Many hard decisions need to be made when going through a divorce. Both sides often must give up important things that they hold dear. No one wants to make these kinds of sacrifices, however, when it comes to the safety and general well-being of their children. Whether custody is being determined due to a divorce or a paternity lawsuit, the best method is for the parents to come to an agreement themselves. It is when these parties cannot agree on parenting time and custody that a judge will be required to make the decisions for the family. The method the court will use to decide these complex issues is called the “best interest of the child” standard.
Legal And Physical Custody
Physical custody is pretty straightforward. It refers to where precisely the child resides on each day of the week. Parents may split the child’s time equally between two homes, or perhaps the children would primarily reside with one parent and spend time with the other parent once or twice during the week and every other weekend.
Legal custody centers around which parent makes the major decisions for the child. With legal custody, decisions are made regarding where the child will live, where they will go to school, which medical procedures can be administered, and in which religion they will be raised. Parents can share legal custody even if they don’t share physical custody.
How Is ‘Best Interest’ Determined?
When it is time for an Ohio judge to determine custody, they do so by establishing the child’s best interest. The best interest of the child is based on several factors unique to each case. These factors include:
- The wishes of both parents regarding custody
- Adjustments the child must go through should they have to change homes, schools, or communities
- Each parent’s likelihood to honor and facilitate parenting time
- The child’s own wishes based on interviews conducted in the judge’s private chambers
- The mental and physical health of the parents and the child(ren)
- Any physical, mental, or sexual abuse and/or neglect committed in the past by either parent or members of their household
- The child’s interactions and relationship with each parent, sibling, or other household members able to affect the child’s best interest
- Whether either parent currently resides or intends to reside in another state
- A parent’s ability to make child support payments
By reviewing these factors, a family court judge can construct a picture of the child’s current home life and possible future. It is then the judge’s responsibility to set forth a custody and parenting plan to reflect the best interest of the child.
Determining ‘Best Interest’ With Shared Custody
Using the items above, a judge may decide that sole custody is not appropriate for the child’s best interest. Instead, shared parenting (formerly known as joint custody) might be determined as the best course of action. Additional factors for shared custody will include:
- The ability of each parent to foster a positive relationship with the other parent
- Both parents’ capacity to cooperate and make collective decisions
- The proximity of the parents’ residences
- The history of spousal abuse by either parent
At Garretson & Holcomb, we have years of experience with child custody and parenting arrangements. Let us help assess your situation and advocate on your behalf for all matters of family law. Call today at (513) 863-6600.