At one point in time, if parents divorced in Columbus, a father was effectively out of his children’s lives. Perhaps he would see them on the holidays or maybe he would get a weekend or two with his children, but the general assumption was that the children went with the mother following a divorce. Really, the only time that the father would have custody instead of the mother was if she was unfit to care for the children. Now, however, more and more fathers are demanding shared parenting arrangements and a fair amount of time with their children.
And it is not just fathers who have taken an interest in being active fathers following a divorce. Researchers have conducted numerous studies that have found that children do better when their fathers are in their lives. States have also taken notice that many of the older child custody orders were based more on gendered family stereotypes and less on the actual best interests of the child. As such, many states are either changing or talking about changing their laws to better reflect shared or joint custody.
At least one legal academic believes that the increasing acceptance of fathers’ demands of getting greater shares of child custody is due to the fact that many lawyers and judges grew up with divorced parents and absent fathers. If true, this would imply that many of these lawyers and judges want something different and better for today’s children of divorced households.
Ultimately, Ohio law does not allow for family law judges to automatically grant the mother custody or grant the mother the lion’s share of the parenting time. Instead, judges must make their child custody decisions with the best interests of the children in mind, which often means shared parenting arrangements.
Source: USA Today, “More dads demand equal custody rights, reject child-support arrangements of yesterday,” Sharon Jayson June 14, 2014