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Shared Parenting


A few words on shared parenting in Ohio. I plan to do this three short installments. First, a little background.

Sometimes people come into the office and ask about joint custody. We did have it in Ohio at one time. The law changed and it is now called shared parenting. Shared parenting a little from what was once referred to as joint custody.  Joint custody required an agreement by both parents. A shared parenting plan is often by agreement but the court can order it over the objection of one of the parents.

Whenever we speak of parenting arrangements in Ohio, we are talking about the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities. While Ohio has done away with words like custody and visitation, it's not uncommon to use the old terminology. I still use and many people I see do as well. But under the new terms or old, both parents remain parents. Not being named the residential parent and legal custodian(having custody) does in no way diminish the parent as parent having parenting time(visitation). He or she is still a parent. Shared parenting however does put the parents on more equal footing in decision making regarding their child or children.  Shared parenting is governed by statute in Ohio.

The court, or the parents by agreement, looks at all relevant factors including these five:

(a) The ability of the parents to cooperate and make decisions jointly, with respect to the children;
(b) The ability of each parent to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other parent;
(c) Any history of, or potential for, child abuse, spouse abuse, other domestic violence, or parental kidnapping by either parent;
(d) The geographic proximity of the parents to each other, as the proximity relates to the practical considerations of shared parenting;
(e) The recommendation of the guardian ad-litem of the child, if the child has a guardian ad-litem. (a guardian ad-litem is a person appointed by the court essentially to represent the best interests of a child and make recommendations to the court)

Obviously the first is, in my opinion, the most important. If parents can't work together making decisions as to the best interests of their children, true shared parenting is unlikely to work.

Shared parenting is becoming much more common. Sometimes for the wrong reasons however. As mentioned above, the idea that the non-custodial parent is no longer a real parent is just plain wrong but comes up often as a motivating factor in the desire to want it.  However, there are two other reasons that I want to deal with later. The first is one of time spent with the child or children. There appears to be a belief that a shared parenting plan means each parent spends equal time with the child or children. This isn't true but at times it is set up that way. It is believed shared parenting means there is no child support to be paid. That too is simply not always the case and what I want to touch on next.

For comments, this will be reprinted on Facebook and you are welcome to comment here:  http://www.facebook.com/LeeAThompsonAttorneyAtLaw

If you have any questions about your legal rights, you should contact an attorney.

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