As the Ohio State Bar Association explains in a recent article on its website, child custody is a lot different today than it used to be. This may come as a welcome surprise to adults who went through their parents' divorces as children many years ago.
In the past, parents fought hard to "win" custody rights to their children over their soon-to-be exes. And, sadly, children were often treated like pawns in a divorce. Although that, unfortunately, still happens in some cases, the laws today are set up to place a focus on what is best for the children in child custody cases.
Additionally, although children decades ago were sometimes forced to "choose" which parent to live with, this does not happen today as courts recognize its damaging affect. Instead, when children are mature enough to tell the court their wishes, they may do so voluntarily.
Today's child custody laws place an emphasis on the child getting love and support from both parents, and it is up to the parents to figure out a parenting time agreement that works to support these goals.
In cases where parents cannot agree on what is best for the child, the court may intervene by assigning a guardian ad litem to determine what is in the child's best interests.
In most cases, what results is a "shared" parenting arrangement. A shared parenting plan details both parents' rights and responsibilities, including when the child will spend time with each parent, which may not be equal.
The court may accept a parenting plan proposed by one or both parties, or it may order that a different plan be adopted if the court feels that it would be in the child's best interests.
In our next post, we will discuss some of the guidelines that apply to creating and implementing parenting plans, and how an agreement can be reached by the parents with the help of a legal professional such as an attorney or mediator.