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Ohio LGBT Shared Custody Agreements: Get it in Writing!

GAY CUSTODY LAWYER, SHARED CUSTODY AGREEMENT, CO-CUSTODY AGREEMENT, LAWYER, ATTORNEY, LGBT LAWYER, COLUMBUS OHIO LGBT LAWYER, COLUMBUS OHIO LGBT ATTORNEY, LGBT CUSTODY LAWYER, LGBT ADOPTION LAWYER, GAY ADOPTION LAWYERVirginia Cornwell is an Ohio State Bar Association Certified Family Relations Specialist Attorney who works with the LGBT community. 

Many Ohio LGBT partners co-parent but do not take the extra step of putting their shared custody (similar to joint custody or shared parenting) arrangement in writing.  Others put their shared custody arrangement in writing, (known as Bonfield agreements) but do not put it in writing in a way that indicates a clear relinquishment of sole custody in favor of shared custody (for example a power of attorney or a will rather than a shared custody agreement).

Mistakes like this can be tragic for the non-biological parent (or non-legal parent) if the couple breaks up.  Wills and powers of attorneys are revocable.  Shared custody agreements (the ones that have any legal authority) must be approved by the juvenile court.  An example of how things can go devastatingly wrong without a shared custody agreement is the Mullen case.

In the Ohio Supreme Court Case In Re Mullen, 129 Ohio St.3d 417, 2011-Ohio-3361, while together, the parties had taken numerous steps to show their commitment to co-parenting.  They had planned the pregnancy together, were together at the birth, made a ceremonial birth certificate with both parties’ names, and shared parenting responsibilities. The biological mother also prepared a will naming the other mother as custodian if she should pass away, and the biological mother gave her partner a power of attorney.  However, when the parties separated, according to Mullen, the will and the power of attorney were revoked and the parties found themselves in litigation over whether they would continue to co-parent the child.

In this case, the Ohio Supreme Court upheld the findings of the lower courts which did not require the biological mother to continue to co-parent with her former partner.  The Court noted that while the biological mother had the opportunity to permanently surrender her sole custody in favor of shared custody, she did not do it. The court did not go so far as to say that they would always require a “Bonfield” agreement, but if the court did not grant any custodial rights under these circumstances, it is wise to interpret this case as a cautionary tale and put these important issues in writing, and have them approved by the juvenile court.

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GAY DIVORCE LAWYER, SAME SEX DIVORCE LAWYERS IN COLUMBUS OHIO, GAY FAMILY LAWYER,  LGBT FAMILY ATTORNEYS IN, A FAMILY LAWYER, FAMILY LAW LAWYERS, FAMILY LAWYERS, OHIO DIVORCE LAWYER, FAMILY LAW ATTORNEYS, attorney ohio family law, columbus attorneys, columbus lawyers, columbus lawyer, columbus attorney, ohio divorce attorney, lawyer in columbus ohio, lawyer columbus ohio, columbus ohio lawyer, columbus ohio attorneys, attorney at law ohio, divorce lawyer columbus, divorce attorney columbus, ohio divorce lawyers, ohio divorce lawyer, ohio divorce attorney, ohio LGBT divorce attorneys, columbus LGBT divorce attorneyDo you want to talk to an attorney about a shared custody agreement?  Our attorneys are here to help you!  It all starts with a phone call.

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Dirty Ohio Custody Case Tricks to Watch Out For Part 1, by a Columbus Ohio Child Custody Lawyer

OHIO CUSTODY LAWYER, COLUMBUS OHIO CUSTODY LAWYER, CHILD CUSTODY LAWYERS IN OHIO, OHIO CHILD CUSTODY LAWYER, OHIO CUSTODY ATTORNEY, OHIO CHILD CUSTODY ATTORNEY, OHIO CUSTODY LAWYERS, OHIO CHILD CUSTODY LAWYERS Virginia Cornwell is an Ohio Custody Lawyer and Ohio Custody Attorney.  She is an Ohio State Bar Association Certified Family Relations Specialist, one of approximately 100 attorneys in Ohio to have received this honor.  
Our Ohio Custody Lawyers know that in custody litigation, people do not always play nice.  In fact, most of the time they will do nearly anything to win.  Unfortunately, the conflict can sometimes become more about “winning” over the other parent than what is in the best interest of the child.  This article is about some of the unfortunate, tactics (both directly aggressive and passive aggressive) that we see in Ohio custody cases.

