Ohio Parenting Plans and Custody Agreements

A parenting plan (sometimes called a custody agreement) outlines how parents will share the rights and responsibilities of raising their children.

Many Ohio custody cases involve a parenting plan. If parents settle, they draft one together, with or without legal professionals. If a judicial officer decides the case, he or she issues a parenting plan as part of the final order. You might also use a plan to negotiate with the other parent or present your requests to the court.

Many uniform aspects of making a parenting plan are the same regardless of your state. Below are guidelines specific to Ohio.

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Information required in your plan

Your parenting plan must address three topics: residential custody, legal custody and child support.

Residential custody

Residential custody determines where the children reside for purposes of determining which school district the children will attend and may determine who acts as their primary caretaker. Specify whether one parent will have sole residential custody or the two parents will have shared parenting. Either way, include a written parenting time schedule to show when the children will be with each parent. Each child can have a different schedule depending on their age among other factors.

Legal custody

Legal custody is the authority to make decisions for and about your children. Your plan must state whether one parent will have sole legal custody or the two parents will have shared parenting.

For shared parenting, you may specify when one parent will have purview over decisions (for example, all medical decisions), when the two must agree and whether they'll consult a third-party, such as a parenting coordinator, to resolve disagreements.

Child support

Each plan must include a child support worksheet for sole/shared custody (or, in rare cases, a child support worksheet for split custody), and a Health Insurance Affidavit, which helps determine who will be responsible for the children's health insurance.

You must address child support in your parenting plan regardless of whether either parent will receive it. If parents settle, they can agree on an amount without using the state's formula, but the court must approve it.

Shared parenting plans

Many Ohio courts prefer shared parenting — in which parents share legal and residential custody — unless it would not benefit the children.

You can use Ohio's shared parenting plan template or your own document, such as the Custody X Change parenting plan template, to lay out the details of shared parenting. You might even combine the two templates, using Custody X Change to choose from hundreds of additional provisions popular with parents.

If shared parenting won't work for you, you can use Ohio's parenting plan template, Custody X Change or a combination of the two.

Additional information to include

You aren't required to have additional information in your plan, but courts encourage parents to include as much detail as possible.

To avoid later stress and confusion, try to think of all potential disagreements ahead of time, then stipulate in your plan exactly how they'll be handled.

Below are key elements Ohio attorneys and mediators advise clients to include.

Expenses

In Ohio, some parents with similar incomes split large expenses evenly: medical bills, school tuition, etc. Each parent covers smaller costs when the children are in their care, and child support payments serve to even out these expenses. Specify in your plan whether you'll use this setup or a different one.

Tax claim eligibility

Designate who may claim the children on taxes. If you contribute equally to your children's needs, you can alternate who claims the children each year.

Information sharing

Specify how you’ll share important information with one another, such as:

  • Your children’s grades, test scores and other educational records
  • Medical records
  • Emergency contacts
  • Travel itineraries when taking the children on vacation (flights, hotel, etc.)
Parent–child communication

Decide when and how to communicate with the children when they’re with the other parent. What time is too late to call on a school night? Should you provide updates throughout the day? Is video calling allowed?

Relocation clause

Include a clause that mandates you and the other parent live within a certain area. You can also specify a timeframe in which parents must notify one another of a move.

Exchanges

It's a good idea to specify that the receiving parent will be responsible for picking up the kids. The parent who's already with the children can often be distracted or want more time, so custody exchanges are more likely to happen punctually when the receiving parent does the transporting. (This does not apply to parenting plans in which parents meet at neutral locations or use a third party to exchange their children.)

Response time

Plans should always state how long a parent must wait after contacting the other before he or she can act alone. For example: If two parents agreed to make decisions about extracurricular activities together, but one hasn't replied to an email about a new karate class, how long before the other parent can sign the kids up on his or her own?

Schedule specifics and unexpected changes

To complement your schedule, include definitions to support your schedule. Does the weekend begin at 3 p.m. on Friday? What length of time constitutes a dinner visit? Also, make sure your plan lays out ways to deal with unexpected scheduling changes. For example, what happens if a parent is suddenly unable to pick up the children?

Periodic schedule review

Your children’s activities will change as they get older. Consider a provision that allows adjustments to the parenting time schedule every few years without going to court.

Third-party influence

Name someone to be the "tie-breaker" when you’re at a standstill with the other parent. You can hire a mental health professional, like a parenting coordinator, or ask a mutual friend to act as the decision maker when you disagree.

New partners

Specify how you’ll introduce new partners to your children. Should the other parent meet your partner before the children? How soon after relationships begin should you introduce your partner to the children? Are you comfortable with the kids addressing the partner as "mom" or "dad"?

Mutual respect

The amount of respect parents give one another impacts their children. Include a provision requiring respectful communication in order to hold both parents to a standard that fosters healthy family relationships.

Special circumstances

Your parenting plan should be unique to your family and reflect any special circumstances. Consider including specialized provisions in your plan, such as:

Factors the court will consider

The judge will turn a plan into a court order only if it ensures the health, safety, and welfare of your children. He or she will look at the following:

  • Your child's age
  • Your child's health
  • Your child's relationship with each parent
  • Your child's preference (if he or she is mature enough)
  • Your child's ties to school, home, and community
  • Each parent's ability to care for the child
  • Any evidence or history of drug or alcohol abuse by a parent
  • Any history of abuse by a parent against the other parent, a partner or a child

In addition to the above factors, before granting a shared parenting arrangement, the court may consider if:

  • Parents can cooperate on parenting decisions
  • Parents encourage their children to have contact with the other parent
  • There's a history of — or potential for — kidnapping, violence or abuse by either parent
  • Parents reside within a reasonable distance to one another
  • A guardian ad litem has made a recommendation against shared parenting
More guidance

For more guidance as you create your parenting plan, see these resources:

The easiest way to make a parenting plan

When you’re writing a parenting plan, it’s critical you use airtight language that leaves no room for interpretation. You must also be careful not to omit any information required by the court.

If you hire a lawyer, he or she will write up the plan and ensure it meets the court’s requirements. If you hire a mediator in Ohio, he or she will help you draft a memorandum of understanding that you or your lawyer can use to draft a parenting plan.

If you’re writing your own plan, use technology to take the guesswork out of the equation. The Custody X Change app will walk you through each step of creating a comprehensive parenting plan.

The result will be a professional document that demonstrates your competence as a parent from the first glance.

The easiest and most reliable way to make a parenting plan is with Custody X Change.

Custody X Change is software that creates professional parenting plan documents and parenting time schedules.

MAKE MY OHIO PLAN NOW

Custody X Change is software that creates professional parenting plan documents and parenting time schedules.

MAKE MY PLAN