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The Basics: Shared Parenting vs. Sole Custody


In Ohio, there are two types of custody/parenting arrangements: shared parenting and sole custody.

In a shared parenting arrangement, commonly referred to as "joint custody," both parents are designated as legal custodians and residential parents of the minor child. One parent is then usually designated the residential parent for school placement purposes only, which is the parent who resides in the school district the child(ren) will attend.

One of the biggest misconceptions about having a shared parenting arrangement is that people often think shared parenting means that both parents have equal parenting time. However, shared parenting does not necessarily mean a 50/50 split in visitation; It just simply means that both parties should have the ability to communicate with each other and to make joint decisions regarding the care of the minor child(ren), including decisions regarding the child(ren)'s health/medical, education, extracurricular activities, discipline, etc.

For a sole custody arrangement, only one parent is designated the legal custodian and residential parent of the minor child(ren). That parent is solely responsible for the decisions regarding the care of the minor child(ren). The other parent would likely be granted visitation with the minor child(ren), which would be determined by the Court or by agreement of the parents.

Most Courts in Ohio favor shared parenting over sole custody because it gives both parents an opportunity to have input and involvement regarding the care of their child(ren). In some situations, however, shared parenting is not always in the best interest of the minor child(ren) and it is necessary for only one parent to be granted sole custody.

If the parents cannot reach an agreement with regard to the care and custody of their minor child(ren), the Court will look at a number of factors when determining whether shared parenting or sole custody with visitation is the minor child(ren)'s best interest. See Ohio Revised Code §3109.04 for a list of the factors and for more details regarding shared parenting.

Understanding the difference between shared parenting and sole custody is important to your case. It is imperative that you contact an attorney immediately with any questions regarding shared parenting vs. sole custody.

Attorney Megan M. Beyland represents the unique cases of The Law Offices of Saia & Piatt, Inc.'s family law clients. She handles all types of divorce, custody, child support, parentage, and post-decree matters.

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