According to the Public Children Services Association of Ohio, there were over 2.5 million children in the state in 2021. With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting Ohio’s divorce rate at 2.6 per 1,000 in the same year, many of these children are in a situation involving parental custody cases.
In matters of child custody, the state acknowledges the significance of considering the opinions of the children involved. However, there are guidelines for doing so.
Child’s cognitive abilities
The evolving cognitive and emotional development of children is an important factor. The court needs to ensure the child understands the situation and has the emotional maturity to express his or her opinions clearly. The legal system also recognizes the capacity of older children to form opinions and desires about where they want to live and with whom. If the court deems a child to lack reasoning ability, then it will typically not consider their input.
The court will ensure when interacting with a child to uphold his or her rights. The judge may appoint a guardian ad litem for the child. Interactions will take place in chambers without the parents or their attorneys present. It is only from this private interview that the court will accept the opinions of the child to use in making a custody determination.
As children grow older and mature, their ability to express their preferences regarding custody arrangements gains weight in the eyes of the law. By incorporating a child’s input, the state aims to create a more nuanced and child-centered approach to family law matters.