Parents ending their marital relationship have two methods of determining how they will deal with issues involving their children. In Ohio, we no longer refer to the terms “custody” and “visitation” but discuss these matters as “allocation of parental rights and responsibilities.” The new terminology removes the concept of winning and losing implicit in older classifications and puts the emphasis on duties and benefits of parenting.
Should one parent be designated the “residential parent and legal custodian,” that parent will be responsible for and will need to make all important child care decisions. That parent would not need to consult the other prior to making a decision.
Should the parties decide to share in the decision making process a shared parenting plan may be adopted. Shared parenting is a formal agreement between a mother and a father that provides that they will cooperate and consult with each other in an attempt to reach an agreement on important child rearing decisions. Those decisions would include medical treatment, school placement, extra-curricular activities and similar issues. Ordinarily, each parent is designated the residential parent of the children when the children are with that parent. The parents must agree on a parenting time (possession) schedule that indicates where the children will be at any given day or time. However, because shared parents are working together, many times the formal schedule is modified in real life.
Under a shared parenting plan, the children can attend school in the school district in which either parent resides. Consequently, the parents must designate in their plan where the children will attend school. The designation “residential parent for school purposes” is a term used in the statute, but the term only refers to the school that the children will attend and it grants no preference beyond the stated school district.
Shared parenting does not require any particular parenting time schedule nor does it have any bearing on the issue of child support.
Shared parenting is by far the preferable method of resolving child issues providing that the parents are able to put their differences aside and work in the best interest of their children.