What Are The Grounds for Full Custody Of A Child in Ohio?

Parent holding hands of child
July 7, 2022

In general, courts in Ohio try to maximize and facilitate a child’s time spent with each parent in a divorce or custody order. However, there are many reasons why any parent or guardian would pursue sole custody of a child. Substance abuse, domestic violence, mental or physical health limitations, or logistical concerns about a parent’s availability are just a few of the reasons parents commonly request that the Court grant full custody of a child.

Most parents seek to protect the safety and best interest of children during a divorce or custody battle, it can sometimes be difficult to prove to a court that sole custody is the correct decision. In the end, everyone–lawyer, judge, and parent–wants what is best for the child. Being prepared and having an experienced child custody attorney on your team can greatly increase your success.

What The Court Looks For

As you set out to gain sole custody of a child, know that these key elements are what a judge is looking for when they consider your case. As mentioned above, a child’s “best interest” will always be at the heart of any custody case. Here are some factors that the court uses to determine which party best serves this interest:

  • Parents’ wishes about their child’s care
  • Child’s wishes, concerns, and preferences about their own care and parental responsibilities (dependent upon age and other factors)
  • Child’s relationships with other individuals in each household
  • Potential adjustments to a new home, school, and/or community
  • Health (mental, physical, etc.) of both parties, along with health considerations of others living within each household
  • Parental cooperation and willingness to honor the court’s decisions regarding parenting time and visitation
  • Criminal history of both parents and any individuals living in their households (especially if the crime involved minors)
  • Place of residence of both parents, especially if either is planning to move out of state
  • Whether a parent is delinquent on child support obligations

On the whole, the judge assigned to your case will be focused on determining whether one parent or the other should be designated as the child’s primary parent and decision maker.  Regardless, the “non-custodial” parent will likely have companionship time with the child, and will be entitled to medical and educational information about them.

Prove Your Eligibility to the Court

The judge presiding over your sole custody case will be carefully scrutinizing you and the opposing party––they will need to be absolutely convinced that you are the “better parent” before awarding custody to you. This can be an especially difficult bar to meet if both parents/guardians are positive influences and constantly present in the child’s life. That said, there are some clear parameters that may quickly disqualify any individual:

  • Substance use and/or abuse
  • Domestic violence and/or child abuse
  • Court order violation or any case of breaking the law
  • A health condition that could make it exceptionally difficult to care for a child

These factors speak volumes about the potential risks that a child could encounter in your care. Remember that everything you do, and every piece of information you present should be focused on proving that awarding you sole custody is in the best interest of the child. 

One key way to prove to the court that you are the ideal candidate to raise this child is to be cooperative and willing when it comes to the judge’s requests and stipulations. Here are some specific ways you can do that:

  • Fill out all necessary paperwork in a timely manner–a trusted child custody lawyer can help you here
  • Attend the initial child custody hearing
  • Always speak calmly and respectfully if called upon to do so
  • Respect what the court decides
  • Be patient–sometimes a final decision can take up to a year or more

In the end, it is everyone’s goal to come to a decision that benefits the child. The process can feel long, drawn-out, and overwhelming. Rest assured, if you have a seasoned divorce and child custody attorney by your side, you will be well prepared for the journey and have the best likelihood of proving a strong case for sole custody. 

Partner With a Child Custody Lawyer You Can Trust

Step one in your child custody journey is to find an attorney that understands your situation and is capable of steering your case forward. Sole custody cases are complex and hard to navigate. Partnering with a knowledgeable divorce attorney at the outset can make all the difference. With their experience on your side, you can avoid common pitfalls and be sure that you’re doing everything possible to reach your goal and provide a safe, happy, and nurturing environment for your child.

At the Law Offices Of Cara L. Santosuosso, LLC we understand what is at stake and what is involved in a sole custody case. We have successfully worked with many clients, and are ready to help you. Reach out today to learn more about us and to schedule a consultation so we can better understand your situation. We look forward to working with you.