Legal issues involving children, such as the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities (child custody), are often the most difficult and sensitive matters in a divorce, dissolution, or separation. The attorneys at Melissa Graham-Hurd & Associates will work with you to ensure that your legal rights and the rights of your family are protected, regardless of which child-related issue you are facing. For over 35 years, Ms. Graham-Hurd has been helping Ohio clients obtain the custody, visitation and support solutions that are in their families’ best interest. For experienced advice and legal counsel you can trust, contact child custody lawyer Melissa Graham-Hurd today.
This procedure was formerly known as a determination of custody before 1991. It refers to the legally awarded rights and responsibilities for the care, custody and nurturing of children. These responsibilities and children’s rights can be awarded to one parent (sole allocation of parental rights) or to both parents (shared parenting). If both parents are awarded the responsibilities, a shared parenting plan must be drafted and submitted for court approval as a shared parenting order.
Why is it important to come to a custody agreement? Whether the parents agree to sole parenting or shared parenting, it is best if parents reach agreements about parenting time and decision-making. When parents reach agreements, they are more likely to cooperate as their children grow up and provide good role models on how people can agree to disagree without being unkind. Children do best when their parents cooperate and show respect to each other. Parental cooperation creates less stress for children.
Having the court make parenting decisions for you is the worst possible scenario. Although the court seeks to do what is best for your children, the court does not love your children like you and the other parent do. The primary decision makers for your children should be you and the other parent. Asking the court to decide where your children should live and when they get to see the other parent should be the course of last resort. Why let a judge decide matters that are so personal in nature? Attorney Melissa Graham-Hurd will work with you to achieve resolutions in a manner that allows you to protect your rights while also maintaining a civil relationship with the other parent for the sake of the children. Contact Ohio divorce attorney Melissa Graham-Hurd to schedule an initial consultation.
When a court determines how the rights and responsibilities are to be awarded between the parents (custody is to be ordered), it must consider certain factors:
What is shared parenting? A shared parenting plan is a written document (ideally prepared by both parents together, but can also be prepared by one parent and approved by the other parent or the court) that reflects what the parents believe to be in the best interests of the children regarding all aspects of their care for the child/children. If a plan can successfully be drafted and approved by the court, then the time, expense, and emotional trauma of a child custody trial can be avoided.
Shared parenting does not necessarily mean equal time with each parent. Shared parenting is more of an attitude than a practice. It continues the parenting relationships established when the parents and the child lived together as much as possible, given the separation.
Shared parenting plans must address:
Shared Parenting Plans also typically include provisions regarding life insurance on the parents’ lives for the benefit of the child, as well as payment and decision-making for extracurricular and sports activities. Parenting plans usually also determine what should happen when one parent dies or becomes temporarily unable to care for the children and indicate how to provide for future modifications of the Plan.
Parenting time (formerly known as visitation) is awarded by the court only if the allocation of parenting rights and responsibilities was awarded to one parent (sole custody). “Parenting time” is the scheduled time the child spends with the parent that he or she doesn’t live with most of the time (non-residential parent). There is no decision-making authority (legal custody) granted with parenting time. “Visitation” is also available for other people having an interest in the child’s welfare – see Rights of Grandparents, Relatives, and Other Non-Parents
The best parenting time schedule is one that is tailor-made for your children, keeping in mind their schedules and activities, their ages, their maturity, and their relationship with each parent. “Liberal” or “as agreed” parenting time orders are not usually approved by the court, as it prefers a written parenting time schedule in order to provide children and parents with predictability and consistency, and they can also prevent future conflict. Each county has a standard parenting time order, and those orders are different from place to place. Just because it is a Standard Order does not mean it is the right fit for your child.
The court must consider factors when determining parenting time schedules, including
Although a non-residential parent does not have decision-making authority over a child like the residential parent and legal custodian (including sole and shared parenting) does, he or she has certain rights under Ohio law, including:
Melissa Graham-Hurd is knowledgeable about Ohio child custody laws and can help you understand how they apply to your case. To discuss your legal options with a compassionate and experienced child custody lawyer in Ohio, contact attorney Melissa Graham-Hurd.