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Easter is not included in some Ohio visitation schedules

EASTER HAPPY EASTERVirginia Cornwell is a Columbus Family Lawyer, Family Law Attorney, and an Ohio State Bar Association Family Relations Specialist.

Easter is a day that is important in the parenting schedules of many Ohioans.  However, because it is a day of religious meaning, and not all parents celebrate the same religious holidays, many Ohio visitation schedules do not include Easter as part of the standard parenting time schedule.

To further complicate the matter, Easter often, but not always,  falls during Spring Break.  Unless otherwise specified in your court orders, if Easter falls during Spring Break, the parent who gets Spring Break will also get Easter.  In some long distance parenting plans, the same parent gets Spring Break every year.  Depending on the school schedule in your district, this may mean that the same parent gets Easter every year.

Easter is one of those holidays that must be specifically addressed in parenting plans if it is a day of special meaning to one or both parents, otherwise, the result is likely to be a lot of conflict.  In this case, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so either negotiate with the other parent to have Easter properly addressed in your parenting orders, or ask the Court for the orders you want regarding Easter.  Otherwise, you may end up missing this holiday every year!

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What do you do if your ex is constantly late exchanging the children?

visitation attorney, visitation lawyer, father lawyer, father attorney, fathers lawyer, fathers attorneyVirginia Cornwell is a Franklin County Visitation Lawyer, Family Law Attorney, and an Ohio State Bar Association Family Relations Specialist.  

Is your ex late to exchange the children most of the time?  If so, the important questions are 1) How late are they?  2) How late does your court papers allow them to be? and 3) What are you going to do about it?

First, what does your court order say about how late they can be before your ex loses their parenting time?  The specific terms of your order always trump contradictory language in the local rule.

In Ohio, each county has a local visitation schedule, sometimes several local visitation schedules (one for juvenile court, one for domestic court, and in at least one county, one for each magistrate).  Most of the time, at least part of this local rule is incorporated into your court order.  So the first step would be to read your court orders and see if the court order incorporated the local rule.

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mother lawyer, mother's lawyer, custody lawyer, child custody lawyer, lawyer visitation,If the answer is yes, then you must look to see if ALL of the local rule is incorporated into your court order, or just part of it.  Most local rules contain a provision, at least in the section for parents who are NOT long distance parents, about how long you have to wait for you ex to show up before they lose their parenting time.  Has that provision been made part of your court order?

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post decree lawyer, post-decree lawyer, change custody lawyer, change visitation lawyer, post-decree attorney, post-decree attorneysIn some contentious cases, one of the parents will abuse the “waiting period” and use it to make their ex wait, to create annoyance, or to take extra parenting time that they are not entitled to.  If this becomes a pattern, keep track of all the time you had to wait so that you can show it to the court.  The court has many remedies they can offer.  They can take away the wait period entirely if they think it has been abused.  They can make the other parent give make up time.  They can find the other parent in contempt of court, fine them, sentence them to jail time (subject to purging their contempt), and make them pay reasonable attorney fees and expenses.  If they find that one parent has continuously and willfully denied the other parent their parenting time by abusing this wait period, it is a factor the court can consider when deciding whether to terminate shared parenting or adjust parenting time.  The court can also adjust transportation responsibilities.

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If you have no provision at all regarding how long you have to wait before your ex loses their parenting time, and they are constantly late for pick-ups and drop-offs, maybe it is time for you to look at going back to court to get some additional language added to your orders to address some of the bad behavior that is going on.  If you have no court orders at all, and your former agreements are no longer working, despite your best efforts to work it out with your ex, then maybe you need a court order and not an agreement regarding when your child will be exchanged with the other parent.

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father lawyer, father lawyers, father attorney, father attorneys, father's attorney, father's lawyer, lawyer for fathers, dads lawyerNeed help understanding your parenting order or obtaining a parenting order from the court? We would be happy to schedule a consultation with you.  Please give us a call, and one of our Family Law Attorneys will meet with you to discuss your case.

