How to file for child custody after divorce?

By: Thomas T. Woods

When parents go through a divorce procedure, the custody of their child or children needs to be resolved in the court. Based on the proceedings, the judge may declare joint legal custody, where both parents share equal decision-making power. Alternatively, one parent may get main child custody whereas the other may get only visitation rights. The outcome of the child custody dispute typically varies from one case to another.

How to File for Child Custody?

After a divorce, a parent needs to file a legal motion along with a detailed parenting plan with the court in Ohio. If both parents mutually agree on a custody plan, they can simply file a single motion and a parenting plan. In this case, the court doesn’t need to hold a hearing to finalize custody.

However, if the parents disagree, they will have to file separate motions and parenting plans. And the custody dispute is quite likely to stretch into a long and vexing process. In such a scenario, seeking the help of divorce lawyers becomes imperative to win the custody of your child.

The legal motion, more specifically called “Motion for Child Custody” is a simple document that requires only basic information about the child and the parent. But the other document, i.e. the parenting plan is slightly complex. It requires the parents to specify how each parent will take care of the child after the divorce. Remember to take into account every parent’s work schedule and the child’s school routine. For instance, if you work at a certain time when your child is not in school, let the other parent be with the child at those times.

All experienced divorce lawyers help to formulate a good parenting plan that covers all topics such as child support, where the child will attend school, division of parenting time, transportation, relocation needs, daycare facilities, health insurance, education needs, etc.

Both the motion and the parenting plan needs to be filed with Ohio’s domestic relations court. A filing fee also has to be deposited along with the documents. Once the paperwork has been successfully filed, the court will schedule a hearing.

Court’s Hearing and the Best Interest Test

If the parents disagree on a mutual custody arrangement, the court will review the submitted plans and decide what is best for the child.

While determining custody, the court will take into account several factors like parent’s character and history, family relations, financial status and stability, earning ability, and more. In Ohio, the court also considers the child’s wishes. However, that is not the single deciding factor in finalizing child custody.

Once the court has approved a parenting plan, it will be finalized and the child custody arrangement will go into effect. It must be noted that the custody arrangement is subject to modification. Any time a court finds that the change in circumstances needs the decision to be revised, it can overrule, provided that the modification is in the child’s best interest.

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