Few things get lawmakers and those trying to influence them more riled up than issues involving children. That seems to be the case here in Ohio as state lawmakers consider legislation that would make the assumption that parents who split up should share custody of their children equally.
Currently, all parents can seek a 50-50 custody agreement. However, according to the legislators supporting the bill, an assumption that 50-50 custody is typically best is only used in five counties throughout the state. In the others, the assumption is that one person should be named the custodial parent.
What is the argument against the legislation?
Those against the legislation argue that it will make it more difficult to protect parents and children who are domestic violence victims. They say it would require victims to have legal proof that a parent is abusive or mentally ill.
The state representative who’s sponsoring the bill says it simply creates “an official state policy that ensures children have a continued and meaningful relationship with both parents and to the greatest extent possible, that parents share equally in time and responsibility.”
Advocates say the current law needs to be updated
The head of one Ohio parenting organization says that the state’s current law is out of date. She also notes that “there is little guidance for courts on how to handle parenting time,” so it’s often up to a judge to decide what they believe is best for the child.
“Traditional” views of parenting die hard. One retired Ohio Supreme Court justice who weighed in on the legislation said that “the premise that everything has to be 50/50…[is] just unnatural.”
It’s often best when parents don’t have to ask a judge to decide
Generally, the best-case scenario for everyone involved – especially the child – is when parents can work out custody issues together rather than relying on a judge to decide. It’s still crucial to understand how state law and any laws specific to your area guide judges as they make decisions around custody (and other matters around your divorce).
If you have experienced legal guidance, you may have the advantage of insight into how a particular judge tends to view and rule on these matters. It can also help you better work towards what’s right for your child.