Child Custody Attorney Dayton, OH
Helping Parents through Custody Matters in Southwest Ohio
After a divorce, one of the most stressful situations can be the quest to obtain custody of children. In many cases, divorces that end with hostility often result in contentious custody battles as well. At L. Patrick Mulligan & Associates, LLC, our Dayton child custody lawyers are ready to secure a healthier future for you and your children.
When you entrust our team with your case, we will supply your family with a client-based approach and remain supportive throughout. We understand how stressful life can become when dealing with these types of issues. That is why we are here. Do not hesitate to put experienced legal counsel on your side of the courtroom. Let us make sure your child’s needs are met.
We Handle All Matters Associated with Your Case
Over the years, we have acquired the skills and knowledge it takes to obtain favorable results for our clients day in and day out. Additionally, our child custody attorneys in Dayton can help stepparents adopt children.
At our firm, we can handle various angles of child custody cases, including those involving the following:
- Child custody
- Child support
- Grandparent rights
- Modification of custody
- Modification of visitation agreements
- Termination of parental rights
- A parent’s relocation, which can lead to move-away orders
Types of Child Custody in Ohio
Under Ohio law, in a divorce involving children, the court may order parental rights and responsibilities (commonly referred to as custody) to one or both parents. The court bases its decision on what is in the best interest of the child. Even if the parents agree on a custody arrangement, the court will still ensure that it does not place the child’s (or children’s) safety at risk.
In determining what’s in the best interest of the child, the court will consider many factors, including:
- The child’s wishes
- The parents’ wishes
- The child’s relationship with each parent, siblings, and other significant people in their life
- The child’s adjustment to home, school, and community
- The mental and physical health of parents, children, and others involved in the matter
- The parents’ willingness and ability to adhere to all court orders
- The consistency of child support payments made by either parent
- The criminal history of either parent or other household members
- The adherence to any current shared parenting decrees
- The parents’ residence location (whether it is in another state)
Custody can be arranged in a few different ways. Commonly, these are referred to as sole custody, joint custody, or non-parent custody. Ohio law does not directly refer to the custody types this way; however, we will use both the statutory and common usage.
Sole Custody (Residential Parent)
The court may decide that it is in the child's best interests to grant parental rights and responsibilities primarily to one parent. Generally, this is called sole custody. Ohio law provides that when one parent is the primary legal decision-maker, they are the “residential parent and legal custodian of the child.”
When the court designates one parent as the residential parent, it must also ensure that the other responsibilities concerning the child are shared fairly with the other parent. Other responsibilities and rights include paying support and maintaining consistent contact with the child.
Joint Custody (Shared Parenting)
In some cases, the court may determine that what is best for the child is having both parents share parental rights and responsibilities. This is often referred to as joint custody. Ohio law refers to such as shared parenting.
To decide whether shared parenting is in the best interest of the child, the court will consider:
- How well the parents do or will cooperate
- How well the parents will encourage that the child maintains a strong relationship with the other parent
- Whether either parent has a history of violent or abusive behavior toward family members
- How near the parents live to each other
- Recommendations from the child’s guardian ad litem (if any)
Unfortunately, there may be some situations in which the court decides that granting custody to one or both parents would not be in the child’s best interests. In this case, the child will be entrusted to the care of a relative.
How to Prepare for Your Child Custody Hearing
If you are getting divorced and want to obtain custody of your child, you will need to attend a child custody hearing. Before you argue your case in front of a judge, you need to make sure you know what to expect from the hearing. Below is what you need to do to prepare for your child custody hearing.
You want to look professional when you appear before a judge. This means you shouldn’t wear T-shirts, hats, or provocative clothing. Remember, your first impression will be a lasting impression. Dress in business casual attire when you attend your child custody hearing.
Practice What You Will Say
You need to be familiar with the details of your case, which means you should practice the five most important points you want the judge to hear. You might not have much time to argue your case at the hearing, so memorize your most important arguments first. You also need to be prepared to provide evidence to back up your claims. If you make statements that aren’t supported by facts, the judge won’t be convinced by your argument.
Practice Counter Arguments
You need to anticipate what your ex is going to argue in court and prepare counter arguments to address their claims. Before you go to court, each parent will have to prepare a declaration of their custody and visitation wishes. Review this declaration and come up with counter statements for what they will be arguing.
Be polite when speaking to the judge, but also be assertive. Never interrupt the judge. But don’t be afraid to jump right in and explain your point after the other parent has had a chance to speak.
3 Factors That Can Affect Child Custody Outcomes
Parents are often concerned they might not get enough time with their kids after a divorce. Some courts award partial custody to both parents, while others might award full physical custody to one parent and shared legal custody to both parents. The decisions judges make depend on the well-being of the child; however, the court will look at several factors to make that determination. Here are 3 potential things that could influence a judge’s decision.
Quality of Relationships
The court will take into consideration each parent’s relationship to the child. If a child is more comfortable with one parent, it could influence the court’s decision regarding custody. Likewise, if a parent doesn’t have time for the child or doesn’t want to see the child, this could also change the decision.
If a parent has a criminal record, is involved with drugs, or has a bad reputation, a judge might decide to award custody to the other parent. This decision doesn’t necessarily reflect on the fitness of the parent to be a good influence on their child, but instead, the likelihood the parent has to stay in the child’s life. A person who has constant run-ins with the law is more likely to get arrested, which means the child will be living an unstable life. Stability is the key to most child custody decisions.
In some cases, a child’s preference is taken into account. Depending on the state, judges might interview kids to get a feel of their opinion. Alternatively, the judge could appoint a custody evaluator to speak with the child. The views of the kid will have more weight if he or she is of sufficient age, usually 14 years or older. However, the child’s preference might be put aside on behalf of his or her own best interests.
Modifications of Custody Orders
Over time, circumstances may change, and the current custody order may no longer be feasible or serve the child's best interests. In such situations, one or both parents may file a motion to modify the order. The court will consider the facts to determine whether or not the order should be changed. As with all other legal decisions concerning custody, the court will do what is in the child's best interests.
A Relentless Team Assisting with Child Custody Matters
If you are going through a divorce or have questions regarding child custody matters, call L. Patrick Mulligan & Associates, LLC today. Our child custody lawyers in Dayton handle each case efficiently and effectively to seek the best results in as little time as possible. When you are struggling with legal matters, you need a team that will show support to you and your family from beginning to end. Do not wait another minute.