Parental rights and child custody have very specific laws in the state of Ohio. Parents can share custody and parenting time, or one parent can care for the child alone while the other pays support. There are two types of custody that the parents will need to agree on. One is physical custody and refers to the place and parent where the child resides. The other is legal custody, which involves the decision-making process that impacts where the child will go to school, what religion they will be raised in, and what medical treatments they will receive. Parents can share custody or only one can have sole custody.
For instance, a common situation is when one parent retains sole physical custody of a child but splits the legal custody with their former spouse. The other parent will pay an agreed-upon amount Of child support every month, and both parents will make decisions regarding the child’s future. When one or both parents wish for a change in the custody agreement, they must go through the court to get it. These changes could involve either the physical and legal custody or the amount of child support that is required. In this article, we’ll discuss how to modify an existing custody order.
A Change Of Circumstances
In Ohio, custody is often referred to as an “allocation of parental rights,” and what was once called “visitation rights” is now called “parenting time.” These changes were made in an attempt to soften the language of parental rights and remind the court that both parents are responsible for some amount of parenting. When custody needs to change, the parent who requests the change must prove to the court that there has been a change of circumstances that warrants a reevaluation of the agreement. We’ll discuss how to change parenting time in a later section.
A change of circumstances refers to a new situation arising either in the life of the custodial parent or the child’s life. This change must have a direct and harmful impact on the child’s life. Due to this harmful change, the court would rule that the current custody order is no longer in the child’s best interest. And since the child’s best interest is of paramount importance in Ohio family law, the custody order must change. Examples of a harmful impact on the child’s life may include abuse, habitual drug use by the current custodial parent, jail or criminal conviction of the custodial parent, loss of job or income, or a severe illness that the custodial parent cannot or will not address.
The Child’s Best Interest
The best interest of the child is calculated by the court using a variety of different factors, including:
- Who would the child prefer to live with (if they are 13 years old or older.)
- The relationships between the child and other members of the household, including grandparents and siblings.
- The child’s current school life and community.
- The mental and physical health of each parent.
- Each parent’s willingness to have custody.
- The finances of each parent.
- And how willing each parent is to work with the other parent toward the child’s best interest.
In short, the change in custody order must cause more good than harm in a young child’s life. Otherwise, the family court will not consider it.
How To Start A Custody Change
Arguing that a change of circumstances has occurred can be a difficult undertaking, especially if the other parent disagrees. It is highly recommended that you hire a family law attorney at this stage to facilitate your change of custody order. To begin, you must file a motion for custody change with the court and explain why your proposed modification meets the circumstances above. The court will schedule hearings for various reasons, and the case may last anywhere from two months to one year, depending upon if an agreement is reached or there ends up being a contested trial.
How To Change Parenting Time
Changing the parenting time (or what other states may refer to as visitation rights) is a very similar process that operates under nearly the same guiding principles. The change must be primarily in the child’s best interest. The court will determine the child’s best interest by assessing similar criteria as those discussed above. Particularly each parent’s willingness to reschedule missed visitations, the child’s adjustment to home, school, and community, and the distance between each parent’s homes. For a change to occur, the court must determine that the existing schedule is no longer best for the child, and a new proposed plan would be. For instance, if the parent starts a new job with new hours or the child begins a new after-school program, that affects their parenting time.
If you are interested in changing your custody order, contact the experts at Garretson & Holcomb, LLC. Let us help you find an arrangement that benefits your and your child’s needs. Call today at (513) 863-6600.