Some Ohio residents have likely noted that for a good part of the 20th century, fathers who sought joint custody after divorce did not commonly get the results they wanted. In most cases, courts sided with the mothers by giving them full custody. Over the last three decades, things have changed. Now, courts are pushing parents toward shared custody.

Child custody can be divided into two categories: legal and physical. If a parent has legal custody, they have the right to decide their child’s religion, education and health care. They are responsible for their child’s well-being. Conversely, physical custody determines where the child spends the night.

Courts start with the presumption that the divorcing couple is going to seek joint legal custody. Many courts also presume that shared residential custody is what the divorcing couple will seek. The truth is that shared residential custody is not always possible. Logistically, parents shuffling their children back and forth can be time-consuming and can interrupt a child’s school week.

In the 1980s, mothers were granted sole custody of their children 80% of the time. In 2008, that had dropped to 42%. Equally shared custody was at 5% in the 1980s and had spiked to 28% by 2008. In the ’60s and ’70s, there were a lot of cultural changes that began to shift the way fathers were reviewed when child custody was considered. For example, more areas started to adopt no-fault divorce, which led to more women filing for divorce.

If a spouse initiates a divorce that their partner does not want, it’s possible that they may feel betrayed. A parent may want to spend as much time as possible with the children, and they may be willing to fight for the children. In these cases, a family law attorney may be able to assist their client by helping them understand child custody laws and see how they relate to an individual case.