Photo of the legal professionals at Harry Lewis Co., LPA
Photo of the legal professionals at Harry Lewis Co., LPA

Trusted In The Columbus Area
For More Than 40 Years

Photo of the legal professionals at Harry Lewis Co., LPA

Trusted In The Columbus Area For More Than 40 Years

Finding Positive Resolutions In Child Custody Matters

One of the biggest fears for most parents is the possibility of losing precious time with their children. Unfortunately, in most child custody cases, this is a very real possibility.

At Harry Lewis Co., LPA, in Columbus, our goal is to help you preserve your quality time with your children while also looking out for their best interests. With more than 40 years of experience, we know the ins and outs of Ohio child custody laws. Whether you are going through a divorce, already divorced or unwed, if you need an attorney to stand up for your parental rights, we are here for you.

Understanding Child Custody Laws In Ohio

Going through a child custody dispute can feel overwhelming. One way to ease this strain and empower yourself is to become educated about Ohio’s child custody laws.

These are a few of the most significant points regarding child custody in Ohio:

  • Child custody: Child custody refers to the legal arrangement regarding the rights and obligations of each parent to their child.
  • Shared parenting: Joint custody in Ohio is referred to as shared parenting. Shared parenting is defined as a parenting plan that names both parents as the residential parent of the minor children and both parents have equal input in decision-making for the minor children. Parents are referred to as co-parents.
  • Sole custody: This rare arrangement is defined as one parent having exclusive legal and physical custody of their children. The parent with sole custody is the primary caretaker. The other parent may or may not be granted visitation.
  • Modification: Child custody agreements can be modified under certain conditions.

One of the key things to remember is that, legally, the child comes first. The laws are written to do what is in the best interest of the child, and judges follow that standard.

The challenge, of course, is determining what child custody arrangements are actually in the child’s best interest. More often than not, spending time with each parent is going to be best for the child – shared parenting. However, that time may not always be equal. Then there is the question of who makes decisions about the child’s health care, education and more. While child support is seen as a separate issue, it is definitely entangled with child custody decisions.

A Lawyer Who Puts Your Children First

Determining what is in a child’s best interest can be a divisive matter. This is one of the many reasons why a lawyer’s experience is important. We have handled enough of these cases to know how judges look at these situations. We know the precedents that have been set and how the courts deal with all sorts of nuances. Is one parent a stay-at-home parent? Does one parent live in another city, state or even country? Has one parent remarried? Is the child older and wants a say in the outcome? Whatever the case may be, you can count on us to provide sound, informed guidance.

Where do I file for child custody in Ohio?

In a divorce, matters of custody are settled during divorce proceedings. If you need to amend the custody agreement or completely dissolve it, you must make a separate filing. Exactly where you go to begin varies by county. In Columbus, the Franklin County Clerk of Courts Juvenile Division is where these petitions begin.

The Juvenile Division also manages cases involving delinquencies, abuse, neglect or dependency. If you need to pursue custody because of concerns over your child’s safety, this is where you would begin that process. 

What documents do I complete for child custody?

To establish your rights as a parent, either as a biological parent or if you want to amend a divorce decree, there are at least five forms that you will need to have. These forms generally want to establish your:

  • Relationship with the child
  • Health insurance status
  • Income
  • Expenses
  • Basic information

We can carefully walk you through each of these forms, explaining their relevance and needs. Our input can help improve your chances of success in court.

How can I file for emergency custody?

According to the forms provided by Franklin County, emergency custody is rarely granted, and to succeed at a filing, it must be for a “life-altering emergency.” These circumstances must involve an “immediate and present danger to the children.”

You will fill out the requisite forms and file for a “Motion for Emergency Custody” along with an affidavit confirming the reason for the motion. The court will review the request and assign a judge to the case. Your hearing must be within 30 days.

The court will need to have convincing evidence of the danger to your child, and an attorney can help you understand what evidence is compelling and what evidence is not. Your petition has a high hill to climb, but with the right help, you can succeed.

What factors do courts consider when deciding whether to award shared parenting?

Ohio courts do not use a one-size-fits-all approach to their custody decisions. They consider several factors that may impact the best interests of the children in question. When considering a shared parenting arrangement, the court will consider:

  • The parents’ ability to make joint decisions regarding the child
  • Each parent’s ability to facilitate good relations with their co-parent
  • The location of each parent
  • A history of substance abuse
  • A history of abuse or neglect
  • The recommendation of the guardian ad litem, if applicable

Family courts prefer to award shared custody whenever possible. However, this is not the best solution for every case.

What do courts consider when naming a primary caretaker?

Some situations necessitate the naming of a primary caretaker. When considering whether to name a primary caretaker, the court will consider which parent provided duties such as:

  • Bathing and grooming
  • Dressing
  • Preparing meals
  • Providing medical care
  • Facilitating social interactions
  • Assisting with or providing education

Every custody case is different, so there is no way to predict with perfect accuracy how the court will apply these factors to your circumstances. If you wish to receive an accurate assessment of your potential parenting plan, you should consult a family law attorney.

Talk To A Child Custody Attorney During A Free Consultation

Prioritize your children’s best interests while seeking the parenting schedule that is best for you. Whether you are seeking a shared parenting arrangement or you wish to be your child’s primary caretaker, we at Harry Lewis Co., LPA, can represent you. For more than 40 years, we have helped clients in the Columbus area find solutions to their child custody and parenting schedules and other family law matters. With experience and skill, we will help you advocate for the outcome that is in the best interests of your children.

Schedule a free consultation with Harry Lewis Co., LPA, to discuss your and your children’s futures. Reach our lawyer by calling 614-721-6175 or by using our online contact form.