How the Courts Determine Who Gets Custody of a Child in Ohio

Parents normally share complete custody of a minor child, unless they go through a divorce, legal separation, annulment, or dissolution. If two parents are unable to agree on who will get custody of the minor child or children in a time like this, the courts will have to make the decision.

The decision of who will get custody varies on a case-by-base basis. Under Ohio law, judges are required to make a decision about parental rights and responsibilities based on a child’s best interest. They must inquire about the care and maintenance of the child in order to make an appropriate decision.

In the past, the courts typically granted custody to the mother, while the father provided child support. Today, child custody cases are no longer based on the gender of the parent. It has become increasingly common for fathers to win custody of their children. Although most custody disputes are between the father and mother, a third party may be involved in some cases, such as if one or both parents has passed away or if a parent is unable to care for a child.

Factors That the Courts Consider When Assigning Parental Rights

The primary goal of the court is to provide a stable environment for the child. A parent who cannot provide proper childcare or who does not have a stable work situation may not be able to get custody of a child. There are various factors that the courts must consider when determining which parent should get custody, including the following:

  • Employment status
  • Personality and disposition
  • Relationship with the child
  • Home environment
  • Physical and mental health
  • The parent’s motive in seeking custody
  • Child-rearing skills
  • Whether a parent or any member of a parent’s household has been convicted of or has pleaded guilty to domestic violence, a sexual offense, or any other crime

Other factors that the courts may consider include the impact that moving could have on the child and whether or not the parent plans to relocate with the child. The courts may also consider the child’s wishes regarding whom he or she wants to live with, if the child is old enough to make that decision.

Under Ohio law, unless a court order deems otherwise, the biological mother of a child born outside of wedlock is considered the legal custodian and sole residential parent of the child. Biological fathers do not have rights to custody or parenting time for children born outside of wedlock unless they pursue those rights in court. In order for a biological father to win custody, he must establish paternity and then bring an action for custody or parenting time before an Ohio juvenile court.

Joint Custody vs. Shared Custody

Joint custody, also known as shared parenting, is a parenting agreement in which both parents are considered the residential parent of the minor and both equally share in decision-making for the child. Sole custody is when one parent is designated as the custodial parent and has the right to make decisions in all matters concerning the child.

Once the courts make a decision regarding sole custody or joint custody, it can be difficult to overturn that decision. However, there are situations when a custody decision made by the court can be changed, such as if a custodial parent develops a drug or alcohol addiction or if a custodial parent is convicted of a crime and goes to prison.

As a parent, there is nothing more important to you than your children. If you’re going through a divorce or dealing with a custody dispute, having the help of an experienced child custody attorney can be invaluable.

Contact a Child Custody Attorney in Columbus, Ohio

If your family is facing child custody issues and you need a child custody attorney in Columbus, Ohio, contact us. At our law firm, children matter the most. We understand the impact that custody disputes can have on children and strongly encourage parents to put their children first and reach an amicable agreement. Our goal is to help children transition to a happy and positive future.