Key Points of the Legislation explained in detail
· Equal legal and physical access – throughout this bill. – This corrects a major problem that exists within current law. While the current statute allows for “shared parenting” it never defines what shared parenting is.
· Clear and convincing becomes the standard of review - This corrects the use of discretionary decisions and requires the courts to use facts not affidavits as their basis for awarding custody. The change to this evidentiary standard also bring Ohio law to the current standards of review as noted in numerous United States Supreme Court decisions. This will also eliminate the use of false allegations which are a major problem for the courts and commonly used to “take” a parent out of a child’s life. Case law on the subject and a White Paper explaining why we need to update this standard of review at the lines provided here.
· Moves become considered if they are outside of the contiguous county area – Currently law only allows that a parents desire to relocate can be considered if that move is outside of the borders of Ohio. In looking at the way that various local rules address this issue a unique solution was found in Hamilton County. Because of the geographic location and the way that other counties intertwine with Hamilton, the local court considers moves outside of the contiguous area, not just the state.
· Automatic deviations on child support – A parenting time adjust has long been sought and this will correct the situation for parents that have their children 50% of the time and are currently paying child support as if they are seeing them only a minimum. This does not eliminate child support. What this will do is make the support amounts fair for both parents and responsible for the costs of raising a child and will eliminate addition court expenses of having to separately motion for the deviation. There is no burden on the state for this.
· Guardian Ad Litem becomes a may instead of a shall and costs are taxed equally – At present the costs of the Guardian Ad Litem are not divided equally burdening one parent with the costs of involvement that effects both parties. I have expectations that the use of GALs will diminish in the future as the full effects of this law takes effect.
· Psychological, medical and psychiatric exams are by written motion with costs taxed to moving parties or divided equally – The costs involved with these exams are very high and often unnecessary and brought on by false claims that are presently very prevalent in the courts. Often these are verbally motioned for or suggested by an attorney as a method of dragging the process out longer. The purpose for dragging the process on longer by an attorney can have multiple reasons, the run up the fees or to further establish the Status Quo situation brought about by temporary orders that were established without a hearing and only by affidavit. Fees can also be used currently as a method to cripple the case of a parent. This element will only come into play if there is evidence to support that there exists a major issue with a party to the case.
· Courts must support with finding of facts and conclusion of law in any order when they reject a plan – This one will have a far reaching effect as this will make life easier on the Appellant level courts in the state. With the current discretionary standard that is used in the family law system in Ohio, the decisions of the courts are based on the personal biases of the judge’s opinions rather than supported facts and law. This causes a problem for the Appeals Courts when often the only method of challenging a decision is to make the claim that a trial court abused their discretion (Blakemore V Blakemore is controlling Ohio Case) The court will now have to fully support their decisions are a requirement of law although the good judges have already been doing this. It is no additional work.
· If a court awards less than equal they have to set up a plan of action so that the unsuitable parent can remove the unsuitability. – I use the example that it currently is easier for an unfit parent to be reunited with their child than a fit parent that goes thru a divorce. This is done in juvenile court all the time and will this will bring this to the Domestic Relations Courts for the first time. The methodology is plain and simple if the court find that a parent has a defect that means that they are unable to be an equal part of their child’s life, that parent will have the chance to correct that defect so that they can once again become the fit parent that we as a society want them to be. This would be the procedure when it is provable that a parent has a drug or alcohol problem.
· The use of child support as method of blocking equal access is addressed by now considering whether a parent had the ability to pay. – This is one that few know is within current law. Often we have parents that fall behind because of work or unreasonable orders. The unions pushed for child support and custody to be separate issues because of layoffs and plant shut downs which were often mandatory. These often created a situation of being unable to pay, same as with the unreasonable orders, which then causes a person to be in arrears. With these two issues supposed to separate, why are we still allowing it as part of the custody determination process? This one is common sense.
· The use of “potential harm” is removed. - No more crystal balling by the courts. Removal of this clause and procedure is part of the addition of the “clear and convincing” standard and the supporting of all decisions with fact. Clear and convincing evidence is the Federal Procedural Standard for Civil cases and these determinations are part of civil cases.
· Old orders can be revisited and changed once this is signed into law – Going back and doing this will be up to the individual parents involved but this will make the option available should a parent know that the original decision was wrong and that they were fit and should have had equal custody from the beginning.
· Temporary allocations are equal unless clear and convincing evidence suggest otherwise. - The status quo long used by temporary orders to prevent changes is gone with this as there will have to be a full evidentiary hearing instead of the courts making their determinations on “temporary orders” based on affidavits. Under the current scheme the court often use the “Status Quo” as their reason to not change from what they set at what is supposed to be a temporary hearing making the temporary hearing anything but temporary.
· Putative fathers will now stand on an equal basis with the mother in allocation of rights. - The road block to unmarried is removed by placing the unmarried mother and father on an equal basis from the birth of their child.
Ohio Family Rights is a national free association of like minded people that work to comprehensively change the way that states and the courts view custody between divorced and never married people. We have dedicated ourselves to correcting what has long been a major problem of socially engineering fit parents from the lives of their child every day. This goal can only be accomplished by comprehensively correcting the flaws within the “Shared Parenting laws” that are currently in place so that all fit parents and their children can benefit from equal custody. Please join us in our efforts to protect the families of this nation and the future of our children.
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