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OHIO CUSTODY LAWYER, OHIO CUSTODY LAWYERS, OHIO CUSTODY ATTORNEY, OHIO CUSTODY ATTORNEYSDIRTY TRICK NO. 1: AVOIDING SERVICE.  People will go to great lengths to delay the inevitable, and step number one is avoiding service.  This can be especially devastating if you are trying to serve a restraining order on the party to prevent them from moving your child out of the state.  An experienced Ohio Custody Lawyer  will know the “tricks of the trade”, so to speak, and will be able to help you serve those papers on the opposing party and get your case rolling.

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OHIO CUSTODY LAWYER, OHIO CUSTODY LAWYERS, OHIO CUSTODY ATTORNEY, OHIO CUSTODY ATTORNEYS, OHIO CHILD CUSTODY LAWYER, OHIO CHILD CUSTODY LAWYERSDIRTY TRICK NO. 2: SHOWING UP AT THE FIRST HEARING AND ASKING FOR A CONTINUANCE TO GET AN ATTORNEY, EVEN THOUGH THEY HAVE ALREADY HAD WEEKS OR MONTHS TO DO SO.  The person who currently has the most legal rights over the child is not anxious for that to change, and is motivated to delay the proceedings.  This is one of the most common ways that they accomplish this.   An experienced Ohio Custody Lawyer can help you keep the opposing party from abusing this trick, although they may receive one continuance to obtain an attorney.

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OHIO CUSTODY LAWYER, OHIO CUSTODY LAWYERS, OHIO CUSTODY ATTORNEY, OHIO CUSTODY ATTORNEYS, OHIO CHILD CUSTODY LAWYER, OHIO CHILD CUSTODY LAWYERS, OHIO CHILD CUSTODY LAWYERDIRTY TRICK NO. 3: FAILING TO PAY THE GUARDIAN AD LITEM, IN ORDER TO KEEP THE GAL FROM DOING THEIR JOB.  When a GAL begins their investigation, this represents the possibility of change.  For the party who does not want anything to change, this is a threat.  The GAL does not start work until they have been paid the fee, which is usually split in some fashion between the parties pursuant to the court’s order.  The party who sees the GAL as a threat sometimes delays or refuses to pay the GAL’s fee, with the result being the GAL does not begin work, and the process is delayed.  An experienced Ohio Custody Lawyer can advise you regarding how to deal with this problem and make sure the GAL starts work despite the other party’s resistance.

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OHIO CUSTODY LAWYER, OHIO CUSTODY LAWYER, OHIO CUSTODY ATTORNEY, OHIO CUSTODY ATTORNEY, OHIO CHILD CUSTODY ATTORNEY, OHIO CHILD CUSTODY LAWYER, OHIO CHILD CUSTODY ATTORNEYS, OHIO CHILD CUSTODY LAWYERSDIRTY TRICK NO. 4: THREATENING THE CHILDREN.   This dirty trick is especially loathsome.  Most people do not threaten the children physically (although some do, unfortunately).  This is usually more of a psychological threat to the children, such as “if the court gives Daddy what he wants you won’t ever see Mommy again (or your dog, or your sister, etc.).  It is a terrible thing to do, for any reason, but unfortunately it happens all too often.  The threat is designed to sway what the children will say to the Guardian ad Litem or the Magistrate.  If this happens to you, your Ohio Custody Lawyer will know what to do, and you should tell them immediately.

