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The Basics of Ohio Child Custody Law



Child custody is a term that refers to the legal assignment of responsibilities and rights related to the care of a child. According to Ohio child custody law, the decisions the courts make about child custody reflect the best interests of the child or children involved.

Determining what is in a childs best interests means taking into account a variety of factors, including:

  • The childs or parents wishes
  • The childs interaction with the parents, any siblings, or any others who may be involved in the childs life
  • The childs adjustment to surroundings including home, school, and community
  • The mental and physical health of all individuals involved
  • Whether either of the parents lives, or plans to live, out of state

Going to Court

In the state of Ohio, two courts may decide child custody matters. Child custody issues that result from a divorce or that arise during a divorce are handled by a Domestic Relations Court. If the custody issue occurs between parents who are not married, a Juvenile Court hears and rules on the matter. An Ohio child custody lawyer will help you file your custody request with the proper court.

If the parents agree on a custody plan and file a motion together, the court will review the plan to see if it is in the best interest of the child. If it is, the court will approve it. If not, the court will require the parents to make the appropriate changes.

If the parents do not agree and file separate plans, the court will review them both to see which is in the childs best interest. The court still may require changes to the plan it selects.

Division of Rights and Responsibilities under Ohio Child Custody Law

Ohio courts may award custody in one of two ways:

  • Solely or primarily to one of the two parents
  • In a shared parenting order
  • In the first instance, one parent is the legal custodian of the child and has the child live with him or her. The other parent still has rights, such as for continued contact with the child, and responsibilities, such as for payment to support the child. In the second situation, both parents share at least some of the physical and legal care of the child under the court-approved plan.

    To determine which of these options is in the best interest of the child, the court may investigate the parents in the following areas:

    • Character
    • Family relations
    • Past conduct
    • Earning ability
    • Financial worth

    In accordance with child custody laws in Ohio, the court may order the parents and/or the child to submit to medical, psychological, or psychiatric exams. The court also may interview the child in chambers to learn how he or she would like custody to be awarded. The information from the exams and the interview may be useful in determining the best situation for the child.

    Ohio Child Support

    Anyone with questions about child custody laws in Ohio also will want to understand the basics of Ohio child support. The state of Ohio awards child support based on a percentage of both parents gross incomes and the number of children to be supported. There are, however, limits on the high and low ends of gross income; a qualified Ohio child custody lawyer will be able to tell you if those limits apply to your situation.

    After the court issues a child support order, it will then issue a withholding order. This tells the paying parents employer to take a specific amount of money from the parents paycheck and send it directly to the bureau of support. Self-employed parents may have to post a cash bond with the court.

    The amount of support ordered by the court may be changed if the childs or either parents circumstances change.