Custody Orders in OH: Types, Modification, Enforcement

A court can issue several types of custody orders, all of which legally mandate how children are cared for. Find information on emergency orders, temporary orders and final orders below.

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Emergency orders

Also known as an ex parte order, an emergency order is a type of temporary order. Under Ohio law, a child facing the following circumstances may require an emergency custody order:

  • Abandonment
  • Sexual abuse, proven or alleged
  • Custody by a sex offender
  • Endangerment due to a parent's alcohol or drug use
  • Threats of abuse or mistreatment

You can file for emergency custody at any point during a case, including when you open a case or petition to modify your current custody order (information on modifying below).

Complete your county's Motion for Emergency Custody, then write a statement detailing your emergency situation and have it notarized.

File the paperwork with your clerk of court, and you'll typically have an emergency hearing within 24 hours. Here, the judicial officer considers your evidence and testimony to decide whether to issue an emergency order. The defendant (usually the other parent) does not attend, making it an ex parte hearing.

If you're awarded an emergency order, ask the clerk of court for a copy of it so you know the conditions and can use it as evidence if your case goes to trial.

You'll then have another hearing within two weeks, where both you and the defendant can present evidence and testimony. The court will extend or terminate the order and may also order counseling, supervised parenting time or other conditions to protect the children.

Emergency orders expire after a year in new cases and after eight months in modification cases, unless they're replaced by final orders or terminated first. The court can push back these expiration dates on a case-by-case basis.

Temporary orders

Temporary orders — also known as pendente lite orders — dictate issues like residential custody, parenting time and child support throughout the settlement or litigation process.

Parents can agree on a temporary order and request approval from the court, or they can ask the court to decide on one for them.

About 30 days into a case, parents, lawyers and the judicial officer meet in a case management conference. If either parent requested a temporary order (agreed upon or not), the officer makes a ruling here. Otherwise, the conference gives parents an opportunity to discuss a potential order. They can then motion for one anytime before trial, prompting a hearing.

Unless the judge modifies or terminates it first, a temporary order remains in effect until the case gets a final ruling.

Attorneys advise parents to approach temporary orders seriously because they may impact final orders.

Final orders

A final order is a court ruling that lasts until one of the following happens:

  • The child turns 18.
  • The child is emancipated.
  • The parents reach an alternate agreement.
  • A parent proves a significant change in circumstances that requires a new order.

A final order replaces any temporary custody orders that were in place.

Your order will specify details of legal custody and residential custody for each child in the case. It will include a parenting time schedule, unless it's unsafe for the children to have contact with the nonresidential parent. The order may also mandate things like substance abuse treatment, therapy or parent coordination. Together, this information is referred to as your parenting plan.

Final orders can be reached in two ways: via settlement or trial.

Ideally, parents settle, meaning they decide the terms of their custody arrangement together and have a judicial officer sign off. Legal professionals consider this the best way to resolve cases, as it keeps families in charge of their own lives.

Alternatively, a judicial officer will rule based on evidence after a trial. If a parent has reason to challenge a judicial officer's decision, they can appeal to a higher court and begin the legal process again.

Modifying a final order

If parents agree on changes to their order, they can file a modified parenting plan to settle the issues. If approved, the new parenting plan replaces the previous one.

If parents do not agree, one must prove a significant change in circumstances before the court will modify their order.

To ask for a change of parental rights and responsibilities, complete and file the following:

To motion for a change in parenting time (visitation), complete and file these documents:

Enforcing a final order

If the other parent disobeys court orders, keep detailed records of the violations. You can use your Custody X Change journal and actual parenting time tracker. Note that the other parent may be entitled to review such records as part of discovery, if you go back to court.

For serious or repeat violations, you can contact the police or file for contempt of court. If you think your situation calls for a contempt of court case, speak to an attorney, as these are typically criminal proceedings.

Following court orders correctly

When a court issues orders, you must follow them. If you don't, you can be brought back to court, fined and more.

But orders are complicated, especially for parenting time. When exactly does "Week 2" begin this month? Which day marks the middle of summer break?

Use Custody X Change to plug your order into a calendar you can edit, share and print so you'll never have to wonder whether you're following the order correctly.

With the Custody X Change online app, you can combine schedules for the school year, summer break and holidays into one calendar.

You can even track how well court orders are being followed with our parenting time tracker and parenting journal.

Custody X Change has all the tools you need to set your new parenting arrangement up for success.

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