Child Custody & Visitation

A child custody lawyer is often necessary to protect your parental rights. At Joel Kuhlman, Attorney at Law, we have experience in Child Custody and Visitation matters in Ohio. Our knowledge of and success in legal matters surrounding parental rights will help you through this often difficult process. Call us today, we can answer your questions and give you the legal support you need!

Many times it is unclear to parents what their rights are and what factors that are considered important to the courts when determining Child Custody and Visitation. That is why it is essential that proper representation is secured and a child custody lawyer is retained.

Child Custody and Child Visitation Frequently Asked Questions:

If I moved out does custody automatically go to the other parent?

There are no automatics when the court is in charge of determining custody of minor children. If there is an existing custody and visitation order then that is operative. If you and the other parent are married and you move out both parents continue to share equal parenting rights until a court action ensues. In the marriage situation, often times the parent remaining in the children’s home is viewed more favorably when the court is asked to make a determination.

Is Custody always awarded to the Mother?

In Ohio, gender of the parent is not to be taken into consideration by the court when making a decision on parenting rights. The sole consideration shall be “what is in the best interests of the child(ren).”

How is visitation hours determined?

Preferably by mutual agreement of the parties. If an agreement is not possible then the parties must go to court to present their case showing why it is in the child(ren)’s best interest for a certain visitation agreement to be implemented. Often times, when the parties cannot agree on a schedule, the court will implement a standard schedule. The specifics of the standard schedule are dependent upon the county you live in.

What court proceedings are necessary for securing Child Custody?

A motion and other required documentation must be filed with the proper court asking for the desired custody/visitation rights. Typically, a pretrial conference is scheduled along with a hearing date. The pretrial conference is intended to be used by the parties to attempt to resolve the matter without a hearing, narrow the issues involved, agree to the facts and circumstances in dispute, and/or discuss the evidence to be used at the hearing. The hearing itself is where you (with the help of your attorney) present your case to the magistrate/judge. After both sides present their cases the court makes a decision.

Do I have to go to court to get Visitation Rights?

Not necessarily. Unmarried mothers (mothers who are not married when they have the child) are statutorily recognized as the residential and custodial parent of the child. Therefore, no court order is required to establish an unmarried mother’s rights. An unmarried father may receive visitation rights without court order, however those rights are not enforceable unless they are documented and filed with the court. Parents who have children born of issue to the marriage have equal parenting rights unless the marriage is terminated. Upon termination the court specifies what each parents rights are.

Can visitation be agreed upon without a court ruling?

Yes, however, those rights are not enforceable unless they are filed with the court. That means either party can refuse to comply with the agreed rights without penalty.

What determines an unfit parent?

To find a parent “unfit” or “unsuitable,” the trial court must find one of the following:
1.) That the parent abandoned the child, 2.) That the parent contractually relinquished custody of the child, 3.) That the parent has become totally incapable of supporting or caring for the child, or 4.) That an award of custody to the parent would be detrimental to the child. Courts have consistently ruled that “unsuitability” is not only some moral or character weakness, but must be established by reference to the harmful effect of the custody on the child, rather than in terms of society’s judgment of the parent.

If Child Custody has already been awarded, does that mean it will never be changed?

The court cannot change a prior custody decree unless it can be shown that a change has occurred in the circumstances of the child, his custodian, or either joint custodian, and that the modification is necessary to serve the best interest of the child. The parents can mutually agree that such circumstances exist and mutually agree to a modification of a prior custody/visitation decree.