The court takes a role in the allocation of parenting responsibilities and rights in dealing with the needs of a child at the point of a legal separation, divorce or annulment. When plans that are filed by one or both parents are deemed not to be in a child's best interests, the court may designate one of the parents as the residential individual with legal custody. Remaining responsibilities and rights are divided appropriately after this determination.
If a plan offered by parents is deemed to be in a child's best interest, a shared parenting order may be established in regard to various needs of a child. In a shared parenting situation, a court may designate one household as the residential location of the young person for purposes such as eligibility for public assistance. Because the court uses the best interest of a child as a major factor in making decisions, in some cases, a child may be interviewed by the official overseeing a case. In some cases, a court may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the interests of a child. Issues such as a child's reasoning ability may play a role in such decisions.
While it may be tempting for a parent to help a child express wishes or interests, the court does not allow written or recorded statements to be set forth. In some cases, a court may investigate family dynamics and issues to aid in the determination of parenting plans and custody arrangements. Issues such as previous conviction of child neglect could affect the court's decisions.
In preparing for custody actions related to a child, parents may want to work through their attorneys to formulate a mutually acceptable parenting plan. In cases of contention over certain points, however, an attorney may assist in establishing arguments in favor of a client's preferences by demonstrating how the child's best interest will be served as a result.
Source: LAW Writer Ohio Laws and Rules, "3109.04 Allocating parental rights and responsibilities for care of children - shared parenting.", September 28, 2014