When divorcing parents in Ohio are unable to reach an amicable child custody and visitation agreement, the decision will be left to a family law judge. It is now widely accepted that children find it easier to adjust to the realities of divorce when they spend time with both parents, which is why joint custody arrangements have become the preferred option. This means that judges will seek to ensure that children have frequent and ongoing contact with both of their parents unless this would not be in their best interests.
How visitation is determined
Before making child custody and visitation decisions, judges consider where the parents live and where the child goes to school. They may also ask each of the parents if they plan to relocate and question them about their work schedules and the amount of time they will be able to devote to parenting. Judges could be reluctant to award visitation to parents who have been convicted of or pleaded guilty to a crime that caused a child to be neglected or abused or have lifestyles that could place children in unsafe situations. Before making a final decision, judges may speak with the children.
Visitation for relatives
Judges usually award visitation to parents, but Ohio law also allows them to grant these rights to family members if doing so would be in the child’s best interests. Family visitation is usually granted to grandparents. In order to be granted visitation, relatives must petition the court and demonstrate that they have an interest in the child’s welfare. If parents refuse to comply with a judge’s visitation order, they can be held in contempt of court.
Working toward an amicable agreement
Bitter child custody and visitation disputes can leave children emotionally scarred. This is why experienced family law attorneys may urge divorcing parents to work diligently toward an agreement. When efforts to reach a negotiated settlement are unsuccessful, attorneys may advocate on behalf of parents or grandparents in court. If custody and visitation cases do go to court, attorneys might add weight to their arguments by calling on child psychologists or other experts.