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Jim Moskowitz
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Five Questions to Ask Your Attorney about Child Custody

If you are in the midst of a divorce or issues concerning the custody of your child have arisen, it is important to speak to an attorney to ensure that your rights as a parent are protected. In addition to issues specific to your circumstances, the following questions can help you gain a clearer understanding of what you should do and how an attorney can help you:

Are My Custody Rights at Risk?

First and foremost, you need to determine if your custody rights are at risk. If the other parent threatens your right to custody or time with your child, the most important thing you can do is to think before you react. Avoid doing anything rash that could lead someone to question your actions. Seek legal counsel immediately to learn about your rights and obligations.

What is Shared Parenting?

Shared parenting, in its purist form, is an arrangement in which parents make joint decisions concerning issues affecting their child. These issues include, but are not limited to, health, religion, education and, extracurricular activities. The details of specific arrangements for each family are memorialized in a document called a shared parenting plan.

Shared parenting can be either by agreement or, if requested by a party, by order of the Court. However, prior to making such an order, the Court must first determine if shared parenting is in the best interest of the children. In doing so, the court considers many factors including, but not limited to, the ability of the parents to cooperate and make joint decisions; the ability of each parent to encourage the sharing of love, affection and contact with the other parent; any history of, or potential for, abuse; and the proximity of the parents to each other.

My Child Told Me He/She Wants to Live with Me. Does That Matter?

As of 1991, Ohio officially no longer recognized the right of a child to choose which parent would receive custody. However, under certain circumstance, Ohio law requires that, when making a custody determination, a Court consider the wishes and concerns of a child regarding the child’s care. The Court is not bound by the child’s wishes, regardless of that child’s age. Instead, the court considers the child’s wishes and concerns as well as additional factors including:

• Each parent’s wishes
• Adjustment to home, school, and community
• Child’s relationships
• Mental and physical health of all family members
• Each parent’s likelihood to honor visitation rights
• Each parent’s record of making on-time child support payments
• Each parent’s criminal history as it pertains to abuse or neglect
• Each parent’s intention to remain in the state

Is It Possible to Modify Our First Custody Plan?

Yes, changing an existing custody arrangement is possible. These arrangements can be modified at any time by agreement. However, if one party does not agree, modifications are more difficult. Depending on the type of custody arrangement, a parent seeking to modify custody may first have to establish that there has been a change of circumstances since the last order. It will also be necessary, regardless of the type of custody arrangement, to show that a modification is in the best interest of the child. If this becomes necessary, you should seek the guidance of an attorney, just as you did when the initial arrangement was created.

My Spouse Wants Sole Custody. Will I Ever See My Child?

A common myth is that sole custody means a child resides mostly with one parent. In fact, the term “sole custody” really pertains to decision-making. If a parent has sole custody, he or she will be responsible for making the decisions concerning the issues affecting their child. These issues include, but are not limited to, health, religion, education and, extracurricular activities Sole custody does equate to more or less time for either parent. If the other parent has requested sole custody, it’s important that you speak to an attorney to learn about your rights and obligations.

The attorneys at Moskowitz & Moskowitz, LLC are experienced with Ohio child custody issues and can assist clients in navigating the sometimes confusing aspects of custody, as well as all other aspects of family law.

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