Divorcing parents often make matters related to their children the top priority in their court proceedings. They want to have as much time with their children as possible and to maintain a degree of influence over their health, faith and education.
Typically, family law judges in Ohio overseeing contested divorces award shared parenting time to both adults in the family. Some families end up with a 50/50 division of parenting time, while many others have a less-even split. In all but the rarest of scenarios, both parents retai some decision-making authority and parenting time.
However, in a small minority of cases, one parent might obtain sole custody. When would an Ohio family law judge consider granting one parent sole custody despite the requests of the other parent in the family?
They must believe it is best for the children
Custody determinations in Ohio generally prioritize the involvement of both parents. This practice comes from an obligation to act in the best interests of the children. Sometimes judges recognize that shared parenting time will not be the best outcome.
A parent asking for sole custody will usually need compelling evidence to help convince the courts that time with the other parent could be dangerous or damaging. The situations in which a judge might award one parent sole custody often involve specific risk factors, including:
- substance abuse
- domestic violence
- prior neglect
- severe health challenges
- mental health disorders
- unstable living arrangements
In most of those situations, it would still be possible for a parent to obtain time with the children if they correct the issues that influence the judge’s decision. Going to therapy, attending substance abuse rehabilitation and even participating in parenting classes are always for a parent previously denied time with the children to put themselves in a position to request a custody modification.
The parent requesting sole custody usually needs strong evidence, like police reports or medical records, to convince the courts to limit the access and authority of the other parent. Those who seem to unfairly and inappropriately intervene in a parent-child relationship might put their own parental rights at risk. Judges may limit the access and authority of someone who has put their personal wishes ahead of the children’s best interest by trying to cut them off from their other parent.
Learning more about how Ohio handles contested custody matters can help parents to better understand their rights and options under the law. Seeking legal guidance can provide valuable clarity and support in this regard.