“Custody” refers loosely to the arrangement for the physical and legal possession of the child(ren). It takes two main shapes:

  • Sole residential custody
  • Shared parenting

There is a misconception that sole residential custody and shared parenting designate the amount of time spent with child(ren) by each parent. This is incorrect. What the two ideas do is define the legal rights of each parent as it pertains to the children. The amount of time under either concept can be as agreed between the parties as they so desire, or ordered by the court as it deems appropriate and in the best interest of child(dren). There are no hard and fast “rules” as to how much time each parent may have with the child(dren). A brief description of both is outline below.

Sole Residential Custody

One parent receives the parental rights and responsibilities for the care and custody of the child. This parent is designated the residential and custodial parent of the child. It gives to that parent the primary right to make educational, medical, and religious decisions for the child. The other parent, deemed the “non-custodial parent” will likely be responsible for providing financial support for the child, (“child support”, determined by several factors in the Ohio Revised Code), and is entitled to a set amount of “parenting time” with the child, (the amount of which is determined on a case-by-case basis), which is not to be interfered with by the custodial parent.

Shared Parenting

Both parents share in the parental rights and responsibilities of the child, or, put another way, both are entitled to decision-making authority over important aspects of the child’s life. A shared parenting arrangement usually requires that the parents have an amicably-working relationship that facilitates cooperation for the child. Again, each parent is entitled to parenting time that is decided on a case-by case basis, either by agreement or court order. Note, another misconception is that shared parenting alleviates the requirement of child support. This is not so. Child support under a shared parenting plan is still ordered pursuant to statutory guidelines, unless otherwise agreed. One parent in a shared parenting plan must be designated as “residential parent” for school purposes.

Child custody issues arise in a few main ways. Either a marriage is in the throes of divorce which necessitates allocation of parental rights and responsibilities of the child(dren) between the parties; an unwed couple who have a child(ren) separate and cannot agree on custody arrangements which necessitates a determination from the Court; or, a third party, whether it be a relative or Children’s Services seeks to take custody of the child(ren) based on an allegation that the parent(s) is unfit or unable to appropriately care for the child(ren).

If the custody dispute is precipitated by divorce, the Court is required to treat each parent equally in their arguments for what is in the best interest of the child. In other words, there is no “advantage” to the mother solely because she is the mother, contrary to popular misconceptions.

If the custody dispute involves unwed parents, the mother is considered the “sole and residential custodian” of the child(ren) unless and until the father establishes paternity. Once the father is established as the “legal” father through establishment of paternity, the law requires the court to treat both the mother and father on “equal footing” in a custody dispute.

The aforementioned should be qualified with the fact that all Ohio Courts are bound to make these determinations based on what is in the “Best Interests” of the child(ren). The “bests interests” of a child is a very fact-sensitive issue and varies greatly from case to case. The court will consider testimony and other evidence by both parties in determining allocating parental rights and responsibilities. Note that custody orders, while designed to be permanent in nature, can always be changed or modified if there is a requisite showing a “change in circumstances” necessitating a change or modification to ensure the best interests of the child(ren).

Contact Cavinder Law Office and custody attorney Jason Cavinder now if you or a loved one is facing a custody issue; we can help guide you through the legal and personal hurdles that accompany such litigation, and prepare your case so that you have the best chance at receiving a favorable outcome. The consultation is free and confidential. Or, if you simply have questions pertaining to the area of child custody, our office is ready to help. We can be reached by telephone at (937) 751-4949, or by email at

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