If an Ohio divorce, dissolution, legal separation, or annulment proceeding involves a child, and the court has not issued a shared parenting decree, the court must decide on visitation. The court shall make a just and reasonable order or decree permitting the parent who is not the residential parent to visit the child at the time and under the conditions that the court directs, unless the court determines that it would not be in the best interest of the child to permit that parent to visit the child.
Whenever possible, the visitation order should ensure the opportunity for both parents to have frequent and continuing contact with the child, unless that would not be in the child's best interests. The court shall include in its final decree a specific schedule of visitation for that parent.
What factors does the court take into consideration when determining visitation rights?
In determining whether to grant a parent visitation rights and coming up with a specific visitation schedule, the court must consider these factors:
- the prior interaction and relationships of the child with the parents, siblings, and other relatives
- the geographical location of each parent's residence and the distance between those residences
- how much time the child and parents have available, including but not limited to each parent's employment schedule, the child's school schedule, and the child's and the parents' holiday and vacation schedule
- the child's age
- the child's adjustment to his home, school, and community
- the child's own wishes and concerns, if appropriate
- the child's health and safety
- how much time that will be available for the child to spend with siblings
- the mental and physical health of all concerned
- each parent's willingness to reschedule missed visitation and to facilitate the other parent's visitation rights
- whether either parent is guilty of abuse or neglect
- whether the residential parent or one of the parents subject to a shared parenting decree has continuously and willfully denied the other parent his or her right to visitation in accordance with an order of the court
- whether either parent has established a residence or is planning to establish a residence outside this state, and
- any other factor in the best interest of the child.
Does a parent have to exercise visitation rights?
No. No law requires a parent to visit a child, if the parent doesn't want to.
May a parent deny visitation rights to a parent who refuses to pay child support?
No. A parent may not be denied visitation for failure to pay child support. There are other remedies for getting the parent to pay.
May a parent stop paying child support if the other parent denies visitation?
No. The duty to pay child support is separate and distinct from the right to visitation with a child.
What should a parent do if the other parent denies visitation?
A parent who is denied visitation with his or her child can ask the court to find the parent who is wrongfully denying the visitation in contempt of court. If found in contempt, the offending parent may be made to pay court costs (including the attorney fees) of the other parent, may be ordered to allow the parent to make up the missed visitation time, and may be ordered to spend time in jail.
Can a visitation order be modified?
A visitation order can be modified under the same conditions that a court can modify a prior order allocating parental rights and responsibilities. The parent who wants the change must show that circumstances have changed or previously unknown facts have become known since the original decree. The court must find that the modification would be in the best interests of the child.