Cincinnati Family Law & Divorce Blog: House Bill 14 and Its Ramifications
In a divorce where there are children involved, an important decision to make is what the parenting time schedule will be moving forward. A parenting time schedule simply refers to the time that each parent will have the child in their care, both during the day and overnight. If the parties agree on how parenting time should be allocated, they can enter into a Shared Parenting Plan. A Shared Parenting plan is a written agreement that specifies the parenting schedule the parties intend to follow, amongst other things.
When the parties cannot agree on parenting time, the court determines the parenting time schedule based on what is in the child’s best interest. Currently in Ohio, each county’s court references its own standard parenting order when creating the parenting time schedule for the parties. The standard parenting order varies from county to county, and the court has discretion to deviate from its own standard parenting order when it is appropriate and in the best interest of the child. However, if passed, a proposed bill in the Ohio Legislature will change how the court determines parenting time.
House Bill 14, also known as the “Equal Parenting Bill” was introduced in the House of Representatives on February 15, 2023. If the bill passes and becomes Ohio law, the court will work under the presumption that an equal parenting time schedule is appropriate and in the best interests of the child. While some courts’ standard parenting orders already reflect a 50/50 parenting time schedule as the baseline to work from, others do not. House Bill 14 would cause all courts across Ohio to begin parenting time analysis under the presumption that equal parenting time is appropriate. This presumption would be rebuttable only if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that an equal parenting time arrangement would be detrimental to the minor child. House Bill 14 would put the burden on the parent who objects to equal parenting time to demonstrate that 50/50 parenting time would be detrimental to the child.
House Bill 14 is still in the early stages of moving through legislation, having been introduced in the house in February 2023. For House Bill 14 to become law, it will need to be passed by the House of Representatives as well as the Senate, where it would then be sent to the governor for signature.