During a marriage, both parties have equal custody of their children as well as equal authority to make decisions concerning their children. When a marriage is terminated by divorce, one spouse will have primary responsibility over the children (unless the court approves a Shared Parenting Plan). The parent with the primary responsibility is called the residential parent, and the other parent is called the non-residential parent. If the parties cannot agree among themselves who will be the residential parent or upon a companionship schedule, the court will decide the issue at the time of trial.
If have questions about your parental rights in a separation or divorce, please contact the David A. Looney Co. LPA at 330-785-3337, or fill out our contact form. We serve clients in the Summit, Portage, Stark, Medina, and Wayne counties of Ohio. With over 50 years of combined legal experience, we are aggressive, equipped and prepared to fight for you and help you solve your legal problems.
When the court must decide the issue of custody, the court’s primary focus is on the “best interests of the child.” The court is required by law to consider the following factors in determining the best interests of the child:
- The wishes of the child’s parents regarding the child’s care;
- The child’s wishes and concerns as to the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities if the court has interviewed the child in chambers;
- The child’s interaction and interrelationship with the child’s parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests;
- The child’s adjustment to the child’s home, school, and community;
- The mental and physical health of all persons involved in the situation;
- The parent more likely to honor and facilitate court approved parenting time rights or visitation and companionship rights;
- Whether either parent has failed to make all child support, including all arranges, that are required of that parent pursuant to a child support order under which that parent is an obligor;
- Whether either parent has previously been convicted of or pleaded guilty to any criminal offense involving any act that resulted in a child being abused or neglected;
- Whether the residential parent or one of the parents subject to a Shared Parenting Plan has continuously and willfully denied the other parent’s right to parenting time in accordance with an order of the court;
- Whether either parent has established a residence, or is planning to establish a residence outside of this state.
When custody is granted to one parent, companionship (visitation) is normally granted to the nonresidential parent (unless it would not be in the best interests of the child). The court is required to adopt a standard order of visitation to be used as a guideline. The court is further required to include in its final decree a specific schedule of visitation. The court must consider the following when determining the final visitation requirements:
- The prior interaction and interrelationships of the child with his/her parents, siblings, and other relatives;
- The geographical location of the residence of each parent and the distance between those residences;
- The child’s and parents’ available time, including, but not limited to, each parent’s employment schedule, the child’s school schedule, and the child’s and the parents’ holiday and vacation schedule;
- The age of the child;
- The child’s adjustment to his home, school, and community;
- The wishes and concerns of the child as expressed to the court if the court has interviewed the child in chambers regarding the wishes and concerns of the child as to visitation by the parent who is not the residential parent as to a specific visitation schedule or as to other visitation matters;
- The health and safety of the child;
- The amount of time that will be available for the child to spend with siblings;
- The mental and physical health of all parties;
- Each parent’s willingness to reschedule missed visitation and to facilitate the other parent’s visitation rights;
- Whether the residential parent has continuously and willfully denied the other parent his or her right to visitation in accordance with an order of the court;
- Whether either parent has established a residence or is planning to establish a residence outside of this state;
- Any other factor for the best interests of the child.
A parent cannot be denied visitation for failure to pay child support. A parent may not stop paying child support if he or she is denied visitation. There is no law that requires a parent to exercise his or her visitation rights if they choose not to do so. Visitation can be enforced by proper motion filed with court after which a hearing on the matter will be held.
The court has continuing jurisdiction with respect to the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities. Orders can be modified with a showing of changed circumstances.
The experienced family law attorneys at the David A. Looney Co. LPA can advise you about your parental rights. Call us at 330-785-3337, or fill out our contact form.