Often, child custody issues can be the most difficult and sensitive matters in divorces or other separations. I will work with you to protect your rights and make the divorce as painless as possible.
I can do this in court as an aggressive Cleveland child custody lawyer. But these issues can also be resolved through mediation and other more pleasurable ways. For legal advice and counsel on child custody in Cleveland, call me for my attention.
In this process, rights and responsibilities for the care, custody and nurturing of the children are determined. These child custody responsibilities and children’s rights can be awarded to one parent (sole custody) or to both parents (joint custody).
If both parents are awarded the responsibilities, a shared parenting plan must be drafted and submitted for court approval.
Allocation of parenting rights concerns the best interests of the children.
These cases often times need psychological experts who have examined all of the members of the family. Allocation cases might also involve employment experts to determine a parent’s earnings or earning potential.
By beginning an action involving the “allocation” of parental rights, the parents may be inviting other people such as grandparents (or even non-relatives) to assert their desires to be with the children. These third parties can even get court orders for time with the children depending on the situation.
Many times, in child custody cases, there will be the need to have teachers, physicians, pastors, neighbors, family members and others testify so the court can have an accurate and full “picture” of the children and their parents.
The court may also appoint on its own or at the request of a party appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL) to protect the best interests of the child. Usually a guardian ad litem is an attorney. Sometimes both parties pay for services of the guardian ad litem. Other times, the court may order that only one party shall pay all of the guardian’s fees.
A shared parenting plan is a written document (ideally prepared by both parents together, but can be prepared by one parent) that reflects what the parents believe to be in the best interest of the children with regards to all aspects of their care for the children.
Shared parenting plans must address:
Decisions about school placement, religion, after school activities, health care and other important issues
Decisions about the amount of time each parent will have with the child
Financial responsibility for meeting the needs of the children, including health insurance, uninsured health care costs, tax exemptions, and other such money issues
If a plan can successfully be drafted and approved by the court, then the time, expense and emotional trauma of a child custody trial can be avoided.
Parenting time is the time the child spends with the parent that he or she doesn’t live with most of the time. There is no decision making authority (legal custody) granted with parenting time.
Parenting time is awarded by the court only if the allocation of parenting rights and responsibilities was awarded to a sole parent (sole custody).
This refers to time the child is permitted by the court to spend with an adult who is not his or her parent. This would include grandparents, relatives or another person who wishes to maintain a connection with the child. The court must agree that the relationship should be continued.
If you have remarried and your new spouse wants to adopt your child from a previous marriage, this is possible.
Step-parents often wish to formally adopt their step-children, agreeing to provide for their financial, educational and emotional needs.
In Ohio, a biological parent and a new spouse need to have been married at least one year before they can pursue step-parent adoption.
At the Law Offices of Simon W. Johnson, I can assist with all aspects of this process, ranging from completing initial paperwork to handling any courtroom proceedings.