What are the options with respect to custody of minor children?

Parental rights and responsibilities are allocated based on a multitude of factors. The most common custody arrangements are sole custody and shared parenting. Parents can agree to one or the other, and if they can't, the Court will decide what is in the child(ren)'s best interest. The Court will only decide custody as a very last resort, and many processes and procedures are utilized before that determination is made.

Sole custody under Ohio law is the designation of a primary residential parent and legal custodian. In a sole custody situation, one parent has full control over all issues involving the children, and has sole decision making authority.

Shared parenting is the preferred method of allocation of parental rights and responsibilities. In this situation, a shared parenting plan is drafted and signed by both parties, which addresses all issues with respect to parenting and raising the child(ren). The success of shared parenting is largely dependent on the parties' ability to communicate and to work together to make decisions that are in the best interest of the children. It is important to note that there is a distinction between decision making authority and parenting time (commonly referred to as "visitation"), and parties can have shared parenting without necessarily having equal parenting time. The willingness of both parents to facilitate a respectful, loving relationship between the children and the other parent is a key component of a successful shared parenting situation.