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Five Things You Need to Know About Visitation in Ohio by an Ohio Visitation Lawyer

Virginia Cornwell is an Ohio Visitation Lawyer and a OSBA Certified Family Relations Specialist.  

OHIO VISITATION LAWYER1.  In Ohio, visitation is a privilege, not an obligation.  What that means is when a person has a visitation order (now called parenting time), there is no penalty for failing to exercise parenting time.  To break it down even more, unless there are specific provisions in the parenting time order mandating that all parenting time be exercised (rare), then a person cannot be in contempt for failing to exercise his or her visitation (parenting time or companionship time).  Unfortunately, a person can just skip his or her visitation and not get in trouble from the court.

However, if a person has a pattern of acting in this way, courts are often willing to put a provision in the parenting time order that he or she must call a designated period of time in advance to confirm the he/she will be exercising the visitation (parenting time).  Some courts will go so far as to say that if three visitations in a row are missed visitation is terminated until further order of the court.  These provisions are rarely included in the initial order.  Instead they are usually inserted after the party who is being inconvenienced by the missed visitation brings the issue in front of the court by filing a post-decree motion.

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OHIO VISITATION LAWYER2.  Visitation, it’s not just for parents anymore.  The Ohio revised code provides for visitation for persons who are related to a child by “affinity or consanguinity”.  In other words, people who are close to a child by nature of their relationship with the child or by their blood ties to the child may petition a court for visitation.  See ORC 3109.11, ORC 3109.12 and ORC 3109.051.

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OHIO VISITATION LAWYER3.  Unmarried fathers need to establish paternity before they can even ask for visitation.  If a father is already paying court ordered or CSEA ordered child support then paternity has been established.  For more information on establishing paternity in Ohio, take a look at this article by an Ohio Paternity Lawyer.

4.  Almost every county in Ohio has a suggested visitation schedule for parents.  The visitation schedule is for the parent who is NOT the primary caregiver for the child.  The visitation is not something the court MUST order, and is not what the court ALWAYS orders, it is just a guideline.   Most important, the local rule visitation schedule does not apply until a Judge or Magistrate has ordered it in your case.  If you have a visitation order and it is not exactly the same as the local rule, then you have to abide by the terms of the order.  The schedule is usually found in the local court rules (possibly in separate courts for married and unmarried parents.  Copies of many of Ohio’s local rule visitation schedules can be found on our website, however, it is up to the reader to make sure that they are looking at the MOST CURRENT SCHEDULE before relying on the schedule.

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OHIO VISITATION LAWYER5.  Visitation is modifiable until the child turns 18 years old.  Even better, unlike custody, which is difficult (but not impossible) to change, the legal standard for changing visitation is “best interest of the child”.  That means that if you can show the court that the schedule you are proposing is best for the child, and the court agrees, the court can change your visitation schedule.  To learn more about how the court decides whether a certain schedule is in the best interest of the child, see Ohio Revised Code 3109.051.  After January 1, 2014, use this version of 3109.051.

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I Just Want to See My Kids!

Virginia Cornwell is a Family Law Attorney in Columbus, Ohio.  She is an Ohio State Bar Association Certified Family Relations Specialist.  Her law firm practices exclusively family law. 

LAWYERS CHILD CUSTODY COLUMBUS OHIOWe hear this phrase all the time.  “I just want to see my children. That is what’s important, everything else comes second”.  We get it.  The good news is, with rare exception, courts almost always find that it is in the best interest of the child to have frequent and continuing contact with both parents.

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LAWYERS FAMILY LAWEach case has its own set of facts.  Everybody makes mistakes.  Parents have different parenting styles.  You may not parent the same way that your ex does, and your ex may not like this.  For various reasons, you may not have been as involved in your child’s life in the past as you would have liked to have been.  That does not mean you are not going to be part of your child’s life.  In Ohio, there are very few situations that will keep a parent out of his or her child’s life.

Some examples of those situations are:

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1.  The child has been adopted, often a step-parent adoption, and your parental rights have been terminated.

