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Shared vs. Sole Child Custody in Ohio



When a couple divorces in the state of Ohio, child custody is determined based on what is in the best interest of the child or children involved. The issues can be complex and take into account a variety of factors, so consulting with a child custody attorney in Columbus, Ohio is the best first step when you and your ex-spouse can’t agree on who should have custody. There are two basic types of custody, shared custody and sole custody, and there is a great deal of variation within each type. Shared custody, usually referred to as shared parenting, is the most common form of custody agreement. Less common but sometimes used is sole custody.


Shared Parenting or Shared Child Custody


With shared parenting or joint legal custody, both parents share child rearing responsibilities and have input into issues such as religious upbringing, educational choices, health decisions, discipline, extracurricular activities and more.


It is important to understand that a couple can have joint legal custody without the child’s time being evenly divided between two households. In many instances, one parent has primary physical custody with the other parent having visitation rights. In many “shared parenting” situations, the child will live with one parent during the week when school is in session, visiting the other parent on certain weekends and during vacations. This can still be shared parenting.


Sole Physical Custody


With sole custody, if one parent’s home is the primary physical residence of the child and takes care of the day-to-day duties of child rearing, that parent may have sole physical custody and decision making authority. However, the parent with sole physical custody (often called the custodial parent) will still be required to provide notice to the other parent after making major decisions on the child’s behalf. The non-custodial parent may have generous visitation rights or limited visitation. It is very rare for the non-custodial parent to not be granted some form of visitation.


Joint Physical Custody


Joint physical custody recognizes both parents as primary caregivers. Both homes are considered residences for the child. Visitation is equal or almost equal. For joint physical custody, a shared parenting plan has to be submitted to the court outlining how the residential considerations will be handled.


There are a wide range of options for shared parenting and endless variables to consider. To make sure your rights and your children’s best interests are at the heart of any shared custody plan, consult with a child custody attorney. Columbus, Ohio custody issues are best handled by a lawyer who frequently handles these types of issues.


Ohio Courts' Preference


In most cases, the Ohio courts prefer shared parenting over sole custody unless there are severe, extenuating circumstances that make one parent unfit to protect and care for the child. The courts also prefer that the parents come to some kind of shared parenting plan that can be a starting point for a final custody decision.


If the parents cannot come to any agreement, however, the court will be guided by the best interests of the child in order to create a custody order. Because there are a multitude of issues to be considered when putting together a child custody plan, you should consult with a child custody attorney. Columbus, Ohio parents rely on the attorneys at Petroff Law Offices for skilled and compassionate representation regarding child custody issues.

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