Child Custody

Child Custody Lawyer in Columbus, OH

One of the most difficult things a parent must do when ending their marriage is negotiate a child custody arrangement. They’ll need to work with their spouse to establish living arrangements, parenting time and visitation privileges, and decision-making authority. Furthermore, if either parent’s circumstances change and they become unsatisfied with their current custody arrangement, they may request a modification.

Custody decisions require difficult conversations. Each spouse likely has their own ideas on how their custodial arrangement should look, which means disagreements can and do happen. When spouses can’t agree on a parenting schedule or modification to an existing arrangement, a court will get involved. 

Chris Smith Law can help you negotiate or modify a custody arrangement. Call (614) 412-4442 today to schedule a free consultation with our Columbus child custody lawyer.

Parental Rights and Responsibilities in Ohio 

There are two main issues to settle in Ohio child custody cases: parenting time (or “physical custody”) and decision-making rights (or “legal custody”). Parenting time is the share of time each parent has with the child, and decision-making rights refers to each parent’s legal capacity to make decisions on behalf of their child. Ohio’s legal statutes refer to these topics collectively as “parental rights and responsibilities.” 

Parenting Time Schedules and Visitation 

In most divorces, Ohio courts award parenting time to both spouses. Each parent will have a court-sanctioned allotment of time that they can spend with their child, called “parenting time” or “residential time.” The entire residential time arrangement is sometimes referred to as a “parenting time schedule.” These schedules can vary drastically from case to case. 

The spouse with more parenting time is the “residential parent” or “custodial parent.” The party with less is the “noncustodial parent.” The noncustodial parent’s residential time is sometimes referred to as “visitation.”

Many counties have published guidelines, or “options,” that they use as a starting point, but they adjust these options as they see fit. 

Here are four general parenting time options: 

  • The child will live with one parent one week and the other the next
  • Parents will split the week equally and alternate weekends
  • The child will live at one residence most weekdays but spend one with the other parent. Parents will alternate weekends. 
  • Parents will alternate weekends, but the child will only live with one during the week. The noncustodial parent will be allowed 3 hours visitation one weekday evening. 

These broad options are based on Franklin County’s guidelines; however, each county (including Franklin) includes additional restrictions regarding specific times and days for drop-offs and pick-ups. Still, these public guidelines are just for reference. Courts frequently deviate from them. 

Decision-Making Rights

Parents with decision-making rights can make educational, medical, and certain religious decisions on behalf of their child. If both are permitted to make these decisions, they have shared decision-making authority. If just one has that privilege, they have sole decision-making authority

How Do Courts Determine Child Custody Arrangement

When spouses can’t agree on a custody arrangement, courts consider several factors to decide what they believe to be in the best interests of the child. 

Potential factors may include:

  • The parents’ wishes 
  • The child’s preferences
  • Each spouse’s relationship with their child, including their ability to share love and affection
  • Each party’s demonstrated willingness to cooperate with one another 
  • Where the child attends school
  • Where the parents live
  • The mental and physical health of all parties
  • Any record of abuse or neglect (if applicable) 

Ultimately, courts will consider any factor they believe will help them determine the child’s best interests. 

If you’re dealing with a child custody dispute, you don’t have to do it alone. At Chris Smith Law, our child custody attorney can help you pursue an arrangement that protects your child and your parental privileges. We can help represent your interests during discussions with your spouse and may be able to help you avoid a costly trial. If your case does go to court, we’ll help you understand how Ohio’s laws apply to your situation and will advocate for your parental rights. We serve Franklin County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, and Licking County

You can speak with our Columbus custody lawyer by calling (614) 412-4442, or you can send us the details of your case using our contact form.


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    "Christopher Smith is a trial attorney who has litigated many different types of cases in various courts across the State of Ohio. From cases involving divorce to cases that take the unique skill of fighting for parental rights, Christopher Smith has earned the reputation as an aggressive advocate for his clients."

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