will look at the characteristics of the child you’d be best suited to parent, based on your home study.
  7. Visit your Child: Once a child has been identified, the caseworker will arrange a time to meet and advise on who should be there and some suggested activities. Subsequent visits may also be arranged.
  8. Bring your Child Home: After the pre-placement visits, it is time to bring your child into your home. The caseworker will visit periodically to be sure things are going well.
  9. Legalize the Adoption in Court: This occurs by first filing the petition for adoption, attending the hearing on the adoption, receiving the decree of adoption, and having the birth certificate sealed and reissued.

Ohio Adoption Attorney

Our family attorneys understand the challenges involved in adoption and place a priority on getting you through the legal complexities and into the joys and fulfillment of parenthood by adoption. Our experienced attorneys can help you on this journey.

What Rights Do I Have as a Father if I Never Married My Child’s Mother?

According to Ohio law, “an unmarried female who gives birth to a child is the sole residential parent and legal custodian of the child until a court of competent jurisdiction issues an order designating another person as the residential parent and legal custodian. A court designating the residential parent and legal custodian of a child described in this section shall treat the mother and father as standing upon an equality when making the designation.”

So in order for a father to have visitation and other parental rights, he must apply for a court order. There are many ways a father can establish paternity in these cases, which is a step towards gaining those custodial or visitation rights with your child.  The first way to claim paternity is with an affidavit called the Paternity Acknowledgement Affidavit. This is done shortly after the child’s birth, or it can be done later at the local registrar, health department, or child support enforcement agency. It must be done with the mother’s consent. Dads need to be aware that filing the affidavit takes away the option of having DNA testing to establish paternity.

And that brings us to the second way to establish paternity, which is through DNA testing. The appropriate child support enforcement agency may issue an order for DNA testing, especially where the mother is on welfare or other state support. The mother’s consent is also required in this instance.

The third way to establish paternity is by a court order. This is when the father files with the court, and the court orders paternity testing and the mother’s consent is not required. Unmarried dads may also get visitation while they’re in the process of establishing paternity through these methods.

The court will also look at your history with the child. Have you paid child support? Have you been involved in the child’s life to whatever extent possible? Have you attempted to have a regular visitation with the child? These are all factors that court will consider in looking at visitation and custodial issues.

Central Ohio Custody Attorney

Our custody attorneys understand the challenges involved in custody disputes and place a priority on getting you through the legal complexities of this difficult time in the best way possible. The assistance of a custody attorney who has a wealth of experience to call upon in serving your needs as a client at this challenging and trying time is essential in the custody process.