Thursday, March 30, 2023

Play

Nebraska attorneys develop a workers rights program, the FDA approves over-the-counter sales of the overdose-reversing drug Naloxone, and mayors look for new ways to partner with the federal government.

Play

The Senate repeals authorization of military force in Iraq, the former CEO of Starbucks testifies about the company's worker policies, and Kentucky overrides the governor's veto of gender-affirming care for children.

Play

Small towns respond to a hidden housing and homelessness crisis, a new national weather prediction system will help close the gap between urban and rural forecasting, and more rural communities are eligible for a design project to boost economic development.

Ohio Bill Would Make Shared Parenting the Default for Child-Custody Cases

Play

Tuesday, April 19, 2022   

CORRECTION: Article updated to include comment from the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence. (6:30 a.m. EST. April 21, 2022)

By Halena Sepulveda at Kent State University
Broadcast version by Mary Schuermann reporting for the Kent State-Ohio News Connection Collaboration.


The passing of a bill currently making its way through the Ohio Legislature would change the way the court system handles child custody cases by making a shared parenting agreement the new presumed outcome.

Around 10% of Ohio child custody cases involve court intervention. Under current state law those cases have two possible outcomes: with sole custody assigned to one parent, who is then considered the residential parent and has the power to make decisions on behalf of the child; or with a shared parenting agreement that considers each parent a residential parent, giving them both the authority to make decisions about their children. Presently neither option is considered the default outcome in the eyes of the court.

If passed, House Bill 508 would allot equal residential time to both parents as the default. In order to argue for sole custody, parents would have to demonstrate clear and convincing evidence a shared parenting agreement would not be in the best interest of the children.

The bill "had 59 co-sponsors when we signed it, which is unheard of," said Rep. Rodney Creech, R-West Alexandria, who introduced the bill in December along with Rep. Thomas West, D-Canton.

H.B. 508 had its third hearing before the Legislature's Civil Justice committee on Apr. 5.

Ohioans in support of HB 508 argue that children do best when both parents are involved in their lives, and that children raised in single-parent households face a higher risk of the negative impacts of instability.

"When it comes to teen violence and teen pregnancy and drug abuse and delinquency and incarceration rates among youth, we know that the common thing [among] all of these children in troubled youth is they're lacking...a significant relationship with one of their parents," said Elizabeth McNeese, co-chair of the National Parents Organization affiliate in Ohio, an organization focused on promoting shared parenting after divorce.

Some domestic violence organizations in Ohio, however, fear the effects of HB 508 could cause potential risk to children who are already exposed to domestic violence.

"The 10% [of parents] that do go and litigate, the majority of them, there are reports of some kind of domestic violence or family violence," said Danielle Pollack, policy manager at the National Family Violence Law Center at The George Washington University.

Pollack said many of the cases that require court intervention are "high conflict" cases, which more often involve a history of domestic violence. These high conflict cases are the major concern for those in opposition of HB 508.

"We don't want a presumption of 50/50," said Nancy Fingerhood, a member of the National Safe Parents Coalition. "Because these are the cases where you'll end up giving more access to the abuser."

Supporters of the bill argue HB 508 acknowledges not all cases should start with the presumed outcome of shared parenting.

"We recognize, and the bill also recognizes, that there are situations that equal parenting is absolutely not appropriate," McNeese said. "Domestic violence, child abuse, neglect, those are reasons to rebut that equal presumption."

Creech said many parents who litigate child custody cases do so in an effort to fight for equal or increased time with their children. Because child custody battles are often a battle for equal time, supporters of the bill argue HB 508 would help reduce the number of child custody battles overall.

"Good parents should not have to spend 70, 80, 90 thousand dollars just to remain a parent," McNeese said.

Although HB 508 would set a presumed outcome for child custody cases, the bill also explicitly states the factors and scenarios, such as incidents of domestic violence or neglect, that would contest the presumption of equal parenting.

But language in the bill could make it harder for parents to prove domestic violence than it is now.

HB 508 requires the state to raise the standard of evidence for domestic violence in child custody cases, from a "preponderance of evidence" to "clear and convincing" evidence. This would require victims of domestic violence to demonstrate a history of proveable abuse to the judge in order to appeal the presumed outcome of shared parenting.

Creech said legislation similar to HB 508 enacted in other states is having a positive effect on child custody issues and related court battles.

For instance, Kentucky's state House passed HB 528 in 2018.

Since then, "domestic violence is down, child abuse is down, court cases are down 16%," Creech said. "So, if this was a bad bill, we would be noticing it in Kentucky after it's been in place for four years."

However, the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence said in a statement that there is no direct correlation between a decrease in domestic violence and Kentucky's passing of their 50/50 custody law.

This collaboration is produced in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded in part by the George Gund Foundation.


get more stories like this via email

The report outlines ways that higher education could be creative and flexible with how schools are using their platforms to reach students. (Adobe stock)

Social Issues

New findings confirm suspicions about the top reasons many students considered dropping out of college over the last six months. The Gallup and …


Social Issues

Two reports confirm a troubling trend in terms of Black students attending college. According to the University System of Georgia, enrollment among …

Health and Wellness

States such as Minnesota continue to grapple with recent spikes in fatal overdoses tied to opioids. Now, a federal agency has taken what aid groups …


The Warrior Way Back program at Wayne State University works with older students who may have families or jobs competing for their study time. (digitalskillet/Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

Everyone starts college with pretty much the same dream - to earn a degree and have a better life. But sometimes life gets in the way, and dreams get …

Social Issues

Food assistance is integral for families - but it's also important that the food available makes sense culturally. The American Heart Association …

The Castner Range contains cultural sites that document the history of Native tribes, while also providing habitat for wildlife such as the golden eagle, mountain lions and the western burrowing owl. (Dale/AdobeStock)

Environment

A celebration will be held in El Paso Friday after five decades of activism paid off, when President Joe Biden designated Texas' Castner Range a …

Social Issues

The Iowa Senate has advanced a bill to outlaw handling a cellphone while driving. The state already has a distracted driving law, but it allows …

Social Issues

With an average hourly wage of under $15 in 2021, many Nebraska agricultural workers would be hard-pressed to afford an attorney if they needed one …

 

Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021