2.  Your parental rights have been terminated through a child protective services proceeding (aka children’s services)

3.  For whatever reason, a court has made an order limiting or prohibiting your access to your child.  These orders require that you had notice and an opportunity for a hearing.  Some (but not all) examples of situations where a court might make this order are:

  • Domestic violence upon the child
  • A finding that the child is abused, neglected or dependent
  • A court order relating to the child was violated and the court believed this sanction was in the best interest of the child
  • A court found that, for whatever reason, visitation was not in the best interest of the child

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Notice that child support is not on that list?  That is because being behind in your child support does not mean that you are not allowed to have visitation.  However, if you have a warrant out for felony failure to pay child support, you are running the risk that your ex will notify the police.

OHIO FAMILY LAW ATTORNEYSometimes, when a relationship ends, one parent uses the children as pawns in a battle between the parent.  The relationship between the parents has ended and now one parent wants the relationship between the children and the other parent to end as well.  This is not realistic, and is not an attitude Ohio courts support.  However, sometimes parents are determined to thwart the other parent’s relationship with the child, and, unfortunately, rather than seeking the help of an attorney, the parent on the “outside” simply throws his or her hands up and walks away from the situation for a while.

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This can be devastating for the children, and can create a rift in the parent/child relationship.  But, having made this mistake, Ohio parents should know that it is not too late.  You can still seek the help of the court to insert yourself back into your child’s life, and most of the time, the court will support this.  Depending on the age of the child, there may be a period of time where visits are short as the parent and child become reacquainted, and, sometimes, reunification counseling may be necessary, but most of the time Ohio courts take a “better late than never” approach to the situation.

If you are not spending the time with your children that you would like to, it may be helpful to meet with one of our Ohio Family Law Attorneys to discuss your options.

You can talk to one of our attorneys by calling us at 614-225-9316 to make an appointment to discuss your situation.

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Which visitation schedule is the right one for you and your child?

FAMILY VISITATION LAWYERVisitation schedules are not “one size fits all”.

While each Ohio county has a local rule visitation schedule, these local rules are more of a guideline than a rule.  What this means is that each county must have a default schedule that the court considers as the least amount of time that the court generally awards to a fit parent.  This gives parents an idea regarding what to expect, and perhaps this will guide the parents toward agreement.

The schedule the court orders must be in best interest of the child.    Generally, Ohio courts favor schedules that allow the child to see each parent frequently, especially  when the child is very young.  The idea is that the child needs frequent contact with each parent to promote bonding.

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VISITATION LAWYERSo what if the local visitation schedule is not the ideal schedule for your child?  Although Ohio courts often rely on the county’s local visitation schedule as a “jumping off point” so to speak, the court (or the parents, by agreement) may alter the schedule in any way which is in the best interest of the child.  The term “local rule” is sometimes misleading – there is NO RULE which REQUIRES a court to order the local rule visitation schedule as your visitation schedule.  It is simply a guideline.

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PARENTING TIME ATTORNEYSo if the local rule visitation schedule does not work for you, then what schedule should you ask for?  What schedule would work best for you and your child, and be fair to both parents?  The Supreme Court of Ohio has posted a publication on its website entitled “Planning for Parenting Time. Ohio Guide for Parents Living Apart.”   If you read the fine print (under “Limitations of this Guide”, it says that the guide only represents the opinions of the authors, and is does not represent the legal opinion of the Supreme Court of Ohio.  The Introduction to the guide presents the guide as a “resource for the creation of sensible parenting time schedules”.  The Introduction goes on to say that the guide “fosters fair and creative parenting time schedules based on children’s developmental milestones and best interests”.

This guide has 14 parenting schedules to choose from.  The guide also discusses the author’s opinions regarding parenting time needs of children at different ages.

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UNMARRIED FATHER LAWYERIt is better to think of local rule visitation schedules as a floor, rather than a ceiling.  A fit parent is going to get AT LEAST that much parenting time, probably more.  It may not be that exact schedule – not every family has the same work schedule.  Some families work second or third shift, some families live several states apart.

To discuss your options regarding parenting schedules, parental rights, custody and visitation, call one of our Columbus Custody Lawyers to discuss your options.

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