A new parental visitation initiative has been launched that will help unmarried parents maintain relationships with their children after the romantic relationship (between parents) ends. The project is entitled Parenting Time Opportunities for Children to the 12th Power (PTOC12). It will be funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The initiative's central focus is to create a process for establishing parenting time orders at the same time that child support orders are issued. Frequently, support orders are created without consideration of parenting time because unmarried fathers typically have not petitioned the court for legal (or physical) custody. As a matter of law, sole legal and physical custody resides with the mother if the child is born out of wedlock. A paternity adjudication does not necessarily establish custody; hence the reason why support decrees are typically issued before parenting time orders.
Carri Brown, deputy director of the Fairfield County Job and Family Services Agency, explained to the Athens Messenger that most parents favor establishing both orders at the same time, and that child support payments are more consistent when there is a healthy parental bond. The project will involve 12 counties in Ohio, and Ohio University's College of Health Sciences and Professions will measure its progress; especially the effect on unmarried fathers.
The project will reportedly only involve cases where the parents can agree on custody (and perhaps parenting time) and no family violence is involved. Supporters hope that 2,000 parenting time orders will be issued over the life of the project.
Source: AthensOhioToday.com, Ohio University taking part in $400,000 parental visitation initiative, October 18, 2012