For many married couples getting divorced, one of the biggest challenges will be the division of child custody and parental responsibilities. In most cases, both parents want to remain a significant presence in the life of the children. This can lead to serious conflict, especially if the divorce isn’t amicable. Parents who can’t agree on how to divide custody before heading to court will have to let the Ohio family court judge hearing the case make the major decisions.

It can be particularly nerve-wracking to have the entire future of your family in the hands of a stranger. It’s common to worry about a negative outcome in this kind of situation. Familiarizing yourself with Ohio’s standard practices when it comes to child custody can help you understand what outcome to expect from your divorce.

The courts should always focus on the best interests of the children

Many parents get caught in an ego trap during divorce. They become so focused on their own desires and emotions that they fail to see how the divorce impacts the children. They may do things that increase the already significant emotional strain on the children, such demeaning the other parent or trying to deny visitation.

The courts, however, will focus on the needs and best interests of the children, not the desires of the parents. In most cases, that means planning for an equal or nearly equal split of parenting time and responsibilities. After all, a healthy and happy relationship with both parents is important to the social and emotional development of the children.

Some situations may result in one parent receiving custody

Despite the intentions of the court to support both parental relationships with the children, there are simply some situations in which that isn’t in the best interests of the children. In situations where one parent cannot provide for the children or where a parent poses a risk of bodily harm or neglect to the children, the courts may allocate custody to the other parent and only allow for visitation.

It is important to note, however, that even when Ohio courts allocate custody to only one parent, the non-custodial parent may have options for seeking custody in the future.

Situations that can move the courts to award custody to one parent may include cases of spousal abuse, child abuse, alcoholism, drug addiction or abandonment. If there is evidence or documentation of one parent abusing the children or of the children witnessing abuse of either parent, that could have an impact on the outcome of the custody case. If one parent is mentally unstable or addicted to illicit substances, that could also impact his or her ability to provide care for the children.