Child Custody Laws in Ohio

Mom helping daughter put on shoes

Court systems throughout the country often times have different regulations and standard practices depending on the state. Ohio child custody laws and courts are no exception to this. These laws and practices will directly affect the court’s decisions regarding your child custody case. This makes it incredibly important that you get to know these laws and practices before you enter the courtroom.

Types of custody Ohio child custody laws and courts support

Sole physical custody:
Ohio child custody laws and courts recognize sole physical custody as one co-parent holding the day-to-day care responsibilities for the child. This co-parent is referred to as the custodial parent and the primary residence of the child. The other co-parent is often given visitation rights to the child, which may vary depending on the court’s observations. Only in extreme cases does the other co-parent receive no visitation rights. Unmarried mothers are automatically given sole physical and sole legal custody of their child, unless Ohio child custody laws and courts provide clear evidence not to approve this.

Joint physical custody:
Ohio child custody laws and courts recognize joint physical custody as both co-parents acting as primary caretakers of the child. The child is a resident of both households. The details of this arrangement are determined by the court’s custody order. This time is often not split in half, the percentage of time that each co-parent spends with each co-parent is determined by the court based on their judgment of what is best for the child. In order for joint physical custody to be granted, Ohio child custody laws require that one co-parent submit a shared parenting plan to the court. The court may then review this plan and determine whether or not it is in the best interest of the child. If no parenting plan is submitted, the court will designate one co-parent as the custodial parent.

Legal custody:
The Ohio child custody laws and courts most often prefer to grant joint legal custody to co-parents. Joint legal custody means that both co-parents are actively involved in the decision-making process for the child, such as for educational, health, and religious decisions. Joint legal custody is seen as being in the best interest of the child since both co-parents are actively involved in parenting the child. Sole legal custody is typically only used in extreme cases and is not preferred by the courts.

The Ohio child custody laws and courts are much like any other state when determining what the best interests of the child are. The following are a few of these factors that the courts look at in determining the best interests of the child.

  • The child’s preferences between co-parents. This is only taken into account if the courts see the child as being of a certain age and displaying a certain level of maturity.
  • The observations of the personal relationships between the child and each co-parent.
  • The child’s current school and personal situation, meaning how well the child would be able to adapt to a change in location.
  • The mental and physical health of each co-parent and their abilities to care for a child.
  • The court will take into account any criminal record or offense committed by either co-parent.

Once the Ohio child custody laws and courts have appointed a final custody and visitation agreement there are many tools available for you to use to help you honor your agreement. These tools can help you to create an organized parenting plan calendar to keep you on track and help you communicate with your co-parent. Conflict management between your co-parent and yourself is often a struggle after a recent divorce. The Our Family Wizard website® aims to greatly reduce this conflict, providing a safe and healthy environment for your children. After consulting an attorney about Ohio child custody laws, the next step is to determine your rights and responsibilities as a co-parent after finalizing your custody agreement.


NOTE: Many state and federal laws use terms like ‘custody’ when referring to arrangements regarding parenting time and decision-making for a child. While this has been the case for many years, these are not the only terms currently used to refer to these topics.

Today, many family law practitioners and even laws within certain states use terms such as ‘parenting arrangements’ or ‘parenting responsibility,’ among others, when referring to matters surrounding legal and physical child custody. You will find these terms as well as custody used on the OurFamilyWizard website.