How to Get Full CustodyPosted November 2, 2020 by admin
When it comes to pursuing child custody, you’re probably quite motivated. After all, there’s a reason you want to raise and support a child. Your heart’s already in it, and because you’re reading this, you want to be as prepared as possible. That’s the responsible and smart route to take.
There are a few things to keep in mind as you embark on the process of securing full custody of a child. Let’s explore them together.
Step 1: Find a Family Law Attorney You Can Trust
Before entering the often-complex arena of child custody, you’ll need a knowledgeable professional by your side. This person can explain the ins and outs and everything you need to do throughout the process. He or she can make sure you’re doing what you need to do to get full custody — from beginning to end. This is of the utmost importance because for married parents most courts in Ohio order shared parenting. Unmarried mothers have a much better chance to obtain sole custody of her children.
Step 2: Understand the Child Custody Laws in Ohio and Local Rules in Your County
The more knowledge you arm yourself with, the better. This will give you a specific idea of what you can do to show the court you deserve full custody of the child and that it’s in the child’s best interest. As we mentioned in our post “How Can a Mother Lose Custody of Her Child?”, Ohio courts base custody decisions on what’s considered to be the “best interest” of the child. The courts look at factors such as:
(a) The wishes of the child’s parents regarding the child’s care;
(b) If the court has interviewed the child in chambers pursuant to division (B) of this section regarding the child’s wishes and concerns as to the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities concerning the child, the wishes and concerns of the child, as expressed to the court;
(c) The child’s interaction and interrelationship with the child’s parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interest;
(d) The child’s adjustment to the child’s home, school, and community;
(e) The mental and physical health of all persons involved in the situation;
(f) The parent more likely to honor and facilitate court-approved parenting time rights or visitation and companionship rights;
(g) Whether either parent has failed to make all child support payments, including all arrearages, that are required of that parent pursuant to a child support order under which that parent is an obligor;
(h) Whether either parent or any member of the household of either parent previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to any criminal offense involving any act that resulted in a child being an abused child or a neglected child; whether either parent, in a case in which a child has been adjudicated an abused child or a neglected child, previously has been determined to be the perpetrator of the abusive or neglectful act that is the basis of an adjudication; whether either parent or any member of the household of either parent previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to a violation of section 2919.25 of the Revised Code or a sexually oriented offense involving a victim who at the time of the commission of the offense was a member of the family or household that is the subject of the current proceeding; whether either parent or any member of the household of either parent previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to any offense involving a victim who at the time of the commission of the offense was a member of the family or household that is the subject of the current proceeding and caused physical harm to the victim in the commission of the offense; and whether there is reason to believe that either parent has acted in a manner resulting in a child being an abused child or a neglected child;
(i) Whether the residential parent or one of the parents subject to a shared parenting decree has continuously and willfully denied the other parent’s right to parenting time in accordance with an order of the court;
(j) Whether either parent has established a residence, or is planning to establish a residence, outside this state.
Step 3: Prove You Are the “Better Parent”
When a parent requests sole child custody, the court will follow the “better parent” standard. This means the court needs to be clearly convinced that one parent is better than the other. This is a high burden.
If both parents have been positively involved in the child’s life up to this point, it can be difficult to prove you are the “better” guardian and sole custody to you is in the child’s best interests. Courts don’t usually want to prevent either parent from decision making rights for the child, especially if both parents are positive influences.
Remember: Courts care most about the best interest of the child. In every way, your reason for seeking sole custody should revolve around this factor. How does giving you full custody benefit the child? How would the child be negatively affected if you were not given full custody?
Factors that will quickly tell the courts you are not the better parent include:
- Drug use and possession
- Child abuse or neglect
- Domestic violence
- Violating court orders
- Breaking the law in any way
- Physical or mental health conditions that hinder your ability to care for a child
Step 4: Fill Out Necessary Paperwork
The Law Offices of Kenneth R. Kline will help you with this step. Make sure to complete all required paperwork to seek full custody of a child including the Parenting Proceeding, Health Insurance, and Child Support Affidavits. You can find the forms at your local courthouse or at the Ohio Supreme Court https://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/JCS/CFC/DRForms/default.asp. We will submit the forms for you. Talk to your lawyer about what you need to do and when certain items should be completed.
Step 5: Attend the Child Custody Hearing
After you’ve prepared with your lawyer in all of the above ways, it’s time for the initial temporary child custody hearing. Usually these hearings last anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. It’s the prime time to speak your case in a calm, collected manner, if called on. You will only have a few minutes, and you will speak directly to the magistrate or judge (not a jury). If you have specific questions about what to expect, talk to your attorney — he will be by your side during the hearing. Most temporary orders end up being agreed to or decided based upon written affidavits. All final orders for custody require an in-court hearing before the magistrate or judge.
Step 6: Respect the Court’s Decision
The magistrate or judge may or may not give a ruling the day of your final child custody hearing. Sometimes, it takes more than one hearing for the court to come to a decision. If the latter is true for you, try to be patient and calm. There is nothing more you can do at this point. It takes the Court time to write a decision considering all of the required statutory factions. Unfortunate, sometimes this can take up to a year.
If the courts don’t agree that you alone are the “better parent”, they may decide to award you and your spouse shared parenting. Again, this decision is made in the best interest of the child, in which case the court believes both parents are fit to have physical and/or legal custody and share in the decision making process for the child.
Whether getting full custody seems like an easy win or a longshot, the pursuit is often worth it. When you first meet with Mr. Kline to discuss custody of your child, he will walk you through all of the above to make sure you are prepared.
Columbus Ohio Child Custody Lawyer
The Law Offices of Kenneth R. Kline LLC is honored to work with both traditional and non-traditional families to assist them through extraordinarily difficult times. Please contact us with any questions.