Divorce Courts here in Columbus and Central Ohio are focused upon the best interests of the child. Ohio Courts believe it is in the best interest of a child to spend “quality time with each parent” on a regular basis, and this usually results in an even division of time between the households of former spouses. Parenting time should reflect the natural patterns and lifestyle of the child(ren) before the divorce of the parents, and efforts should be made to preserve each child’s activities and normal life schedule.
It is important to note that parenting time is not impacted by issues outside of the parent-child relationship such as infidelity. Parenting time should be preserved and is protected by Ohio and federal law regardless of changes that occur down the road such as remarriage, or entry into a same sex relationship following the divorce.
There are issues that can limit parenting time allocations including criminal behavior, abuse, domestic violence, neglect, alcohol or drug additions, or harmful activities that occur in the home when children are present. Ohio Courts will take these issues into account from the perspective of protecting the child. Supervised visits may be ordered, or visitation may be prohibited altogether.
Parenting time is completely separate from the payment of child support. This is a critical issue to understand. You cannot deny parenting time (which used to be called “ visitation”) based upon the non-payment of child support. In fact, withholding parenting time based upon a claim of non-payment of support can actually be used against you in a post-decree contested custody hearing.
The division of parenting time can be creative and is intended to give each parent significant time with the children. Parenting time plans are as diverse and varied as the couples who appear before Columbus Ohio divorce courts. If you are struggling with the division of parenting time or have other questions regarding child custody or parenting time, including what all issues may be involved in a shared parenting plan that would become a court order, I invite you to contact my office at 614-764-0423.