 

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OHIO CUSTODY LAWYER, OHIO CUSTODY LAWYERS, OHIO CUSTODY ATTORNEY, OHIO CUSTODY ATTORNEYS, OHIO CHILD CUSTODY LAWYER, OHIO CHILD CUSTODY LAWYERSDIRTY TRICK NO. 5: HOPSCOTCH COUNSELLING.  Sometimes people put their child in counseling right around the time of litigation, in order to (hopefully) solicit some information from the child during counseling that will help their case.  This tactic is suspect if the need for counseling arose right around the time the litigation was initiated.  Then once the child has made a statement which the parent believes is detrimental to the other parent, the other parent is invited to attend counseling.  After that, with very little contact with parent B, and getting most of their information from Parent A, the parent who initiated counseling and has a litigation agenda, the counselor makes statements to the guardian ad litem, which the guardian ad litem almost always follows because the counselor is an “expert”.  Although counselors are not supposed to make recommendations regarding custody, as a treater, all to many of them do not know this, and will produce a letter supporting the agenda of the parent who sought them out and gave them most of their information (and is also pressuring the child).  Even more suspect is when the counselor is someone that the lawyer recommended.  Even more suspect than that is when Parent A did not get the desired result from the first counselor, so they move on to counselor B.

In this situation, it may be toxic for Parent B to become involved with the counselor at all.  Before having any contact with the counselor, Parent B should speak to his or her experienced Ohio Custody Lawyer and carefully plan his or her response to the situation.

 

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OHIO CUSTODY LAWYER, OHIO CUSTODY LAWYERS, OHIO CUSTODY ATTORNEY, OHIO CUSTODY ATTORNEYS, OHIO CHILD CUSTODY LAWYER, OHIO CHILD CUSTODY ATTORNEYNeed some help? We would be happy to schedule a consultation with you.  Please give us a call, and one of our Ohio Child Custody Lawyers will meet with you to discuss your case.

OHIO CUSTODY LAWYER, OHIO CUSTODY ATTORNEY, OHIO CUSTODY LAWYERS, OHIO CUSTODY ATTORNEYS, OHIO CHILD CUSTODY LAWYER

 

 

Virginia Cornwell is an Ohio State Bar Association Certified Family Relations Specialist.

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“How Do I Get Custody Back?” by an Ohio Child Custody Lawyer

Columbus Child Custody Lawyer, Lawyers Child Custody, Child Custody Lawyers Columbus, Columbus Custody Attorney, Columbus Custody Attorneys, Columbus Custody LawyerVirginia Cornwell is a Custody Lawyer in Columbus, Ohio.  She is also an OSBA Certified Family Relations (Family Law) Specialist.

This is a question that we hear a lot.  The circumstances that led to the question are widely varied, and because of that, so is the answer.   The one common denominator though, is if you really did lose custody in Ohio, then you need to start with a change of circumstances if you want to get it back.

ohio child custody lawyer, columbus ohio child custody lawyer, lawyers child custody, lawyer child custody, attorney child custody, attorneys child custody, lawyer for custody, child custody lawyer inAt this point, people often ask “What is a change in circumstances?”  But before you answer that question, you must determine the answer to this question:  Whose circumstances must be changed?

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Lawyer Child Custody, Lawyers Child Custody, Attorney Child Custody, Attorneys Child Custody, Attorney Custody, Attorneys CustodyIn a sole custody situation, there must be a change in circumstances of the residential parent, or the circumstances of the child.  When one parent has sole custody (residential parent and legal custodian), the circumstances of the non-residential parent are not considered when the court determines whether there has been a change of circumstances.  In Ohio, if a person gives up custody, or loses it, they need to understand that the court is not even going to consider giving custody back to them unless there has been a change in the circumstances of the child or residential parent (or the non-parent to whom custody was given).

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In Ohio, when the parents have shared parenting, in order for there to be a change in custody there must be a change of circumstances of the child or either of the parents.

Ohio Child custody attorney, columbus ohio child custody attorney, columbus ohio child custody lawyer, columbus custody lawyerWhat constitutes a change of circumstances is a complicated matter, a creature of case law, and too big a topic for this blog post (but stay tuned for future posts…).   For purposes of this blog post, assume that you have a change of circumstances.  Yay!  Now what?

