What happens when there is a child custody dispute?
There are essentially two ways that child custody or parental rights and responsibilities can be allocated following the end of the marriage. One spouse may be designated the child’s “residential parent and legal custodian” and the other spouse designated the “non-residential parent”. The “residential parent” is primarily responsible for the children, and that parent has the right to make all major decisions concerning the children. The other parent has certain rights, including the right to spend time with the children, the right to obtain information about and attend the children’s school and extracurricular activities, and sometimes be involved in making extraordinary health care decisions. Along with these rights usually comes the responsibility to pay monetary support, “child support”, to the residential parent. Shared Parenting is another way to allocate parental rights and responsibilities. Shared parenting occurs when a Shared Parenting Plan is implemented to allocate parental rights and responsibilities between the parents. It can be entered into by mutual agreement, or, if there is no agreement, by court order if either or both parents request shared parenting and submit a proposed Shared Parenting Plan.
If there is no agreement, how are custody decisions made?
If the spouses are unable to agree about the division of parental rights and responsibilities, the Court will have to make this decision. These are the most difficult decisions that a Domestic Relations Court has to make. The law provides that all such decisions are to be made by the Court based upon its determination of the “best interest of the child”. There are a variety of factors that the Court is required to consider in making that determination.
What factors does the Court consider in making custody decision?
Custody decisions are made on the basis of many factors, including:
- The wishes of the child’s parents
- The wishes of the child
- The child’s relationship with parents, siblings, and others relevant to the parenting arrangement
- The child’s adjustment to home, school and community
- Mental and physical health of all persons’ involved
- The parent more likely to honor and promote the child’s relationship with the other parent
- A history of denial by either parent of the other parent’s parenting rights
- History of parent’s failure to make child support payments
- Evidence of abuse, neglect, or domestic violence
- Plans by either parent to move out of state
A parent’s income or financial status is usually not a significant factor in making these decisions.
What is shared parenting?
Shared parenting does not necessarily mean that the parties will equally share time with the children. Many Shared Parenting Plans provide for the children to reside primarily with one parent. A Shared Parenting Plan must include provisions involving a variety of issues related to parental rights and responsibilities, such as:
- The time the children will spend with each parent
- Where the children will go to school
- How medical and health care decisions will be made
- How medical treatment will be paid for
- Child support or expense sharing
- Relocation restrictions
With these important issues at stake, it is beneficial for parents to work together to enter into a Shared Parenting Plan on which they can agree.
Is child support required in cases of shared parenting?
In most cases involving shared parenting, one spouse is required to pay child support to the other. Depending on the time allocation in the Shared Parenting Plan and/or the extent to which the parents’ earnings are more equal, the amount of child support to be paid may be less than the child support guidelines would otherwise provide. There are some cases where neither parent may be required to pay child support to the other.
Why should I choose John Heilbrun to help me with child custody issues?
When looking for a family law attorney to help with child custody issues, you want someone who can help you get the best outcome for your children and you. John L. Heilbrun has more than 35 years experience helping families in Cincinnati and surrounding counties to navigate Domestic Relations Courts and achieve positive outcomes. He knows the judges, magistrates, Parenting Departments, and procedures.
John Heilbrun is also a sympathetic and understanding attorney skilled at helping people feel comfortable talking about their custody issues. He can help you understand all your legal options so you can make informed decisions. He is also a strong and experienced advocate who is prepared to represent the interests of you and your children in a contested custody case.
Please contact the Law Office of John Heilbrun to schedule an appointment.