During divorce or dissolution, most spouses’ primary concerns are focused on their children. Custody of children is an emotionally fraught aspect of ending a marriage. One way spouses can prepare themselves for the process is becoming familiar with Ohio’s laws. Below, Dawes Legal, LLC, answers frequently asked questions about custody agreements in Ohio.
How will custody of my children be decided in my divorce?
The court overseeing your divorce will make final determinations as to child custody and will do so considering the best interests of your children. The court will order either sole custody to one parent or shared custody to both parents. This determination applies to major decision-making for the children and is not the same as visitation. A parent with sole custody can make major decisions, like medical care and schooling choices, without consulting the other parent. In a shared custody (also called “shared parenting”) agreement, however, both parents must be involved in those decisions. Courts in Ohio ordinarily begin with a presumption of shared custody and will award sole custody to one parent if the circumstances warrant it.
How will my spouse and I decide on a visitation schedule?
The court will additionally order the final visitation schedule for your children (also called “parenting time”). The court has a guide it can use to generate a schedule, usually involving the children living primarily with one parent and seeing the other parent on weekends and on certain weekdays. You and your spouse should make every effort to come to an agreement about parenting time based on your children’s activities and everyone’s schedules. The court will honor almost all agreements the spouses reach themselves. But the court will use its best judgment in the event you cannot come to an agreement together.
What if I want to change my existing custody agreement?
After a custody agreement has been finalized, you are allowed to amend it whenever you need. Courts understand that the arrangements that work when children are toddlers might not work when they become teenagers. When this happens, you should work with your former spouse to amend the agreement. If you are able to come to a new agreement together, you can file a joint motion to amend the existing agreement, and the court will approve it. You can change certain provisions of your custody agreement this way or replace it entirely. But if you and your former spouse do not agree, you will need to file a motion yourself. The court will hear evidence on both sides before making a decision. You will need to prove to the court that circumstances have changed such that the existing agreement is no longer practical or in the best interests of the children.
If you are going through a divorce in Ohio or want to change your existing divorce agreement with regard to child custody, Contact Dawes Legal, LLC, today by calling (614) 733-9999.