ASSISTING FAMILIES THROUGH DIFFICULT TRANSITIONS
What Do Parents Fear Most In Divorce?
All parents going through a divorce are concerned about one thing over all others: losing the relationship they have with their children.
The No. 1 concern is custody — which parent the child will live with most of the time. Parents worry about not getting sufficient child support, or having to pay an unreasonably high figure. Visitation and relocation are major concerns. Parents in some situations worry that their children will not be safe in the other parent’s care.
Custody And Child Support Issues Are Often Contentious
Our goal as your lawyer is to help you obtain a child custody agreement that meets your needs and also the best interests of your children.
Although children will reside primarily with one parent, most courts prefer a shared parenting arrangement that is as close to 50-50 as possible. Obviously, this arrangement will not work if one parent has alcohol or drug problems, or a history of physically or emotionally abusing a child.
Creativity and experience play important roles when crafting a shared parenting plan. Each parenting plan is unique, and a good lawyer will probe to understand what is most important to you.
Our lawyers have extensive experience negotiating parenting plans. We frequently work with court-appointed guardians ad litem in contested child custody situations.
What Factors Do The Courts Consider When Creating Shared Parenting Plans?
If the parties do not agree on a shared parenting plan, the court may adopt the shared parenting plan proposed by one of the parties.
Under a shared parenting plan, both parents are deemed custodial parents of the children. However, one parent must be designated the residential parent for school placement purposes.
The shared parenting plan must reflect the best interests of the children as decided by the court. To determine whether shared parenting is in the best interests of the child or children, the court will consider all relevant factors, including, but not limited to:
- The ability of the parties 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 children 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 that relates to practical considerations of shared parenting
- The recommendation of a guardian ad litem, if one is appointed by the court
How Do The Courts Determine What Is In The Best Interests Of The Children?
If the parents do not agree on the custody of their children, the court will make a determination of the best interests of the children by considering the following factors:
- The wishes of the child’s parents regarding his or her care
- The wishes of the child, in some situations
- The child’s interaction and interrelationship with parents, siblings and any other persons who may significantly affect the child’s best interests
- The child’s adjustment to home, school and community
- The mental and physical health of all persons involved in the situation
- The parent more likely to honor and facilitate visitation and companionship rights approved by the court
- Whether either parent has failed to make all child support payments
- Whether either parent previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to any criminal offense involving any act that resulted in a child being an abused child or a neglected child
- Whether either parent has continuously and willfully denied the other parent his or her right to visitation in accordance with an order of the court
- Whether either parent has established a residence, or is planning to establish a residence, outside Ohio
How Is Child Support Calculated?
Child support is calculated pursuant to the Ohio Child Support Guidelines, which are set forth in the Ohio Revised Code.
Child support calculations are based upon a payment formula that considers the number of children, the income of both parties, the cost of health insurance for the children, as well as the cost of work-related child care.
Courts do have the authority to deviate upward or downward from the child support obligation calculated in accordance with the Ohio Child Support Guidelines. Frequently, the court will also order support in additional ways such as payment of medical, dental, hospitalization, special education, camp or travel expenses.
The law requires that child support payments be withheld from the wages of the parent-obligor by his or her employer and processed through the Child Support Enforcement Agency. By law, a processing fee of 2 percent is assessed to all child support withheld and processed through the Child Support Enforcement Agency.