Cincinnati Family Law & Divorce Blog: Parenting Schedule When Going Through Divorce

LauraEThudium | Cincinnati Divorce Lawyers - Family Law

If you are going through a divorce or if you are thinking about starting the process, deciding what parenting schedule is best for your children is likely one of the most important things you will consider. Courts typically encourage parents to mutually agree on a schedule that best fits their children’s needs. However, if parents cannot agree, you might wonder if there are any defaults or standards that courts use when determining a parenting schedule. Some states like Kentucky have enacted a rebuttable presumption that for married parents, joint custody and equal parenting time is in the best interest of the child (KRS 403.270). In contrast, Ohio courts are not mandated by statute to presume that an equal schedule is in a child’s best interest. Most Ohio counties have adopted their own parenting order guides, which may be referred to as “guideline,” “model,” or “standard” parenting orders. The guideline parenting orders vary widely from county to county and they can also vary based on the child’s age. It is important to note the specific guideline parenting orders discussed in this blog apply to married parents. There may be different guideline parenting orders for non-married parents in each county.

While most Ohio guideline parenting orders do not presume equal time, almost every order highlights the importance of the child spending consistent and frequent time with both parents. Each guideline order also includes a suggested holiday schedule which alternates holiday time for both parents. The Hamilton County and Butler County Parenting Orders include five different parenting schedules based on the child’s age and developmental milestones. Warren County, Ohio’s Parenting Schedule includes a Basic I and Basic II parenting schedule. Whether the court uses Basic I, Basic II, or some other schedule may be based on many factors, including but not limited to: the needs of the children, the parent’s employment schedules, school schedules, or geographic proximity. On April 26, 2019, Clermont County adopted a guideline order with equal parenting time for children from birth to age 16, similar to Kentucky’s statewide presumption. While the individual county’s guideline orders vary, each court has the ability to make a decision based on the individual circumstances of your case.

The model parenting schedules in each county do not mandate a minimum or maximum amount of parenting time for either parent – they are simply meant to serve as a guide. For example, if one parent has a history of child abuse, domestic violence, or substance abuse, that might be a reason for the court to deviate from the guideline parenting order. On the other hand, some parents may already be exercising an equal parenting schedule and the court may issue an order to continue that schedule. Ultimately, each parent has the opportunity to present evidence to the court of individual circumstances and the court is tasked with ordering a schedule that is in the child’s best interest.

You should consult with a lawyer about the individual factors affecting your case. Below are links to the four Ohio county parenting orders specifically mentioned above:

Hamilton County, Ohio’s “Standard Parenting Order”

Clermont County, Ohio’s “Guideline Parenting Schedule”

Warren County, Ohio’s “Basic Parenting Schedules”

Butler County, Ohio’s “Guidelines for Parenting Time”