Ohio Shared Parenting Plans

In any divorce or dissolution of marriage where the parties have minor children together, then the divorcing couple will be required to enter into a parenting plan for the minor children.  A "shared" parenting plan is where the parents share parenting responsibilities in some way.  In Ohio, a shared parenting plan controls all of the following things:

(1) which parent is considered the residential parent for the child or children;
(2) which parent is the "residential parent for school placement purposes," which only matters for determining which school district the child/children go to school in; 
(3) the visitation and holiday schedule for the non-residential parent; 
(4) legal custody rights for each parent (legal decision making power);
(5) child support payments for the non-residential parent; and
(6) numerous other aspects of the financial obligations of raising a child, among other things.

Do I Need An Attorney For a Shared Parenting Plan?

The short answer is that it would be better to have an attorney to draft or negotiate the terms of your shared parenting plan, but in Ohio there is no legal requirement to actually have an attorney.  Accordingly, you are always free to represent yourself ("pro se" representation), but the quality and favorability of your ultimate agreement will certainly be impacted by whether or not you have an attorney on your side.  

A shared parenting plan can be customized to the parents unique desires, but the shared parenting plan is usually somewhat of a negotiated compromise among the parents and their attorneys.  

Legal Requirements of a Shared Parenting Plan

Whenever two parties are seeking a divorce or dissolution and there are minor children that were born of the marriage, the Court is required to allocate the parental rights and responsibilities for the care of the minor children of the marriage pursuant to Ohio Revised Code section 3109.04.  In all cases, before finalizing the shared parenting plan, the Court will make sure that in its' judgment, the plan is in the best interests of the children.  The plan itself is created in one of three possible ways:

(1) the Court allocates all parental rights and responsibilties on its own as the Judge determines to be in the best interests of the children;
(2) if only one parent has filed a proposed parenting plan, then the Judge will check to see if the plan is in the best interests of the minor children and either approve or modify the plan as necessary; or
(3) the Court will review a jointly proposed shared parenting plan (agreed to and proposed by both parents) and make sure that the plan is in the best interests of the children and discuss any potential deficiencies with the parties and possibly request or suggest any modifications necessary to get the plan to be in the best interests of the minor children.  

Generally, option number three is always the best option.  Usually each parent's attorney will negotiate with the other parent's attorney in order to accomplish their client's goals  and get the shared parenting plan drafted in a way as to meet all legal obligations and get approved by the court. If you would like an attorney to help you with your shared parenting plan issues, or any family law related issue, then please feel free to call an attorney at Harris & Engler at (614) 610-9988 in order to discuss your case.  The attorneys at Harris & Engler have offices located in Columbus, Ohio, but its attorneys help clients throughout Central Ohio, including all of Franklin County, Delaware County, Union County, and more.  
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