Child Custody & Visitation FAQs



How is child custody jurisdiction established?

  • Child custody jurisdiction is established through the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (link to: htts:// ojjdp/189181.pdf)  (“UCCJEA”), which puts the “exclusive [and] continuing jurisdiction” in the courts of the child’s home state.  The home state is defined as the state where the child has resided for 6 months preceding the date of the commencement of the proceeding.”
  • In Ohio, once the court has made a custody determination that state keeps jurisdiction over all matters concerning that child, unless “the court or a court of another state determines that the child, the child’s parents, and any person acting as a parent do not presently reside in this state, or, until the child’s emancipation.”

What factors do courts take into account when deciding who gets custody of the children?

  • The court allocates the parental rights and responsibilities between the parents based on the best interests of the minor children who are not yet age 18.
  • If a parent submits a plan for shared parenting, the court will review it and may adopt it if it finds that it is in the best interests of the children.
  • If the court finds the proposed plan is not in the best interest of the children, it can request amendment of the plan or deny shared parenting. 
  • If no plan is submitted, the court cannot award shared parenting and will allocate the parental responsibilities to one of the parents.
    • If this is the case, some of the factors taken into account include
    • The child’s wishes and concerns,
    • The child’s mental, emotional and psychological development,
      • The child’s interaction with parents, siblings and other significant persons,
      • The child’s adjustment to school, community and home,
      • The parent’s ability to serve as a custodial parent,
      • If one of the parents intends to leave the state permanently

What is shared parenting?

  • Ohio uses the term “shared parenting” for what is formerly referred to as “joint custody.”  This means that the courts allocate the parental rights and responsibilities for the care of the children to both parents – both of whom will be actively involved in making important decisions concerning the child’s upbringing.  It does not necessarily mean that it is an equal split, however, in terms of time spent with the children, financial support, etc.  When an Ohio family court approves a Shared Parenting Plan, both parents have the legal status of being a “residential parent.”

What is sole custody?

    • If, for whatever reason, shared parenting is not in the best interest of the child, the court will name one party as the residential parent and legal custodian.  That party will then be responsible for making all major decisions with regards to the child’s upbringing, health and welfare.

Does the court have to decide who gets custody of the child(ren)?

  • One or both parties can file a proposed shared parenting plan with the court, however, the ruling will ultimately rest with the court and will reflect the decision they feel is in the best interests of the children.  Under Ohio Law, a Domestic Relations Court retains jurisdiction to allocate parental rights and responsibilities until the minor children of the terminated marriage reach the age of majority (18 years old).

Does custody affect child support?

  • Yes

Who determines how much visitation is reasonable and fair?

  • The Court will determine what parenting time is in the best interest of the child, unless the parties otherwise agree.

What does the court consider when modifying child custody and visitation?

  • If one of the parties involved files a motion requesting a modification in the original child custody/visitation ruling, the movant must demonstrate a substantial change in circumstances since the initial decree was made.  If one parent has sole custody the movant must prove one of the following and that the change is in the child’s best interest.  If the parties have shared parenting the movant must prove that there has been a substantial change; that the modification is in the child’s best interest.
    • Whether the harm to the child caused by a change in environment is outweighed by the benefits of modifying the prior allocation of custody
    • Whether the two parties both agree on the change in custody
    • Whether the child, with the consent of the residential parent, has been integrated into the family of the parent requesting to become the legal residential parent through modification

Can a father receive full custody of the children?

  • Either parent can receive full custody of the children if the courts determine that it is in their best interest.

When can the judge deny visitation rights?

  • If it is determined that it is in the best interest of the child to do so

I am divorced and have custody of my children.  What should I do if I want to move?

  • Under Ohio law you must file a notice of intent to relocate with the court that issued the custody order.  The court will send a copy of the notice to relocate to the non-custodial parent.

My ex-spouse disagrees with my decision to move with the children and is resisting.  Now what?

  • If a non-custodial parent objects to the relocation after receiving the notice of intent to relocate, that party must file a motion with the court and set it for a hearing before the court.  The court will then determine whether or not the relocation of the child/children is in the child/children’s best interest.

Why would a court deny a parent’s request to relocate?

  • A parent can relocate, the question is whether the parent can relocate with the child.  Again, the children’s best interest is always the first priority.  A request might be denied if there is,
    • No justification to make the move
    • Significant local involvement of the children’s extended family
    • Evidence that the relocating parent would be unable or unwilling to adhere to the established parenting schedule
  • Relocation of children is a complicated legal issue that must consider a variety of factors, and is determined on a case by case basis.  In assessing whether or not children should be relocated, you should consult with an attorney prior to making that decision.  If you would like to discuss that, please contact us at our website and we would be happy to discuss the matter with you.