Shared Parenting – What Does It Mean

Shared Parenting.  What Is The Definition

Shared Parenting can be defined as a Court Ordered “Plan” which allocates all parental rights and responsibilities involving a minor child in a divorce, dissolution or in any action between parents who were never married.  A Shared Parenting Plan will address each and every issue that involves the minor child, including but not limited to, parenting time (also called visitation), decision making authority for extracurricular activities and health care decisions, as well as the school district wherein the child will attend school.  A Shared Parenting Plan often requires the parents to share all or some of the aspects of the physical and legal care of the child in accordance with the approved Shared Parenting Plan.  In addition, under Ohio law, when parents have a Shared Parenting Plan, both parents have the legal designation as being a “residential parent”, even though one parent may have the  designation as the “residential parent for school placement purposes only“.

Shared Parenting – Is It Right For You and Your Child

In determining whether shared parenting is in the best interest of your child, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including, but not limited to, the “best interests” tests factors, as well as all of the following factors:

1. The ability of the parents to cooperate and make decisions jointly, with respect to the children;

2. The ability of each parent to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other parent;

3.  Any history of, or potential for, child abuse, spouse abuse, other domestic violence, or parental kidnapping by either parent;

4.  The geographic proximity of the parents to each other, as the proximity relates to the practical considerations of shared parenting;

5.  The recommendation of the guardian ad litem of the child, if the child has a guardian ad litem.

Shared Parenting – The Best Interests Factors

In determining the best interest of a child, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including, but not limited to:

1.  The wishes of the child’s parents regarding the child’s care;

2.  If the court has interviewed the child in chambers, the child’s wishes and concerns as to the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities concerning the child, the wishes and concerns of the child, as expressed to the court;

3.  The child’s interaction and interrelationship with the child’s parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interest;

4.  The child’s adjustment to the child’s home, school, and community;

5.  The mental and physical health of all persons involved in the situation;

6.  The parent more likely to honor and facilitate court-approved parenting time rights or visitation and companionship rights;

7.  Whether either parent has failed to make all child support payments, including all arrearages, that are required of that parent pursuant to a child support order under which that parent is an obligor;

8.  Whether either parent or any member of the household of either parent previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to any criminal offense involving any act that resulted in a child being an abused child or a neglected child; whether either parent, in a case in which a child has been adjudicated an abused child or a neglected child, previously has been determined to be the perpetrator of the abusive or neglectful act that is the basis of an adjudication; whether either parent or any member of the household of either parent previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to a violation of section 2919.25 of the Revised Code or a sexually oriented offense involving a victim who at the time of the commission of the offense was a member of the family or household that is the subject of the current proceeding; whether either parent or any member of the household of either parent previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to any offense involving a victim who at the time of the commission of the offense was a member of the family or household that is the subject of the current proceeding and caused physical harm to the victim in the commission of the offense; and whether there is reason to believe that either parent has acted in a manner resulting in a child being an abused child or a neglected child;

9.  Whether the residential parent or one of the parents subject to a shared parenting decree has continuously and willfully denied the other parent’s right to parenting time in accordance with an order of the court;

10.  Whether either parent has established a residence, or is planning to establish a residence, outside this state.

How Easy Is It To Modify a Shared Parenting Plan

Generally, it is not easy to modify a Shared Parenting Plan, unless something significant has changed since the date of the last Shared Parenting Decree was filed, or if the parties agree.  The Ohio Revised Code specifically states that 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.

Shared Parenting – How Easy Is It To Terminate

A Shared Parenting Plan can be terminated in several circumstances.  The court may terminate a prior final shared parenting decree that includes a shared parenting plan upon the request of one or both of the parents OR whenever it determines that shared parenting is not in the best interest of the child.

The court may terminate a prior final shared parenting decree that includes a shared parenting plan if it determines, upon its own motion or upon the request of one or both parents, that shared parenting is not in the best interest of the children.

If modification of the terms of the plan for shared parenting approved by the court and incorporated by it into the final shared parenting decree is attempted and the court rejects the modifications, it may terminate the final shared parenting decree if it determines that shared parenting is not in the best interest of the children.

Upon the termination of a prior final shared parenting decree, the court shall proceed and issue a modified decree for the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities for the care of the children as if no decree for shared parenting had been granted and as if no request for shared parenting ever had been made.

To Read the Complete Ohio Revised Code Section Involving Shared Parenting, see the link here:  http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/3109.04.

Shared Parenting Plan – What Does It Look Like

Shared Parenting Plans can vary widely based upon particular facts and circumstances involved in each particular Custody or Visitation (Parenting Time) case, and can be agreed upon or Court Ordered without agreement. Every Shared Parenting Plan will address Parenting Times (Visitation) and Parental Rights and Responsibilities each parent will have with respect to their children. Shared Parenting Plans often times provide for parents to share equally in the decision-making process regarding their children. It is important to note that even though the parties have a Shared Parenting Plan in place, this does not automatically mean that no child support will be payable.  While the Court certainly can make an  Order where neither parent pays Child Support to the other, equal time alone is rarely enough to achieve this outcome.

Some Examples of Relatively Equal Parenting Time

2/2/3 Custody Schedule. In this custody schedule, one parent has the child for two days, the other parent has the child for the next two days, and then the child goes back to the parent for a three day weekend. It ends up working out that each parent has two days with the child during the week and the parents alternate with a long weekend. Here is a calendar view to make it more clear.

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You can see with this schedule that the parents have an equal amount of time with the children. It is a two week rotating schedule and it is usually a good arrangement if parents want to alternate weekends. There is more switching back and forth than a 3/3/4/4 and a 2/2/5/5 custody schedule. If the parents live close by and the child does all right with the changes then this arrangement may work very well for you.

2. Variations on Alternating Weeks. Alternating weeks of custody is the simplest shared parenting schedule. However, the drawback of this schedule is that a parent does not see the children for an entire week. To make this work, many parents take the basic alternating week schedule and add some variations to it. A common thing to do is to add an evening visit during the week with the other parent.

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You can see that the visit allows the other parent some time during the week with the other parent so it not too long. You could also make this an overnight visit if you wanted.

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This could also be labeled a 4/1/2 rotating schedule. You don’t really see that as a common term though–it’s easier to just think of it as alternating weeks of custody with an overnight visit.

The pattern that emerges with all of these schedules, is that to make a shared parenting arrangement, simply divide up a week or two week time period equally between the parents. Then you can have that be your repeating cycle. You can set up anything that works for you. Perhaps it works best for you to have the child live with one parent, but the other parent takes them after school and on Friday night.

The Law Office of Anthony W. Greco is committed to providing each and every Client with professional, aggressive and practical representation, while being sensitive to the Client’s unique concerns and goals. With more than 23 years of experience, our firm is equipped to deal with all issues involved in Divorce and Child Custody matters. From the complex, emotionally charged Custody case, to the negotiated Shared Parenting Plan, The Law Office of Anthony Greco is prepared to aggressively represent its Clients’ concerns and interests from the first day of representation through trial.

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