Getting divorced is a time in your life that can cause a lot of stress and uncertainty. After all, unless you agree on the terms of your divorce with your ex or have an ironclad prenuptial agreement, everything from when you see your children to who stays in the house is up in the air. You shouldn’t let that uncertainty or fear about the outcome keep you from seeking a fresh start.

It’s important for those considering divorce to understand that every family is unique, and, therefore, every divorce decree and child custody outcome is also unique. However, Ohio law has specific standards in place that can help you understand the most likely outcomes to custody proceedings in your divorce.

Ohio courts strongly prefer shared custody and parental responsibility

Long gone are the days when only one parent could secure custody in a divorce. Years of psychological and social research have made it clear that children benefit from having positive, ongoing relationships with both parents after a divorce. Given that the courts are meant to focus on the best interest of the children in custody proceedings, it makes sense that the courts typically prefer shared custody solutions.

In some situations, depending on the jobs and skills of the parents, one parent may have more parental time allocated than the other. The same may be true of decision-making authority. In many cases, however, the courts do everything in their power to split rights and responsibilities evenly between both parents. It is only in certain circumstances that the courts deviate from their preferred approach of shared custody and responsibilities.

Certain circumstances force the courts to deviate from the norm

There are certain situations in which Ohio family courts will not assign shared custody. If your ex has a history of substance abuse or addiction, that can have a profound impact on the outcome of custody proceedings. Similarly, any documented history of physical, emotional or sexual abuse may also factor into custody proceedings.

If your ex has abused your children and there is a official record of that abuse, whether it is medical documentation, court records or police records, that can help you secure sole custody to protect your children.

Even if you were the only victim of the abuse and the children were never directly harmed, records of your children being present during the abuse could also affect the outcome of custody proceedings. Depending on the details of the circumstances, the courts may allocate some visitation without overnight stays to your ex, or they might require supervised visits that involved a state worker.

Consider your potential strategies for divorce and try to determine the best outcome for your children. With careful planning, you can help ensure that your children have a safe and reliable living situation in the wake of your divorce.