Custody and Visitation

Workable Plans for Shared Parenting

Akron, Ohio Child Custody and Divorce Lawyer

Ohio courts are moving away from the traditional custody-and-visitation models in which one parent is the primary custodian and the other parent has limited time with the child and even less involvement in parenting decisions.

The presumption is now a shared parenting arrangement. This does not necessarily mean shuttling kids back and forth to spend 50 percent of their life with each parent. But, it does change the approach to child custody in the context of divorce.

Attorney John Dohner has practiced in family law for more than 25 years. He represents clients in Summit County and northeastern Ohio in determining custody, crafting parenting plans, and resolving post-divorce custody issues, including interstate custody disputes.

See our Case Summaries page to learn more.

Determination of Child Custody

If the parents can agree on terms of custody, they submit the plan to the court for approval. But, many parents simply cannot find the middle ground, in which case a judge will decide. Based on the best interests of the child, the court will impose one of three scenarios:

  • Sole Custody ("primary custody") — Mom or Dad is designated as the residential parent, and the child lives predominantly with that parent. The other parent has parenting time ("visitation"). The residential parent has the most say in decisions about schooling, activities, health care, religious upbringing, and daily life. Child support is based in part on the amount of parenting time.
  • Shared parenting ("joint custody") — Neither parent is considered the residential parent, even if there is a 60/40 or 70/30 split in where the child actually spends time. Both parents have equal say in raising the child and must agree on decisions. Parenting time is more balanced — four nights/three nights, every other week, or whatever arrangement works best. Shared parenting requires a greater degree of cooperation. Child support is sometimes reduced to reflect the equalized contributions.
  • Special Circumstances — Custody is awarded to one parent if the other parent's behavior endangers the child (abuse, neglect, drug use, domestic violence). The abusive parent’s rights may be limited (e.g. supervised visitation) to protect the interests of the child.

The court considers many factors, including age of the child, whether one parent has been the primary caregiver, or whether both parents are actively involved. Courts will also consider whether the child's relationship with the other parent will be encouraged or undermined. A judge may order shared parenting over the objections of a parent who wants primary custody or a parent who prefers less involvement. The judge can also dictate parenting schedules.

Constructing a Shared Parenting Plan

John Dohner encourages clients to focus on a shared parenting plan that they control, rather than the expense and uncertainty of a courtroom battle. The goal is a detailed, written plan that covers all the bases and best fits the needs of the parents and the child:

  • Specific days at each home
  • Pick-up and drop-off times
  • Involvement in school activities
  • Holidays and vacation
  • Parenting rules
  • Financial support and health insurance
  • Special occasions for each parent

Special Attention to Temporary Child Custody

Early in the divorce process, the court will issue a temporary order regarding parenting time. This arrangement will govern your involvement with your child while the divorce is pending and may influence the ultimate outcome. Attorney Dohner advocates aggressively for your interests at this important stage.

At the Dohner Law Firm, we are committed to providing the best service possible and to reaching the most favorable outcome for our clients and their families. We work to achieve a result that provides relief for our clients now and which they will be comfortable with well into the future. Call 330.376.6300 to arrange a consultation at our Akron or Hudson offices.