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How a court determines the best interests of the child

Parents in Ohio who are getting a divorce and who cannot come to an agreement about child support may have to go to litigation. The court attempts to make a child custody decision that is in the best interests of the child. A judge will take a number of elements into consideration when making this decision.

First, the judge will consider the physical and mental health of each parent and how much each parent is able to provide support for the child. This includes physical things, such as clothing and food, as well as emotional support and access to education. A judge will try to minimize both major and minor disruptions to the child's routine. The age of the child and which parent is the main caregiver are also factors. Older children may give some input into the custody and visitation arrangement. A judge will also prioritize the child's safety.

Parents can demonstrate their involvement with the child by showing that they attend the child's extracurricular activities and have participated in other aspects of the child's life. In most cases, a judge does not consider a child custody arrangement that involves cutting one child off from the other parent to be in the child's best interests. If a parent wishes to relocate with the child, the judge will consider the benefits to the child.

Parents may be happier with an arrangement that they are able to reach through negotiation than one handed down by a judge. Their attorneys might assist them in negotiating an agreement about parenting time. Litigation may be necessary if one parent is generally uncooperative or if a parent feels the child is in danger of abuse or neglect with the other parent. However, it might be necessary to provide evidence, such as a police report, to demonstrate to the judge that the child is not safe.

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