Monday, December 21, 2009

Shared Parenting - Ohio Style and Indiana Style

Here is another long gestating post. Robert Mues wrote a very long post on custody issues under The Legal Distinctions Between “Sole Custody” Versus “Shared Parenting”. He details the responsibilities of a parent with sole custody (read this folks, he does a very good job). He also sums up shared parenting time:

In a “shared parenting” situation, the parents should discuss and make mutual decisions regarding the foregoing issues as well as other important decisions which are in the best interest of the children.

Ideally, “shared parenting” certainly works best with parents who respect one another, communicate well, and who both wish to operate under a “shared parenting” arrangement. But not all Ohio Courts take such a narrow view. Some will order “shared parenting” believing it is still in the best interests of the kids even if the parents’ communications are fractured and one party opposes it! It is important to know the Judge’s philosophy on this issue.

In my last custody case, the judge splits the time between the mother and father for seven days on and seven days off. Quite a shocker but it may also confound some who think there is an anti-father bias. Afterward, the grounds were not clear: father lives about 15- 20 miles from the children, they have a step-brother who has the same schedule from their father's prior marriage, evidence showed the parties were not cooperating at all well, but this was what father wanted. Now the children are picked up between 6:30 pm and 7:00 pm from mother's residence and brought back in the morning in time to catch the school bus at 6:30 am. This is the first time that I have had a judge order this kind of custody arrangement. We had a different judge at the provisional hearing and he was quite clear about the untenability of a 50-50 split of custody.

I see Ohio's shared parenting the same as Indiana's joint custody. I have commented before (here and here and here) that I do not think joint custody works where the parties cannot cooperate. Mr. Mues' formula of "parents who respect one another, communicate well, and who both wish to operate under a “shared parenting” arrangement" has a far less evocative echo in Indiana Code 31-17-2-15(2)
whether the persons awarded joint custody are willing and able to communicate and cooperate in advancing the child's welfare;
I can see a situation where the parties fight over the china but not about the children. Where the children are the subject of the fight, I do not see how joint custody is possible under either Mr. Mues' formula or IC 31-17-2-15(2). Anyone being able to explain this other than merely saying "I am the parent", please add a comment below. This reminds me of the discussion in some of the material I collected in More on Paternity Fraud between a daddy and a father.

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