What Are Child Custody Laws in Ohio?

If you live in Ohio and are going through a breakup with minor children involved, it's a good idea to get acquainted with child custody laws in the state. You may also want to know custody laws there if you and your child's parent split long ago, but new circumstances require you to rethink custody. Perhaps one of you plans to move away, remarry or has developed a personal problem that necessitates a change in custody.

Another reason for a change could be if your child has expressed a preference to live with you or the other parent full time. 

Ohio uses several factors to determine child custody laws. Primarily, Ohio relies on the child's best interests to determine child custody. At its most basic definition, the best interest of the child means doing what is best for the child's safety and happiness. But, first, parents who wish to file for child custody in Ohio should become familiar with the custody statutes there.

Custody Rights of Unmarried Mothers

In Ohio, an unmarried mother is considered to have sole physical and legal custody of the child, unless an Ohio family court determines someone else to be the legal or physical guardian. However, this doesn't mean that fathers don't have custodial rights as well.

Best Interests of the Child

An Ohio family court will utilize the following factors to determine best interests of the child:

  • The child's wishes
  • The child's relationship with the parents, siblings, and extended family members
  • The child's adjustment to home, school, and community
  • The mental and physical health of all parties involved
  • Whether parents have regularly made child support payments
  • Which parent is more likely to honor the court-approved visitation and custody order
  • Each parent's willingness to encourage the relationship between the child and the other parent
  • Any history of abuse or domestic violence
  • The geographical proximity of parents

Shared Parenting and Child Custody in Ohio

Ohio refers to joint custody as shared parenting. A plan for shared parenting shall include factors relating to physical living arrangements, child support obligations and the home where the child will reside for school vacations, holidays and days of importance (i.e. birthdays). Provisions will also be made for the child's medical and dental insurance.

Military Parents 

If a single parent is ordered to active duty in Ohio, the parent must notify the other parent within three days of receiving a military service order. The parents may then request a modification of custody.

Modification of Child Custody in Ohio

An Ohio family court will not modify child custody unless there has been a change in the child's circumstances and the modification is necessary to serve the best interests of the child.

For more information about child custody in Ohio, please speak with a qualified attorney in Ohio or refer to the Ohio Domestic Relations Statutes. Doing your own research on this issue and consulting a good lawyer will give you the best possible outcome in court.