In Ohio courts, as with most family courts in the nation, much of what happens during a divorce or marriage dissolution regarding the children of the marriage is determined according to the best interests of the child or children. In Ohio, the standard is described in the state statutes, section 3109.04(F)(1-3).

That section permits a court to determine a shared parenting plan that is in the child's best interest, and it lays out how the court should make that determination. "Best interests" is a very complex determination and it is very specific to each couple's particular situation. The 16 factors are not exclusive, meaning if there are other relevant factors, those too may be considered.

The judge may even interview the child or children and consider, if appropriate, their views. The judge will also examine the financial, psychiatric and medical backgrounds of the parents and if there have been any convictions for child neglect violence.

Leaving your child custody in the hands of the judge may leave you with a custody arrangement that is less than ideal. The better plan is to work with your child's other parent to develop a parenting plan that can be submitted to and approved by the court. This is often difficult, as your divorce proceeding may not seem like the time to cooperate with your former spouse.

No matter how difficult it may be, this is the best time to develop the parenting skills that you will need for helping your children grow and succeed. Working with your attorney, you should develop a parenting plan that will meet your needs and those of your child.

You may divorce their other parent, but that person will always be their mother or father, and you will need to work together with them for your child's sake.

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