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Ohio child custody: Rules 27 and 22 are really guidelines

Family affairs are never easy. There are children to transport, jobs to get to, activities to attend, school years to prepare for. There may be homes you know of where all things run like a well-oiled machine. But it's more likely that the bustle of life has most families feeling as if they're being pulled in different directions.

Consider what happens then in the event mom and dad divorce. Not only are all the previous demands on time still present, but now they require a level of coordination that might strain the brains of even the best logistics experts. Who gets Johnny and Judy, when? Where do the kids need to be? How will they get there? What's fair? What's in the children's best interest?

These are the kinds of child custody issues that parents need to sort through and family law attorneys with experience are prepared to help with. But to give parents a place to start, each county has its own codes. In Franklin County, those codes are called Rules 27 and 22.

As ominous as the titles appear, it's more accurate to think of them not as rules, but more like guidelines. Indeed, that's how Franklin County refers to them on its official website. The documents lay out models for shared parenting time that set some specific minimum standards for custody, vacations, holidays and more. But they also make clear that there is room for flexibility.

The court's presumption is that time with both parents is important for the welfare of children. It makes a point of encouraging parents to come up with "liberal" arrangements tailored to what they feel is best for the children before anything becomes a matter of court order. And even then, a modification from the court can be sought if it's shown to be needed.

The standards do represent the baseline and get pretty detailed. They may seem perplexing at first glance. But they do provide a place to begin, and consulting with an attorney can help unravel the apparent mysteries.

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