What are the Child Custody Rights of the Non Custodial Parent in Ohio?

By Elizabeth Rayne, J.D.

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Understanding the rights of a noncustodial parent in Ohio can be important for the initial allocation of physical and legal custody, as well as for any subsequent modifications. The noncustodial -- or nonresidential parent -- is usually awarded parenting time, which can follow the standard Ohio parenting schedule, or it can be adjusted on the basis of relevant factors, which the judge deems to be in the child's best interest.

Custody Overview

In Ohio, there are two ways a court may allocate the custody of the child, known as parental rights and responsibilities. The court has discretion to consider a number of factors to create a flexible plan suitable for the family. The court may award parental rights and responsibilities to one parent, or the court may order shared parenting, which does not necessarily indicate an even division of time with each parent. If a parent is awarded sole custody, he is known as the sole residential parent -- meaning the parent has both physical and legal custody. The sole residential parent is responsible for the physical care and supervision of the child, and for making all major decisions for the child.

Parenting Time

When one parent is awarded sole custody, the nonresidential parent is usually awarded visitation, which is known in Ohio as parenting time. Each county in Ohio has a standard parenting time schedule, which is used as a starting point by courts in setting parenting time schedules. Depending on the circumstances, the court may order a schedule that varies from the standard terms or restrict visitation rights -- particularly in cases involving child abuse or domestic violence. In cases of domestic violence, the court may mandate supervised visitation, parenting classes, counseling or other restrictions on parenting time.

Determining Parental Rights

In awarding parental rights and responsibilities, for both sole residential and shared parenting arrangements, Ohio courts are primarily concerned with what is in the best interest of the child. The court will consider all factors relevant to the best interest of the child, including the parent's wishes, child's interactions with the family, adjustments to schooling, mental health and character of the parents, any other persons who may significantly affect the child’s best interests and, in some cases, the wishes of the child. Additionally, the court may consider if either parent has been convinced of a felony or domestic violence, or if either parent has been denied parenting time under a court order.

Parenting Plan Requirements

In Ohio, a court will order shared parenting, giving both parents residential and legal custody of the child, if at least one parent files a shared parenting plan for the court's approval. If a shared parenting plan is not entered, the court will determine parental rights and responsibilities based on the best interest of the child. Shared parenting in Ohio does not necessarily mean an equal division of time. Some shared parenting plans allow for equal parenting time, while other plans give one parent alternating weekends or one to two evenings during the week.