What are the common custodial arrangements ordered by the Court? 

Full custody can be granted to either parent, or the parents may enter into a Shared Parenting Plan (formerly called Joint Custody).   An initial custody determination will be made based upon consideration of what is in the best interest of the child.   Once a parent has been granted full custody, it can be difficult for custody to change to the other.  Timing is extremely important.   Kate Bowling can assess a parent’s particular circumstances to determine whether or not a custody filing is appropriate at any given time.   It is important to take the proper steps leading up to a custody filing.  Therefore, Kate Bowling encourages clients to contact her early to ensure that they are preparing appropriately in the months - and sometimes even years - leading up to a filing for change in custody. 

What is the difference between sole custody and shared parenting? 

When a parent is granted sole custody, he or she holds decision making authority and physical custody of the child.   Decision making authority includes matters of health, schooling, and general care.   In most all cases, the non-custodial parent will be granted  some type of parenting time with the child.  Parenting time schedules will vary on a case by case basis. 

In a Shared Parenting arrangement, the parents hold equal decision making authority and all major decisions affecting the child must be made jointly.  The essence of a Shared Parenting arrangement is that the parties can work cooperatively to co-parent the child.   In the right circumstances, a Shared Parenting Plan can be an effective and preferably custodial arrangement.  

What factors does a court consider when making a custody determination? 

A custody determination is made based upon many factors, and the Court will consider the unique circumstances of each family.  However, it can be expected that the Court will consider the living arrangements of each parent, the custodial history, and the stability of each parent.   Any issues involving current or past substance abuse, medical issues, mental health issues, or criminal activity may be addressed.  Attorney Kate Bowling will inquire as to these factors and encourages full disclosure in order to prepare the strongest possible case for each client.  

Can someone other than the child’s parent be awarded custody? 

Yes.  Relatives, or even non-relatives, can be awarded custody of a child in certain cases.   Generally, a non-parent is awarded custody on a temporary basis, which could last one to two years, when there is some question of a parent’s fitness or ability to care for the child.   Ohio law is very specific regarding when and how a non-parent can be granted custody.   It is important to have an attorney who is experienced in non-parent custodial filings to ensure that the legal requirements are met to allow a non-parent to take custody of a minor.