Your relationship with your child is precious — but you’re worried about how your divorce will affect that relationship in the future. Will you get shared parenting, or will you be relegated to visitation only?
Unless you and your co-parent can agree on an arrangement, the issue will have to be settled by a judge. If so, the decision comes down to what is in the “best interests of the child.”
How does the court determine a child’s best interests?
The court will, naturally, consider both parents’ wishes on the matter. You and your spouse will each have an opportunity to make a case for why custody should be decided one way or another.
In addition, Ohio law instructs the court to consider:
- The child’s wishes on the matter (if your child is old enough and mature enough to express their thoughts)
- The child’s relationship to each parent, their siblings or other people in the home(s) where they might be living
- The physical and mental health of both the parents and the child, and any special concerns regarding those
- Each parent’s willingness to facilitate a positive relationship between the child and the other parent
- Each parent’s willingness to cooperate with their co-parent and engage in joint decisions where the child is concerned
- How close the two parents’ homes are to each other
- How well the child has adjusted to their current home environment, school and community
In addition, the court is also free to consider the impact of any history of abuse or neglect by either parent or members of their household on the child’s safety and well-being.
One thing the court cannot do is give custody preference to the parent with the greater financial means. In essence, that means that you don’t have to worry that your spouse will automatically get custody of your child simply because they have a bigger bank account.
Custody battles can be emotionally exhausting, but the more you know about the law, the easier it is to handle the process.