Although a divorce can be emotionally traumatic for the children involved, fortunately it does not undo the legal relationship created by an adoption. Just as it is for biological parents, if you are facing a divorce, it is important to understand the child custody laws in your state before heading into the courtroom -- particularly in Ohio where the terminology is a bit different than in other states.
Legal Effect of Adoption
Once you have legally adopted a child, your relationship is no different than if the child were biologically yours. If you and your spouse adopted a child during your marriage, or one spouse adopted a child the other spouse had from a previous relationship, courts will determine custody according to the same laws that pertain to biological children.
Parental Rights and Responsibilities
Ohio refers to the process of determining child custody issues as allocating parental rights and responsibilities. When parents divorce, the court issues an order providing where the children will live and how decisions are to be made for them. One parent may be the sole residential and legal custodian of the child, meaning that parent will make all major decisions for the child. The court may instead order shared parenting, known in other states as joint custody, which means parents will make decisions for the child together. However, even in cases where one parent is the sole residential parent, the nonresidential parent is typically allowed access to school and medical records, as well as regular visitation, referred to in Ohio as parenting periods.
Parenting Time Schedule
In cases of both shared parenting and sole residential arrangements, the parents will have a parenting time schedule, which determines when the child spends time with each parent. Parenting time is not necessarily equal between the parents, even in cases of shared parenting. Parents are free to come to a mutual agreement on a parenting schedule that works best for their family, subject to the court's approval. However, if the parents cannot decide, it will be up to the court to come up with a schedule that is in the child's best interest.
As in every state, courts in Ohio make custody determinations based on what is in the best interests of the child. Under state law, the court may consider several factors, including the relationship the children have with their parents, parents' relationship with each other, health of everyone involved, and child's adjustment to the community and home of each parent. Similarly, in considering whether or not the parents should share parenting responsibilities, the court will consider such factors as how well the parents can communicate, cooperate with each other and encourage the relationship between the child and other parent.