Your Central Ohio Child Custody Lawyers
If you and your spouse are separating and have children together, you will need to be thinking about how major decisions for your child will be made going forward. Who will have primary responsibility for medical decisions and care? Who will be responsible for choosing the schools they attend? How will you decide what extra-curricular activities they can be involved in? Even if you and your child’s other parent have never been married, these issues will still arise. Beyond decision-making, you and your child’s other parent will need to decide on how you will share parenting time for your child. The Columbus, Ohio office of Wood & Long, LLC has significant experience in coming to negotiated settlements to arrange for amicable ways to make decisions for your child and to arrange a mutually agreeable parenting time schedule. And when negotiations are not possible or break down, we also know how to litigate for your child’s best interest. It is imperative that you have an attorney in your corner who understands the various tools available for custody and parenting time issues and who has experience in using those tools.
What is the difference between sole custody and shared parenting?
Whoever has custody has the authority to make decisions regarding the child’s welfare. In a situation where one parent has sole custody, that parent gets to decide where the child goes to school, what religion he or she will be raised in, who the medical providers will be, whether he or she is enrolled in certain extra curricular activities, and any other decisions. When the parties enter into a shared parenting plan, they share decision making authority on all those issues. As you can imagine, this typically requires a certain level of cooperation when it comes to the best interest of the child. However, there are usually protocols that can be put in place to help guide decisions where the parties may otherwise have difficulty.
My child’s father/mother and I were never married. What rights do I have?
When the parents have never been married, the child’s mother has sole custody by default. Even if the father signed the birth certificate or a paternity affidavit, he has no rights under Ohio law, unless and until he petitions the court to establish them. The child’s mother also has the right to seek child support through the child support enforcement agency. This process cannot be used by the father to establish his rights; only the court has the authority to allocate custody and parenting time.
How will we decide the schedule for when we can see our kids?
If you as parents can decide how to allocate parenting time in a way that is least disruptive to your child(ren), then that is probably the best way to do it. However, if you cannot agree, you may need to enlist the help of a guardian ad litem. A guardian ad litem investigates on behalf of the court to determine what is in the best interest of the child(ren). They undertake a process to help figure out what would be the optimal parenting time schedule for your child(ren).
What is a guardian ad litem?
A guardian ad litem is usually an attorney, though that is not a requirement, who is appointed by the court as a disinterested person to investigate the best interest of the child(ren). They charge an hourly rate, which cost is borne by the parties. The guardian ad litem conducts interviews, home visits, requests medical records, and talks to witnesses, such as the child’s teachers and doctors. Once the guardian ad litem has gathered all the information, he or she will write and issue a report explaining what the guardian ad litem believes is in the child(ren)’s best interest.
If you are facing a child custody or parenting time issue, call our Columbus, Ohio office today at (614) 567-3031 to schedule an initial consultation. If you hire us, we will credit your account with the cost of your initial consultation.