Alexander Law Firm Co., LPA
A Legal Professional Association

Shared Parenting

Shared Parenting and Sole Custody


Sole Custody designates one parent as the “residential parent and legal custodian” of a child or children. Shared Parenting, on the other hand, is similar to what used to be referred to as “joint custody” and designates both parents “residential parents and legal custodians” of a child or children.

Whenever children are involved, the court must allocate parental rights and responsibilities. The court must consider various factors when allocating parental rights and responsibilities, including: the wishes of the parents, the wishes of the child in some cases, the child's interaction with parents, siblings, and other persons who may significantly affect the child's best interest; the child's adjustment to home, school and community; the mental and physical health of all persons involved; the parent more likely to honor and promote the child's relationship with the other parent; whether a parent has been convicted of domestic violence or child abuse and other factors.

If one or both of the parties is seeking shared parenting, the Court must also consider the ability of the parents to cooperate and make decisions jointly with regard 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 domestic violence or child abuse; the geographic proximity of the parties to one another and any recommendation of the guardian ad litem, if there is one.

What is a Shared Parenting Plan?

If parents agree to shared parenting, or if one parent is seeking shared parenting, a Shared Parenting Plan must be prepared and submitted to the Court for approval. The specific provisions of a shared parenting plan address all aspects of care for the children, including the physical living arrangements, provisions for medical and dental care, school placement and child support obligations. Many plans also provide for the manner in which decisions regarding scholastic and extra-curricular activities will be made.

What if the parties cannot agree on Sole Custody or Shared Parenting?

If the parents cannot agree on sole custody to one parent or shared parenting, they will have a custody trial. At trial, both parents will have an opportunity to present testimony of lay witnesses as well as the testimony of expert witnesses.

Either parent may request, or the court may order, both parents and children to submit to medical, psychological or psychiatric examinations and some courts utilize Guardians Ad Litem to prepare a recommendation for the Court. After trial, the court will decide whether shared parenting is appropriate. If it is deemed ot not be in the children’s best interests, one parent will be designated the legal custodian and residential parent.

If the parents agree on the concept of shared parenting but cannot agree upon certain terms in the shared parenting plan, each party may submit a shared parenting plan and, after trial, the court will decide which plan to adopt or order its own plan.

With Shared Parenting, will parenting time be split equally?

Not necessarily. Some shared parenting plans divide parenting time equally between the parents while other plans look at the children’s and the parent’s schedules (employment, travel, distance between residence, etc.) and use a more traditional schedule.

        Call Christopher M. Alexander at (513)228 - 1100

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