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How Do Ohio Courts Decide Custody?

Best Interests of the Child Standard in Ohio
When parties to a child custody action are unable to reach a custody agreement on their own, the primary test that Ohio courts apply to decide custody is known as the “best interests of the child standard.” The best interests of the child standard is codified at ORC 3109.14. Whether you are a parent contemplating a divorce or a grandparent, caregiver, or other family member involved in a child custody action in Ohio, it is important to understand how courts decide custody.

In Ohio, courts determine child custody and visitation issues in part by analyzing specific factors concerning the child or children. In Ohio “child custody” and “child support” are referred to as “parental rights and responsibilities” and the factors considered in these cases are collectively known as the “best interests of the child” standard. Ohio is among approximately 22 states that codify its best interests of the child standards in its statutes.

The best interests of the child statute in Ohio assists a court in its decisions regarding child custody and these factors considered include:

The emotional relationships between the child and their parents, siblings, family and household members, as well as other caregivers;

The mental and physical health of each parent;

The capacity of each parent to provide a safe home environment as well as suitable food, clothing, and medical care for the child;

The presence of domestic violence in the home;

The wishes and concerns of the child if the court assesses that the child is able to understand their situation and the child is interviewed in chambers;

The wishes and concerns of the parents; and

Which parent is more likely to honor the court’s orders and custody arrangement – which means that the court will take into consideration whether either parent has previously disobeyed custody or visitation orders.

This is not a complete list of all factors. Further, in addition to the best interest factors listed in ORC 3109.04, Ohio courts have authority to consider “all relevant factors” when determining custody issues. “All relevant factors” encompasses not only the best interest of the child standard, but just about anything that has bearing on the best interest of a child. Which means that Ohio custody cases can become complicated. Having a clear voice in any court decision where custody of your child is at stake is essential.

We have experience with child custody matters and work diligently with our clients to create parenting and custody arrangements that result in successful negotiations outside of court. When successful agreements amongst the parties are not possible, we provide experienced advocacy in domestic relations litigation. We offer free consultations where we can provide a general assessment of your custody case in Ohio.

Call Shur Law at (513) 448-4099 to discuss the specifics of your child custody case.

This article is not specific legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. This article provides a broad overview of laws in Ohio – each custody and support situation is unique. The best way to gain a true assessment of your own child custody case or child support case is to contact an attorney.