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Understanding Child Custody Terms

Child custody and visitation/parenting time are the most highly contested issues in family law matters. Often, the conflict over these issues stems from one or both parties not having an accurate understanding of the legal terms and how they affect their parental rights and responsibilities. At the law firm of Sowald Sowald Anderson Hawley & Johnson in Columbus, Ohio, our family lawyers take the time to explain the terms, the process and their effect so that our clients can keep the focus where it belongs: on the best interests of their children.

Sole Custody Vs. Shared Parenting

In Ohio, there are two types of child custody: sole custody and shared parenting. Sole custody means that one parent is designated the sole legal custodian of the child(ren) and has the authority to make all decisions with regard to their care and upbringing. Shared parenting (formally called joint custody) means that both parents are legal custodians of the child(ren) and they are obligated to jointly make decisions about their care and upbringing. In recent years, the courts have moved away from the idea that one parent should be the primary and now start from the position of both parents should have equal parenting time, input and authority. That shift in philosophy has led to the requirement for a parent that does not want shared parenting and relatively equal parenting time to have the burden of convincing the court that shared parenting is not in the best interest of the children.

Visitation/ Parenting Time

“Parenting time” is the legal term for visitation and is not determined by the type of custody. Most people are familiar with the traditional parenting schedule where the child(ren) live primarily with one parent and visit the other parent every other weekend, on some holidays and part of the summer. This schedule is commonly used in sole custody as well as shared parenting arrangements in the past. It is more common these days for parents to work out more flexible and equal parenting schedules, that allow both parents to maximize their time with the child(ren). These schedules can range from the child(ren) living with one parent and visiting the other one weekend a month to the child(ren) spending equal time with both parents.

We believe that parents are best able to determine what parenting schedule will be most appropriate for their children, but if they cannot agree, the court will start from the presumption that shared parenting with equal parenting time is appropriate and it will be the burden of the parent seeking for the other parent to have less parenting time and authority to convince the court.

Learn about relocation and child custody or contact our divorce lawyers today.

What Is Mediation?

Mediation can be a great alternative to appearing in court. It is a process where a neutral person meets with both parents and facilitates discussion and thought between the parents to help them come up with an agreement that addresses their needs, desire and concerns. The mediator does not make any decisions for the parents and is not there to tell them what the agreement should be. If the parents are able to come to an agreement, the mediator prepares a written agreement for the parents to take to their attorneys so that the appropriate legal documents can be prepared to file with the court. Mediation is often a good first step towards a full resolution that can shorten the court process and save the parents a lot of time and money.

Schedule A Child Custody Consultation With One Of Our Attorneys

To schedule a consultation about child custody with a lawyer at Sowald Sowald Anderson Hawley & Johnson, call 380-217-3322 or fill out the contact form on this website. Our law office is on Fifth Street in downtown Columbus.