As we began discussing in the last post, Ohio's treatment of child custody matters have changed a lot over the past few decades. While one parent typically "won" custody of the child over the other parent many years ago, today both parents typically play an important role in "shared" parenting arrangements.
As we also discussed, a shared parenting plan can be decided upon by the parents themselves or ordered by the court, either based on a proposal made by one or both parents, or based on the court's interpretation of what is in the child's best interests.
In many cases, it is possible for the parents to use mediation to come up with a shared parenting plan that is in the child's best interests and they both can agree to. Then, the plan can be submitted to the court for approval. You can read more about the benefits of mediation here.
There are certain guidelines that parents should keep in mind when it comes to creating and implementing a shared parenting plan, which were explained in a recent article by the Ohio State Bar Association, including:
- The plan should afford the child frequent contact with both parents (unless there is a physical or substance abuse issue).
- There should be a way to adjust the plan when necessary such as an online scheduling mechanism.
- Parenting time should not be used as a way to check up on the other parent.
- If one parent is the "residential" parent, he or she should provide the child's clothes and necessities for the child's time with the non-residential parent.
- Child support is separate from child custody, which means a parent cannot stop paying child support if the other parent is withholding the child, and vice versa. (Contact a lawyer if either is happening.)
- Parents should spend as much quality time with their child as possible during their parenting time.
- Parents should make sure that the child is ready to go at the expected time for drop-offs and pick-ups.
- Parents should make the time they have with the child enjoyable and refrain from talking negatively about the other parent.
Hopefully, these guidelines are helpful in understanding how shared parenting plans should be developed and carried out. Of course, an experienced family law attorney can also provide helpful guidance.