Shared Parenting – What Does It Mean?

What is Shared Parenting?

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 a court-order “plan” which allocates all parental rights and responsibilities involving a minor child.

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:

  • the ability of the parents to cooperate and make decisions jointly, with respect to the children;
  • the ability of each parent to encourage the sharing of love, affection and contact between the child and the other parent;
  • any history of, or potential for, child abuse, spousal abuse, other domestic violence, or parental kidnapping by either parent;
  • the geographic proximity of the parents to each other, as the proximity relates to the practical considerations of shared parenting;
  • the recommendation of the Guardian ad litem of the child, if the child has a Guardian ad litem.

How Easy Is It To Modify a Shared Parenting Plan

Generally, it is not east to modify a Shared Parenting Plan. The Ohio Revised Code specifically states that the court shall not modify a prior decree unless it finds:

  1. Based on facts that have arisen since the prior decree or that were unknown to the court at the time of the prior decree,
  2. that a change has occurred in the circumstances of the child, or either of the parent subject to the shared parenting decree, and
  3. 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, 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.

How Easy Is It To Terminate

A Shared Parenting Plan can be terminated in several circumstances.  The court may terminate a prior final decree that includes a shared parenting plan (1) upon the request of one or both of the parents or (2) whenever it determines that shared parenting is not in the best interest of the child.

The court may terminate a prior final 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 decree is attempted and the court rejects the modifications, it may terminate the final 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 it ever had been made.

To Read the Complete Ohio Revised Code Section Involving Shared Parenting, Click Here. 

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 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.

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.

Variations on Alternating Weeks. 
The simplest shared parenting schedule is alternating weeks of custody. 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.

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.

This could also be 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.

Contact Us 

The Law Office of Anthony W. Greco provides each and every client with professional, aggressive and practical representation. Our top priority is our client’s unique goals and concerns. Our firm has experience preparing for all issues involved in Shared Parenting cases.  From complex, emotionally charged cases, to the most basic and amicable custody agreement, Attorney Greco’s team is prepared to aggressively represent our clients’ concerns and interest from the first day or representation through trial.  Contact us to see what sets us apart.