Methods for Establishing Custody in Ohio
Whether your goal is to obtain sole custody or establish a joint custody or shared parenting plan with your soon-to-be-former spouse, you potentially have a few options available. Our attorneys provide personal and experienced legal representation for divorcing parents in Cleveland, OH.
If you have minor children (under age 18) and are preparing to go through a divorce, securing your desired parenting rights is undoubtedly at the top of your list of priorities. While most parents just want what is best for their children, divorcing parents often have different ideas about what this means, and they must often approach custody matters with an open mind in order to avoid litigation and develop a plan that serves the best interests of their children.
As you prepare to deal with custody during your divorce, one of the first steps is to understand the different methods that are available for resolving custody-related disputes. In Ohio, these methods generally include the following:
Negotiation or Collaboration
Divorcing parents can always negotiate the terms of their custody and visitation arrangements, provided that their agreed-upon terms reflect their children’s best interests. While many couples are able to negotiate amicable terms independently, the collaborative method offers structure and professional guidance when spouses are willing to work together but need additional support in doing so.
When divorcing parents are unable to find common ground through negotiation or the collaborative method, mediation can offer a cost-effective alternative to litigating their dispute in court. Spouses can agree to pursue mediation independently; or, if they seek court involvement, the judge may require them to attempt mediation before abandoning their efforts at an amicable resolution.
If informal methods for establishing parenting rights and responsibilities are ineffective, then divorcing parents may be left with little choice but to pursue litigation. In litigation, each parent (through his or her attorney) presents evidence to the judge, and then the judge makes a determination based upon Ohio’s “best interests of the child” standard. Due to the time and costs involved, even when divorcing parents are completely at odds, litigation should generally be a means of last resort. But, when it is necessary, it gives both parents equal opportunity to present their best case for their desired rights.
Child Custody Evaluations
During child custody litigation, the court may order one or both parents to undergo a psychological evaluation. These evaluations are common when one or both spouses alleges that the other suffers from a mental disability or is struggling with an issue such as alcohol dependence, or when a child has special needs and the judge feels it is necessary to gain a better understanding of each parent’s respective ability to provide the care and support their child requires. However, this list is by no means exhaustive, and child custody evaluations occur under a variety of other circumstances as well.
If you must undergo a psychological evaluation as part of your custody dispute, you need to do everything you can to prepare. For more information, we encourage you to read: Will I Need to Undergo a Psychological Evaluation to Obtain Custody in My Divorce?
Appointment of a Guardian ad Litem
In child custody litigation, the court may also appoint a guardian ad litem (typically an attorney or social worker) to represent the best interests of the couple’s children. Like psychological evaluations, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem independently, or it may do so by request of one of the parties. There are many unique aspects to custody proceedings involving guardians ad litem, and parents should be prepared to respond appropriately.
Speak with a Divorce and Child Custody Attorney in Cleveland, OH
If you would like more information about the options available for resolving custody disputes during your divorce, we invite you to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. To speak with one of our experienced family law attorneys in confidence, please call (855) 701-1004 or inquire online today.