How COVID-19 May Impact Your Ohio Custody Agreement

While health officials are widely recommending social distancing, co-parents find themselves in a difficult situation: maintain the current arrangement or prevent parenting time to decrease the risk of catching and spreading the virus. Below, we discuss what you should know about how the current COVID-19 pandemic may impact your custody agreement in Ohio. We can also address your concerns in your particular situation during a confidential consultation.

Custody Orders

If there is an existing child custody order in place from a divorce, dissolution, custody or other family law case, that order will still apply until it is modified. Parents who choose to withhold parenting time may face contempt charges for not abiding by the legal order of the court.

Due to widespread concern, some states have issued orders telling parents that they must adhere to their regular custody schedules and observe the typical school-year calendar even if class is not in physical session. While Ohio has not currently made such a directive, such orders may be influential to a judge deciding whether a parent is not returning a child in good faith or is violating the existing order.

You can discuss your concerns and your legal rights and responsibilities by contacting an experienced Ohio family attorney at the Law Office of Charles Tyler.

Agreed Changes

It is important that parents try to work together during a time of crisis and to consider the hypothetical risks and the real risks. Open and respectful communication is vital to a positive co-parenting relationship.

If both parents agree to make changes to the existing custody or parenting plan out of concern for health or safety, they are free to do so. They should document all changes.

To make it official, a family law attorney in Ohio can prepare an agreed entry for the court’s approval.

Petitioning for Modification

The allocation of parental rights and responsibilities can always be modified in Ohio. However, the parent who wants to make the change when the other does not agree has the burden of establishing why the change should be made. The other parent must prove that circumstances have changed since the last order was made and that a modification in custody or parenting time is in the best interest of the child. There is a presumption that the existing arrangement is in the child’s best interest, but this presumption can be overcome.

Under Ohio law, the family court will order a modification only if one of the following situations apply:

  1. Both parents agree to the proposed changes
  2. The child and the residential parent agree that the child has been integrated into the other parent’s home
  3. The harm that is likely to be caused by a change in the residence of the child is outweighed by the advantages of the change

The court considers many factors in determining whether a modification is in the best interest of the child, including:

  • The child’s wishes
  • The child’s relationship with each parent, his or her siblings and other loved ones in each respective household
  • The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school and community
  • Each parent’s mental and physical health
  • Which parent is more likely to encourage a relationship with the other parent and follow the court’s order
  • Non-payment of child support
  • Any history of domestic violence or relevant criminal history
  • History of denial of parenting time

An additional concern during the pandemic is that some courts have closed. The existing order is effective until a new order is issued.

Contact the Law Office of Charles Tyler

The compassionate legal team at the Law Office of Charles Tyler knows that you are concerned about your children during this confusing time. We are here to address any questions you have about child custody in Ohio or modifying an existing order. Contact us today to schedule a confidential consultation. Call us at 330.665.0910 or visit us at www.tylerlawoffice.com.

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Charles Tyler Sr., Esq. Attorney and Counselor At Law

If you are facing the anxiety of crushing debt, the angst of divorce, or apprehension of criminal charges, you want a knowledgeable, professional attorney by your side.

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