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Ohio Child Custody Part 4

This is Part 4 of a Columbus Ohio Child Custody Lawyer series on the Ohio Child Custody Process. DISCLAIMER

To view the other installments in the series click the links below:    

4.  Contested Custody


The Complaint to get court ordered shared parenting, visitation or custody must be filed in the State which has jurisdiction over the custody of the Child. Most U.S. states follow the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act, or the UCCJEA.  The UCCJEA replaced the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) in most jurisdictions, including Ohio, in order to conform state law with a federal law, the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act, or the PKPA.

To learn more about the UCCJEA and interstate child custody jurisdiction, please see the following articles on our web site:


In addition, to being filed in the State that has the proper jurisdiction, the Complaint must be filed in the County which has the proper venue.  In Ohio, venue in custody cases is governed by the Rules of Civil Procedure.  You can look at the Rules of Civil Procedure by clicking here.


The custody process starts by filing a Complaint, along with various other pleadings and forms, depending upon your situation and the County you live in.  Custody matters for parents who were not married are usually filed in Juvenile Court, and custody matters for married parents are settled as part of their divorce, dissolution or legal separation, are usually filed in Domestic Relations Court.  For more information on whether your case would be filed in Juvenile Court or Domestic Relations Court, see the following statute from the Ohio Revised Code.


In order to avoid the child being turned into a wishbone while the case is pending, the Law provides that the Court can make temporary orders to decide, at a minimum, the following issues:

  • Which parent (or both) will be residential parent while the divorce is pending
  • Parenting time
  • Child support
  • Health insurance for the child
  • Which parent (or both) will pay medical expenses of the child which are not covered by insurance while the case is pending

To learn more about temporary orders and modification of temporary orders, see the following posts and information:


In order to prepare your case for trial, each side in the case is allowed to do discovery.  Discovery is a process by which each of the parties find information about the other’s side’s case in order to determine whether the case should settle or go to trial.  In Ohio, discovery in custody cases can be:

  • Request for Production of Documents
  • Interrogatories
  • Depositions
  • Request for Admissions
  • Subpoenas
  • Physical Examinations
  • Psychological Evaluations Discovery is governed by the Rules of Civil Procedure (Domestic Relations Cases) and the Rules of Juvenile Procedure (Juvenile Court cases), and by the Local Rules of Court for the Court your case is in.


Upon the motion of either party, or on the Court’s own motion, the Court can appoint a Guardian Ad Litem.  The term Guardian Ad Litem is Latin and means, “guardian during litigation”.

In Ohio, guardian ad litems (or guardians ad litem) are usually attorneys (but not always).  Some guardian ad litems are appointed BOTH as a guardian of the best interest of the Child AND as an attorney for the wishes of the Child.  This is done more often in Juvenile Court than in Domestic Relations Court.  Other Ohio guardian ad litems are appointed ONLY to represent the best interest of the Child, not the wishes of the child.  For more information about the responsibilities and obligations of a Guardian Ad Litem in Ohio, see the articles linked below.


In Ohio, the Best Interest of the Child is a legal standard, set by statute in Ohio Revised Code 3109.04.

To learn more information about how the Court determines the best interest of the Child when deciding custody and shared parenting cases, see the following article from our web site:

To learn more information about additional considerations the Court must make when determining whether shared parenting is in the best interest of the Child, see the following article from our web site:


For information about shared parenting in Ohio, see the following pages of our web site:


  1. M says

    I just went to my first defat hearing on sept 1st. Boy was I unprepared for the magistrates decision! My daughter is 4 mths old. Her father and I broke up before I even knew I was pregnant. Father has spent 1 hour a week with her…he requested shared parenting and overnights to start right away. This child breast feeds frequently…I suggested longer visits so she can get to know him but it was declined. I’m beside myself worrying about this temporary order, shared parenting was put on hold……my lawyer said she didn’t want to overwhelm me…,I do believe it’s because she cut off our questions to rush out for another client….Is giving overnights at this early of an age in the best interest of a CHT if she doesn’t know him at all?

  2. S says

    What about shared parenting in-which the residential/custodial parent violated the agreement by being arrested again for a habitual crime?

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