“Residential” and “shared” parenting
Ohio courts may allocate parental rights and responsibilities for the care of the children in one of two ways:
The court may designate one parent as the “residential parent” who is primarily allocated with the rights and responsibilities for the care of the children. In these cases, the court can allocate a separate set of rights and responsibilities to the other parent, including providing child support and having continued contact with the children.
Alternatively, the court can establish a “shared parenting” order, which mandates both parents to share the physical and legal care of their children. In shared parenting, both parents are considered the “residential parent” in terms of rights and responsibilities, regardless of where or with whom the child resides. It doesn’t necessarily mean an equal division of child support or time with the children.
“Best interest of the child” standard
In allocating parental rights and responsibilities, Ohio courts determine the “best interest of a child” as the main factor in its rulings. This “best interest” standard is based on a number of factors, which can include the preferences of both the parents and the child; the mental and physical health of both parents and child; the child’s interactions with their parents, siblings, and other relevant family members; the child’s adjustment to their home, school, and community; child support payment history of the paying parent; any history of abuse, neglect or other violence in the family; each parent’s degree of respect towards the others’ parental role and rights; and others.
Granting shared parenting
When a parent a shared parenting order, that parent must submit a shared parenting plan that includes provisions for the care of the children. This plan can include living arrangements, child support obligations, medical and dental care, school placement, and location of the child during legal holidays, school holidays, and other significant days. The non-requesting parent can submit a counter-plan, or both parents can negotiate a consensual plan as well.
In pursuit of a shared parenting plan, the court may request a pre-trial investigation of many aspects of each parents’ lives, including the individual’s character, family relations, past conduct, earning ability, and financial worth. This kind of detailed scrutiny of each individual parent can amplify the potential stress of establishing parental rights and responsibilities.