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Ohio Revised Code 3109.04 talks about the next thing the court must consider before it decides whether to change custody:

(E)(1)

(a) The court shall not modify a prior decree allocating parental rights and responsibilities for the care of children unless it finds, based on facts that have arisen since the prior decree or that were unknown to the court at the time of the prior decree, that a change has occurred in the circumstances of the child, the child’s residential parent, or either of the parents subject to a shared parenting decree, and that the modification is necessary to serve the best interest of the child. In applying these standards, the court shall retain the residential parent designated by the prior decree or the prior shared parenting decree, unless a modification is in the best interest of the child and one of the following applies:

(i) The residential parent agrees to a change in the residential parent or both parents under a shared parenting decree agree to a change in the designation of residential parent.

(ii) The child, with the consent of the residential parent or of both parents under a shared parenting decree, has been integrated into the family of the person seeking to become the residential parent.

(iii) The harm likely to be caused by a change of environment is outweighed by the advantages of the change of environment to the child.

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COLUMBUS CUSTODY LAWYER, custody lawyer, custody attorney, custody lawyers, custody attorneys, columbus custody lawyersNext step on the road to custody: Best Interest of the Child.   Although this sounds like a generic phrase, there are actually very specific criteria Ohio courts consider when determining the best interest of the child.  Those criteria are in Ohio Revised Code 3109.04(F).  You can read a simpler version of the criteria by clicking here: Best Interest of the Child.

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At this point, for your custody case to have a chance, you would have to

  1. Have a change of circumstance, and it has to be in the circumstances of the appropriate person (s);
  2. The court would have to find that it is in the best interest of the child for custody to be changed.

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custody lawyer in, custody lawyers in, custody attorney in, custody attorneys in, find a custody lawyer, find a child custody lawyerIt would seem like you are in the home stretch, right?  Not yet.  Even if you are ahead of the game so far, before the court can change custody, the court would have to find that:

(i) The residential parent agrees to a change in the residential parent or both parents under a shared parenting decree agree to a change in the designation of residential parent.

(ii) The child, with the consent of the residential parent or of both parents under a shared parenting decree, has been integrated into the family of the person seeking to become the residential parent.

(iii) The harm likely to be caused by a change of environment is outweighed by the advantages of the change of environment to the child.

The third criteria (advantages of the change outweigh the harm) is by far the criteria courts most often rely upon if they are going to change custody.

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Best Family Law Attorney in Ohio, best columbus custody lawyer, columbus child custody lawyer, best ohio custody attorney, child custody lawyers columbusIn summary, the steps that must be overcome are:

1.  change of circumstances, in the right person; and

2.  the custody modification is in the best interest of the child; and

3.  One of the following must be true:

(i) The residential parent agrees to a change in the residential parent or both parents under a shared parenting decree agree to a change in the designation of residential parent.

(ii) The child, with the consent of the residential parent or of both parents under a shared parenting decree, has been integrated into the family of the person seeking to become the residential parent.

(iii) The harm likely to be caused by a change of environment is outweighed by the advantages of the change of environment to the child.

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All of the standards you have read about in this article have well developed case law where courts have decided what does and does not meet the standard, but the cases are constantly changing, moving in different directions.  To find out if the facts of YOUR case would meet the standards necessary to change custody, you are probably going to need to talk to an Ohio Custody Lawyer.  There are simply too many variables to cover this topic in a one size fits all blog post.

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Ohio Father's Rights Lawyer, Ohio Father's Rights Attorney, Columbus Father's Rights Attorney, Columbus Father's Rights Lawyer, Columbus Father's Rights LawyersNeed some help? We would be happy to schedule a consultation with you.  Please give us a call, and one of our Ohio Child Custody Lawyers will meet with you to discuss your case.

Columbus Father's Rights Attorney, Columbus Father's Rights Lawyer, Columbus Father's Rights Lawyers, Columbus Father's Rights Lawyers

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When a single mother passes away in Ohio, paternity, custody and visitation issues may need to be resolved.

