6 People to Know in Ohio Parental Rights Cases

Your Ohio parental rights and responsibilities case may involve many professionals. Below, find a breakdown of what each does.

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Clerk of court

The clerk of court is an elected official in charge of keeping records and issuing warrants and summonses in an Ohio county court. They file the paperwork when you open your case, and they serve the defendant.

Judicial officer

The judicial officer is the judge or magistrate who hears your case. Every case is initially assigned a judge, but the judge can appoint a magistrate to preside instead, if their schedule requires.

Judges and magistrates have nearly identical functions, but a magistrate's decision needs a judge's approval to become a final order. Nonetheless, parents must abide by the decision while they wait for a judge to sustain or overrule it.

Court reporter

Court reporters are responsible for recording all court proceedings and preparing transcripts of trial proceedings. One will be present during your depositions, hearings and trial.

Staff attorney

Staff attorneys assist judicial officers by conducting legal research, drafting legal opinions, answering questions from parties or their attorneys, and more. They may conduct hearings at the request of the judicial officer.

Guardian ad litem

Guardians ad litem (GALs) are lawyers or court-appointed special advocates (CASAs) who help the court determine the child's best interests. The court will specify if a GAL who is a lawyer may simultaneously serve as the attorney for the child (details below).

The court typically appoints GALs in cases with allegations of parental alienation, abuse or neglect. Parents may ask the court to appoint one, or it can appoint one unsolicited.

The GAL interviews the children and parents in the case, as well as people who know the family. They file a report that becomes one factor the judicial officer considers when determining custody orders. In addition, GALs often testify on children's behalves during trial.

If parents return to court for an appeal, modification or other case involving the child, the court will appoint the same GAL.

Unless they present proof they can't afford it, parents must pay the guardian ad litem's fees. The GAL does not start work on a case without a deposit, usually $1,000 to $1,500. After that, parents make monthly payments, splitting the costs as ordered by a judicial officer.

Attorney for the child

While the guardian ad litem represents the child's best interests, the attorney for the child advocates for the child's wants. If qualified, the guardian ad litem can serve as the child's attorney. In rare cases, the court appoints a different lawyer.

Attorneys for children litigate for child clients in the same way regular attorneys litigate for adults, submitting evidence and calling witnesses on the child's behalf. Parents are responsible for the attorney's pay.

Professional technology

The professionals working on your case have many tools on hand. One of them is available to parents, too: Custody X Change.

With a parenting plan template, custody and visitation calendars, a digital journal and beyond, the Custody X Change app makes sure you're prepared for whatever arises in your journey to custody and visitation

Take advantage of the technology the professionals use, and get what's best for your child.

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