Parents of minor children in Wadsworth, Medina, or Brunswick, Ohio whose marriages end in divorce, annulment, or who are legally separated from their spouses might benefit from the recognition of shared parenting plans as a solution to child custody disputes under the Ohio Revised Code. When the parties cannot agree on a shared parenting plan or submit a plan that a judge determines is not in the best interests of the children of the marriage, courts have the power to grant parenting time and visitation orders.
Ohio laws allow local courts to adopt standardized parenting time orders. The Medina County Domestic Relations Court that services Medina, Brunswick, and Wadsworth adopted the standardized plan for parents to provide minor children with frequent and consistent contact with the nonresidential parent as well as with the parent granted residential custody. Parents are encouraged by the court to use the standard plan as a guide, but if they cannot agree, the court reserves the right to adopt the standard parenting plan as long as it is in the best interests of the children.
Effect of Shared Parenting Plans on Visitation
Section 3109.04 of the Ohio Revised Code offers judges options in divorce, dissolution, or legal separation cases involving child custody issues. Judges have authority to allocate the rights of the parents and responsibilities for caring for children in two distinct situations:
- When no shared parenting plan is submitted by the parties, or a shared parenting plan submitted by the parties is rejected as not in the best interests of the children
- When one or both parents submit a shared parenting plan that the court approves
When a shared parenting plan is not submitted or is not approved by the court, the judge must decide which of the parents should be granted parental rights and primary responsibility for caring for the child. An order is then issued to designate the parent chosen by the court as the residential parent and legal custodian of the child. Also included in the order will be a division of other child care responsibilities and parenting rights including the right of the nonresidential parent to have sufficient visitation in order to maintain a relationship with the child.
Cases in Wadsworth, Medina, or Brunswick in which a shared parenting plan is approved by the court as being in the best interests of the child still require an order issued by the judge hearing the matter. The shared parenting order specifies the parental rights and child care responsibilities of each parent. Depending upon the terms of the shared parenting plan and the circumstances of the parents, the order might include special provisions pertaining to a child’s place of residence. For example, if public assistance is a factor, the order might designate the home of one of the parents to be the child’s place of residence.
Wadsworth, Medina, or Brunswick courts are authorized to grant visitation to grandparents only if visitation has been withheld, and visitation with the grandparents is in the best interest of the child. Even then, the court cannot grant visitation unless one of the following conditions also exist:
- There is a pending or completed divorce, dissolution, annulment, legal separation, or child support proceeding involving the parents
- A parent of the child has died
The parents of a woman who is unmarried at the time of the birth of her child may petition a court for visitation, but the parents of the father of the child cannot request visitation until a court issues a paternity order.
Statutory Factors in Granting Visitation or Parenting Time
Ohio statutes require judges in Wadsworth, Medina, or Brunswick to take a variety of factors into consideration when deciding parenting time and visitation. The factors that are relevant will depend upon the circumstances presented in a particular case, but some of them include:
- The wishes of the child as expressed to the judge during an interview in the court’s chambers
- The interaction and relationship of the child with person requesting parenting time or visitation
- The distance between the location of the custodial parent’s residence and the person requesting visitation or parenting time
- The child’s age
- The health and safety of the child
- The mental and physical health of the parents or the parties seeking visitation
- Other factors that will help to determine the best interests of the child
Access to School and Health Records
Unless a judge determines from the available evidence that it would not be in the best interest of the child, nonresidential parents with visitation the same access as the residential parent to a child’s school, day care, and medical records. Equal access also includes access to the child’s activities unless it is not in the child’s best interest.
Enforcement of Visitation and Parenting Time Orders
Interference with court ordered parenting time or visitation in Wadsworth, Medina, or Brunswick is punishable through a contempt of court proceeding. A person proven to have violated the terms of a parenting time or visitation order can be fined up to $250 and jailed for up to 30 days for a first offense. A second offense is punishable by a fine up to $500 and up to 60 days in jail. A third or subsequent violation is punishable by a fine up to $1,000 and up to 90 days in jail.
Consult with a Wadsworth, Medina, or Brunswick Attorney
Child custody, shared parenting and visitation are complex issues that can raise questions and concerns for residents of Wadsworth, Medina, or Brunswick, Ohio. A family law attorney might be able to address a parent’s concerns and provide guidance about parenting and visitation rights under Ohio law.
Disclaimer: This information is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this page should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. Please consult an attorney for specific case information.