Are you shared parenting material?

Most of the questions I get from parents are about shared parenting: what it means; do I still get (pay) child support; will my child like it; and so on. Shared Parenting is the Varsity team of parenting in Ohio. Here are three questions to ask yourself before you consider a shared parenting arrangement in Ohio.

A Crash-Court in Ohio Custody Law

There is nothing in the Ohio shared parenting statute concerning vaccinations. I have found it to be a timely litmus test of whether shared parenting is likely to succeed.
In the traditional shared parenting plan, neither parent has the “veto” or power to make the final decision on decisions affecting the well-being of the children. Unless the shared parenting plan specifically states that one parent has “final decision-making authority,” then all medical decisions must be agreed upon.

This county is divided over the issue of Covid vaccines and both sides are contentious about their beliefs. If you and your spouse cannot amicably work through disagreements, then shared parenting is unlikely to succeed.  Talking about Covid vaccines at the time of the divorce is a good idea to gauge the level of agreement with your partner-parent and to test how you resolve differences.

I. Do you and your partner-parent agree on Covid vaccines?

The parent must establish that their wishes about vaccines are in the child’s best interest. When the issue is technical, expert testimony will be required. The Court is unlikely to accept an internet warrior’s individual research or passionate opinion. Instead, objective testimony from the child’s pediatrician and official publications will be given great weight.

The Court is likely to consider the child’s wishes and inquire as to the child’s reasoning. The Court will be interested in whether all vaccines have been previously opposed by either party; whether the parents have previously agreed on vaccines; and any true medical exemptions the child may have. Whether the parents themselves have been vaccinated will be relevant.

II. How Well do You Tolerate Last Minutes Changes or Tardiness?

Once again, the Ohio statutes do not dictate what is reasonable in terms of last-minute changes or tardiness.  The standard order of parenting time of each court is usually referenced in the shared parenting plan, and these standard orders usually only state that there is no requirement to wait beyond 30 minutes and only describe the circumstances when make-up parenting time can be required. 

If you are always late, or always changing the schedule, you need a parent-partner who can tolerate uncertainty. If you sit by the door with a stop-watch, you probably will be miserable post-divorce.  You and your partner-parent need to discuss how each of you will respond to the other’s habits and reach some level of compromise, or at least resignation.

III. Do you accept that child support is not just for the “CHILD!”

If you earn more than your partner-parent, then you will probably be subject to a child support order.  Child support is designed to keep the standard of living at each parents’ house as equal as possible. Child support is not the cost of just keeping the child alive. Rather, it is intended to cover the basics of food and clothing, as well as the increased overhead caused by another person living in the household: the bedroom, the electricity, the Disney subscription, and other items of indirect costs.

In-kind contributions are sometimes used in lieu of child support. This usually means one parent pays specific costs, such as drivers’ education, or school clothes, or band uniforms. Again, parenting is shared, and expenses must be shared at some level as well.

Shared Parenting is the Varsity team of parenting.