Bill pushes for equality in divorce, separation cases with children
COLUMBUS, Ohio — State Representatives Rodney Creech and Marilyn John have introduced House Bill 14, which aims to promote cooperation between parents during the process of divorce and separation.
What You Need To Know
House Bill 14 aims to promote cooperation between parents during the process of divorce and separation
Currently, the custody outcomes vary from county to county and depend on which judge hears the case
Joint custody would only be disrupted if there is evidence that it would be harmful to the child
House Bill 14 is expected to have another committee hearing next Tuesday
The bill seeks to establish equal joint custody in local courts, encouraging parents to work together for the best interest of their children, rather than fighting against each other for custody decisions. "What our bill does is create an official state policy that ensures children continue to have a meaningful relationship with both parents," said State Representative Rodney Creech. Currently, the custody outcomes vary from county to county and depend on which judge hears the case. The bill seeks to create a standard across the state, ensuring that children are not restricted to one parent for a limited number of days each month. Joint custody would only be disrupted if there is evidence that it would be harmful to the child. Divorce Attorney Ronald Petroff, managing partner of Petroff Law Offices LLC, said under the current law, a judge or magistrate sets forth parameters. Including the wishes and preferences of the child.
Petroff said the bill includes a lot of the law that is already in place, but the biggest change it will accomplish is the rebuttable presumption. Under this presumption, joint custody would be required unless someone could provide prove to a judge that joint custody is harmful to a child. Elizabeth McNeese, Chair of the National Parents Organization of Ohio, helped write language in the bill. She said when a parent heads into court; they are ultimately going in to fight over their child.
"A lot of parents don't fight for their kids because they can't afford it. They don't know how to fight for their kids," McNeese said. "The law is very confusing, and there are a lot of hoops that you have to jump through as a parent." House Bill 14 is expected to have another committee hearing next Tuesday. Anyone who opposes the bill will have a chance to give their testimony to the committee. Representative Rodney Creech and Marilyn John hope that House Bill 14 will help parents focus on cooperation rather than fighting.
"We're not saying that there aren't times when one parent should have sole custody," Creech said. "But we want to create a level playing field where both parents have equal access to their children, and where the needs of the children always come first."