Helping Families Resolve Child Custody Issues

In many divorces, one of the most contentious issues is child custody. At Biviano Law Firm, we will represent your interests in child custody actions that are a part of your divorce. We also advise and actively represent parents who are involved in interstate child custody cases. We seek effective modification of agreements according to applicable custody laws.

When parents with minor children are in the process of a divorce, their parental rights and responsibilities must be determined by the court. If the parents can agree on parental rights and responsibilities ("custody"), the agreement must be in writing and presented to the court for approval. If the parents cannot agree, the court must decide what is in the best interest of the children regarding which parent should have primary custody and control of the children, where the children should live and on what schedule the children should be physically exchanged between the parents.

In most divorce cases, one parent or the other is designated as the residential (custodial) parent, and the other parent (the nonresidential parent) is granted certain visitation rights, known as parenting time in Ohio. The court will generally issue a parenting time and visitation schedule that indicates when the children are to be in the physical custody of each parent.

Parties can and are urged to negotiate a Shared Parenting Plan that details the relative rights and responsibilities while listing both parents as legal custodians formerly referred to in Ohio as "Residential Parents." The emerging attitude of many domestic relations courts is that the parties should default to shared parenting and only in extreme cases of factual issues will only one parent be designated the Residential Parent. This does not mean the parents will not have exposure to the child or children but the designation of participating on a Shared Parenting Plan is preferred.

If the parents cannot agree, the court will award parental rights and parenting time. Refer to our Downloadable Forms to review Companionship & Parenting Time Schedules adopted in Mahoning, Ashtabula and Trumbull counties. At times such schedules are referred to as the "Standard Order" in certain aspects.

Turning To The Courts In Custody Matters

A court must consider the best interest of the children when determining allocation of parental rights (custody awards) and the court is required by law to consider the wishes of the parents, the wishes of the children (assuming the children are old enough to express their wishes and concerns), the mental and physical health of both parties and the children, the interaction of the children with their siblings and others who are involved in the lives of the children, the child's adjustment to his home, school, and community, and certain other factors. The court is not permitted to discriminate against mothers, fathers or same-sex marital partners and there are many cases where a father is designated as the residential (custodial) parent.

The court can also order shared parenting by adopting a Shared Parenting Plan. When shared parenting is ordered, both parents are legally both legal custodians of the child and are designated as a residential parent. The main difference between shared parenting and residential/nonresidential parenting is that if one parent is designated as the residential parent, that parent has the right to make decisions in situations where parental consent is required. In shared parenting, both parents are required to make joint decisions in the best interest of the children, and neither parent has more rights than the other parent to make important decisions concerning the children. For shared parenting to be successful, both parents must be willing and able to communicate, cooperate and make decisions jointly.

Another feature of shared parenting is that the actual schedule for the parenting time can be more creatively drafted to fit each individual situation. In some shared parenting cases, the children spend equal time with each parent. However, parents can have shared parenting without equal time if some schedule other than an equal time schedule is in the best interest of the children.

It is not necessary for both parents to agree on shared parenting, and shared parenting can be ordered by the court over the objection of one of the parties. However, it must be shown that shared parenting would be in the best interest of the children.

Contact Us

For aggressive, effective representation in child custody matters, call a lawyer at our Warren law firm today at 330-392-5000 or contact us online.