Lawyers Child Custody, Columbus Lawyers Child Custody, Ohio Lawyers Child Custody, Child Custody Lawyers, Child Custody Attorneys, Child Custody Attorney, Child Custody LawyerVirginia Cornwell is a OSBA Certified Family Relations Specialist, and practices exclusively Family Law.

In Ohio, if a single mother dies, issues will arise regarding who is going to raise her children and who may have visitation with the children.

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In this situation, if the father wanted to obtain custody of his children, he would need to establish paternity, if it was not already done.  He would need to file his complaint to establish a parent-child relationship (establish paternity), as well as his complaint to allocate parental rights and responsibilities (get custody).  Once paternity is established (see our other articles), the court can make orders regarding custody.  Given that the mother has passed away, a court may be willing to hear an emergency custody motion.

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grandparents rights attorney in, grandparents lawyer, grandparents attorney, grandparents visitation lawyer, grandparents visitation lawyers, grandparent visitation lawyerSometimes, in the situation of a single mother, grandparents may have been very active in the child’s life, perhaps more so (in their opinion) than the father.  In this situation the grandparents sometimes feel entitled to custody of the child, especially if the mother made her wishes clear on the matter before she passed away.  However, Ohio law is clear.  The rights of the father in this situation supersede those of the grandparents, unless the grandparents can demonstrate that the father is unfit.  For more information about the legal standards for a court to find a parent unfit, click HERE.

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grandparents custody lawyer, grandparents custody lawyers, grandparents custody attorney, grandparents custody attorneysIn the case of terminal illness, the mother may know in advance that she is going to pass away.  She may have executed a will that says who she wants to be the custodian of her child.  This statement in her will is only a statement of her preference, it does not transfer custody of the child upon her death.  Despite the mother’s statement in her will, the father’s rights trump those of the grandparents.  Unless the father is an unfit parent, if he seeks custody of his children, he will get it.

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ohio grandparents rights attorney, ohio grandparents rights attorneys, ohio grandparent rights lawyer, ohio grandparents rights lawyersThis does not mean that grandparents cannot seek visitation.  For more information on grandparent visitation, read one or more of our many articles about grandparent rights by clicking the category in the left black column, and then select an article.  You may also select the topic in the right hand black column.

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Ohio Father's Rights Lawyer, Ohio Father's Rights Attorney, Columbus Father's Rights Attorney, Columbus Father's Rights Lawyer, Columbus Father's Rights LawyersNeed some help? We would be happy to schedule a consultation with you.  Please give us a call, and one of our Ohio Child Custody Lawyers will meet with you to discuss your case.

Columbus Father's Rights Attorney, Columbus Father's Rights Lawyer, Columbus Father's Rights Lawyers, Columbus Father's Rights Lawyers

 

 

Virginia Cornwell is an Ohio State Bar Association Certified Family Relations Specialist.

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Ohio Custody Agreements Are Not Legal if They Do Not Go Through the Courts

LAWYERS CHILD CUSTODY, FAMILY LAWYER, OHIO FAMILY LAWYER, OHIO FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY, FAMILY LAW ATTORNEYOften unmarried parent callers tell us that they have shared parenting, or that they have a custody agreement, only to find out that this agreement is an understanding between the parents, but not something that is legal in any way.  Things that are commonly misunderstood are:

  • Paying child support does not give legal custody or visitation rights
  • The local visitation schedule in the county is not something that a parent automatically has with his or her child

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  • A written agreement between the parents does not make it legal, that agreement is only as good as long as the parties agree, and disappears into nothing once they stop agreeing.
  • Notarizing a written agreement does not make it legally binding, it just guarantees the identity of the people who signed the document.

If you would like to know where you stand with regard to your parental rights, you can talk to the Ohio Family Law Attorney of your choice.  Our office has several Columbus Ohio Family Lawyers who are waiting to help you with your family law issues.

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FAMILY LAWYER, COLUMBUS FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY, COLUMBUS CUSTODY LAWYER, LAWYERS CHILD CUSTODY, COLUMBUS CHILD CUSTODY LAWYERVirginia Cornwell is an Ohio State Bar Association Certified Family Relations Specialist.

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