Ohio Parenting Plan and Agreement Guidelines

The laws about Ohio child custody and parenting plans are found in Chapter 3109 of the Ohio Revised Code.

Here are some guidelines from the law to help you make your parenting plan.

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Ohio terminology

Ohio does not use the words custody or visitation. Instead, the court uses the phrase the parental rights and responsibilities for the care of a minor child.

Your parenting plan outlines the parental rights and responsibilities for the care of your children. This means that your parenting plan shows how each parent will continue to raise and be responsible for the children after a divorce.

Shared and sole parenting

You can have a shared or a sole parenting arrangement in your plan.

In a shared parenting arrangement, both parents share the legal and physical care and custody of the child. This means that both parents make decisions for and about the child and the child spends time living with both parents.

Shared parenting does not necessarily mean the parents split their time with the child 50/50 and one parent's home may still be the child's primary residence.

Parents can choose to have shared parenting or the court may order it. The court prefers shared parenting and will usually order it unless it is not in the child's best interest.

The court will consider the following factors when deciding on shared parenting:

  • How well the parents can cooperate with each other in making decisions about the child
  • If the parents can encourage the child to have a close relationship with the other parent
  • How close the parents live to each other and to the child's school
  • Any history of abuse, domestic violence, or parental kidnapping
  • If the child has a guardian ad litem, any recommendations from the guardian

In a sole parenting arrangement, one parent is the sole residential parent who is the legal custodian of the child. This parent is responsible for making major decisions about and for the child and the child lives with this parent. The other parent has parenting time (visitation) with the child.

Required information in your plan

Your parenting plan should contain:

  • Information about shared or sole parenting
  • A declaration of the child's primary residence
  • A parenting time schedule that shows when your child will spend time with each parent.
  • Information about you and the other parent will make decisions for the child
  • How you and the other parent will change your plan as your child grows older
  • How you and the other parent will resolve disputes

You can also include other provisions in your plan so that each parent knows their responsibilities concerning the child.

Process to make your plan a court order

To make your plan a court order, you have to file your plan with the county court and a judge has to approve it.

You and the other parent can negotiate a plan and jointly submit a shared parenting plan to the court. The court usually just approve these plans, but the court may order you to make changes to the plan or it may reject portions of the plan if the judge doesn't think the plan is in the best interest of the child.

If you and the other parent don't agree on the plan, each parent can submit a separate plan to the court and the court will approve one of the plans. The court may require you or the other parent to make changes to the plan before choosing which plan to accept.

If only one parent files a plan, the court can order the other parent to submit a plan. The court will approve one of the plans or ask the parents to revise the plans before deciding on one.

Factors the court considers when deciding on a plan

When the court makes decisions about the parenting plan, it looks at what is best for the child.

These are the factors the court considers when deciding what is best for the child:

  • The parents' wishes about the care of the child
  • The child's wishes expressed in an interview with the judge
  • The child's relationships with parents, siblings, and other significant people
  • The child's adjustment to home, school, and community
  • The physical and mental health of the parents and the child
  • Which parent is more likely to comply with the court ordered parenting arrangements
  • If either parent has failed to pay court ordered child support
  • If either parent has denied the other parent's court ordered right to parenting time
  • If either parent has moved or intends to move out of the area
  • If either parent has a history of child abuse, neglect, or sexual abuse

When making decisions about the parenting plan, the court does not consider the gender of the parents, the financial status of each parent, or whether either parent has remarried.

Mediation and parenting classes

If you and the other parent don't agree on a plan, the court may order you to attend mediation before the court decides on the plan.

The court may also order one or both parents to attend parenting classes or counseling as part of the parenting plan or before the parenting plan is decided on.

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