As many Ohio residents know, marriage is not a pre-requisite to having children. Many unmarried couples manage to have a family and operate in much the same fashion as a married couple. However, whenever the couple splits, or if no relationship existed at the time the child was born, child custody issues can arise. In these instances, Ohio residents may have many questions, including how child custody will be determined, what their visitation will look like in the event that they are not awarded sole custody and what they can do to increase their chances of receiving custody or visitation.
The first thing to recognize is that, in many cases, child custody cases involving unmarried couples will be treated similarly to those involving married couples. If an agreement can be reached amongst the parties, then it will be binding. However, if an agreement cannot be reached, then the matter will have to be heard by a judge who will make a determination based on the best interests of the child. To make such a determination, a judge may look at several factors, including each parent's financial status, living situation and their history of substance abuse, if any.
In those cases where an agreement cannot be reached, individuals need to be prepared to show why child custody being granted to them, or visitation, would further their child's best interests. Although this often means showing why a mother or father is best suited to care for a child, it might also mean highlighting the other parent's weaknesses.
Before addressing any child custody issues, unmarried individuals may want to get more information about family law arguments that support their position. By doing this, those facing child custody issues can ensure that no stone is left unturned and that they stand the best possible chance, given the circumstances, of acquiring child custody or visitation.
Source: FindLaw, "Custody and Visitation in Non-Divorce Cases," accessed April 9, 2016