How is child custody decided in Ohio? These issues are decided by domestic relations and juvenile courts in Ohio. For disputes between parents, the domestic relations courts in Medina County, Summit County and Cuyahoga County hear such cases. In Wayne County, Ohio, the domestic relations court hears child custody cases in divorce and post-divorce decree cases. The Wayne County juvenile court hears child custody cases between unmarried parents. For purposes of this article, we will refer to all these courts as the Ohio child custody court.
The Ohio child custody court must decide between sole custody to one parent and shared parenting with both parents. The parent who is awarded sole custody becomes the child’s legal custodian and will make decisions about non-emergency medical care, education, religion, discipline and extra-curricular activities. The sole legal custodian must let the non-custodial parent know about such matters but will make the final decisions.
When can grandparents take custody of a child? A nonparent can be awarded custody of a minor child if the court makes a finding of parental unsuitability. Parental unsuitability can be determined if the "parent abandoned the child; contractually relinquished custody of the child; that the parent has become totally incapable of supporting or caring for the child; or that an award of custody to the parent would be detrimental to the child.” Parents who are suitable persons have a paramount right to the custody of their minor children.
In other words, parents have a right to care for and raise their children. In order to infringe on that right, someone must first demonstrate that the parent is unsuitable, commonly known as unfit parents. A typical case of parental unsuitability is when the parents leave the children with the grandparents and disappear for a long period of time. In such an instance, the grandparent will likely be able to prove parental unsuitability and may be able to obtain custody of the children.