When divorced or separated parents cannot agree about certain decisions concerning their children, courts will make these determinations instead. Courts rule based on the best interests of a child when hearing custody, visitation, placement and support cases. Some guidelines are the same across the nation for figuring out a child's best interests while some statutes are specific to Ohio.
No child custody hearing is the same because courts must consider the specific circumstances of every case to make a decision that will best serve a child in terms of well-being, care and safety. Ohio statutes list a few considerations that are common like a child's relationship with family members and the need for a permanent and safe environment.
A court considers the history and relationships between a child and parents, siblings, other relatives and foster caregivers and usually tries not to remove a child from a home. Courts also believe that a timely, permanent placement is best for a child mentally and emotionally. Ohio courts will in some cases consider the wishes of a child when making a best interests determination. This only applies when a child is mature enough to give an informed opinion and is not age specific. A guardian ad litem or the child in question are the only ones who can relay a child's opinion to a judge.
Courts usually believe it is in the best interests of the child for both parents to have a relationship with the child. This means that a parent who does not have physical custody might likely still receive visitation rights. Courts also think both parents have responsibility for a child, so even a parent without access to a child could still have to pay child support. An attorney might be of assistance when dealing with custody or support matters.
Source: Child Welfare Information Gateway , "Determining the best interests of the child ", December 17, 2014