When it comes to child custody in Ohio, the law states that the courts are not permitted to automatically favor either the father or mother, nor show any gender bias; their duty is solely to protect and ensure the best interests of the child.
Since revisions to the law in 1991, it has become increasingly common for the courts to find that shared parenting is best for the child, especially when both mother and father encourage their child to have a healthy, loving relationship with the other parent.
In fact, some Central Ohio courts favor shared parenting even when the parents are in high conflict.
The “best interest” test
The best interest of the child is the standard for courts in virtually every U.S. state. Ohio’s best interest of the child statute is explained in the section regarding shared parenting.
Matters that the court will take into consideration include all those items surrounding a child’s safety, health and welfare, including:
- How well the child has adjusted to their home, school and community
- The mental and physical health of both parents
- Parents’ commitment to facilitate and honor parenting time
- The child’s relationships with each parent as well as siblings and others (grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc.) who have a significance in the child’s life
- The child’s own wishes or concerns, based on their age and an interview conducted in the court chambers
- Any history of domestic violence, child abuse or neglect
- A parent’s intention to live in or plan to move to another state
- Failure to make child support payments as ordered by the court
In the cases of unmarried parents, Ohio law gives sole legal and residential custody of the child to the mother “until a court of competent jurisdiction issues an order designating another person as the residential parent and legal custodian.”
A father who establishes paternity doesn’t have automatic rights to visitation with his child (even if paying child support).
When a mother is unmarried, both the father and other relatives of the child may petition the court for parenting time and custody, but it is indeed up to the court to make a determination.
What are your rights?
When having a strong, happy and healthy relationship with your child is important to you, learn more about your rights as a mother or father.