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Determining Sole Custody and Shared Parenting

From the moment one parent says the word “divorce” to the other parent, no issue consumes more emotional energy than the uncertainty surrounding how your children will be raised after the marriage is over.

In every divorce or dissolution, the court is obligated to allocate parental rights and responsibilities for the care of all minor children of the marriage. While friends, family, co-workers and the internet use a variety of words and phrases to describe potential custody and parenting agreements, Ohio law recognizes only two options, Sole Custody and Shared Parenting:

Sole Custody:     The court allocates the parental rights and responsibilities for the care of the minor children primarily to one parent and designates that parent as the sole residential parent and legal custodian of the children.

Shared Parenting:     The court allocates the parental rights and responsibilities for the care of the children to both parents and each parent is designated as a residential parent and legal custodian of the children.

​Christopher M. Alexander has represented clients in family law matters for 25 years. The most common issue raised and litigated in those cases has been the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities for the care of minor children. Christopher M. Alexander has extensive experience negotiating and litigating custody and shared parenting issues. If you need an experienced family law attorney, contact Christopher M. Alexander at (513) 228 – 1100 or chris@alexander-legal.com.

What Do We Need to Allocate for Our Children

If you have minor children, you already allocate parental rights and responsibilities for the care of your children every day. What you probably haven’t ever considered doing . . . is to actually write down which parent is responsible for which day-to-day task for each child. A complete parenting agreement will require you to address the following areas:

  • Sole Legal Custody vs. Shared Parenting

  • Parenting Time Schedule During the School Year

  • Parenting Time Schedule During Summer Break/Extended Time

  • Parenting Time Schedule During the Holidays

  • Right of First Refusal

  • School District Registration

  • Decision Making

  • Will You Mediate Differences

  • Calculation of Child Support

  • Health Insurance and Providers

  • Unreimbursed and Uninsured Medical Expenses

  • Scholastic and Extracurricular Activities Costs

  • Day Care Expenses

  • Life Insurance Beneficiary

  • Relocation

  • Transportation

  • Tax Credits and Benefits

Due to the importance of this subject and its impact on the family as a whole, the Supreme Court of Ohio produced Planning for Parenting Time, Ohio’s Guide for Parents Living Apart. The intention of the Guide is to encourage parents to educate themselves about developmental milestones in children’s lives and create sensible parenting time schedules in their best interests. Upon request, Christopher M. Alexander provides an electronic copy of the Guide to all family law clients who have minor children and who are either litigating a divorce or negotiating a dissolution.

​What Will the Court Consider to

Determine the Best Interests of a Child

​In determining the best interests of a child, the court will consider all relevant factors, including, but not limited to:

  • ​The wishes of the child's parents

  • If the court has interviewed the child, the child's wishes

  • The child's interaction and interrelationship with the child's parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interest

  • The child's adjustment to the child's home, school, and community

  • The mental and physical health of all persons involved in the situation

  • The parent more likely to honor and facilitate court-approved parenting time

  • Whether either parent has failed to make all child support payments

  • Whether a parent has been determined to be, or plead guilty, to any one of a series of crimes or acts that resulted in domestic violence to a family member or which resulted in a child being an abused or neglected child

  • Whether the residential parent or one of the parents subject to a shared parenting decree has continuously and willfully denied the other parent's right to parenting time

  • Whether either parent has established a residence, or is planning to establish a residence, outside this state

​What Does a Court Consider in Determining if Shared Parenting

is the Best Interest of Minor Children

In determining whether shared parenting is in the best interests of a child, the court will consider the factors listed above plus the following relevant factors:

  • The ability of the parents to cooperate and make decisions jointly, with respect to the children;

  • The ability of each parent to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other parent

  • Any history of, or potential for, child abuse, spouse abuse, other domestic violence, or parental kidnapping by either parent

  • The geographic proximity of the parents to each other, as the proximity relates to the practical considerations of shared parenting

  • The recommendation of the guardian ad litem of the child, if the child has a guardian ad litem

​Christopher M. Alexander has represented clients in family law matters for 25 years. The most common issue raised and litigated in those cases has been the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities for the care of minor children. Christopher M. Alexander has extensive experience negotiating and litigating custody and shared parenting issues. If you need an experienced family law attorney, contact Christopher M. Alexander at (513) 228 – 1100 or chris@alexander-legal.com.

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