The Wishes Of The Child's Parents Regarding The Child's Care
In divorce cases, this factor does not favor one parent or the other as if both parents are in court seeking custody, both parents wish to be named the child(s) custodian. In Juvenile court this comes up as for example, a non parent is seeking custody of a child and one of the parents supports that non parent as having custody.
The Child's Wishes
Contrary to popular belief, children (regardless of their age) do not get to simply choose where they want to live. The wishes of the child is one of the factors the court considers. The general belief people have is that if the child is 12 years old or older, they may simply choose where they want to live. I often have cases where, for example, a teenager knows they can 'run the streets' at the other parents house, so they state they want to go live with that other parent. Children do not always make the best choices. Thus, it would not make sense that they may simply choose where they want to live. Their wishes combined with what is in their best interest is what the court attempts to decide.
The Child's Interaction and Interrelationship With The Child's Parents, Siblings, and Any Other Person Who May Significanlty Affect....
This factor is much broader than the first two factors above. The court will consider the child's relationship with other people involved in their life. The most obvious relationship the court will examine is between the child and their parents. The court will also examine the child's relationship with their brothers and sisters and any other person significant in their life. This may involve friends, grandparents, etc.
The Child's Adjustment To The Child's Home, School, and Community
This factor may be even broader yet. The court will consider how the child is behaving (or adjusting) at home. The court will look at how the child is doing in school (are there behavior issues, how is the child's grades, is the child involved in extracurricular activities, is the child getting to school on time or is the child missing school, etc.). The court will consider how long has the child lived in the community they currently reside, does the child play sports or other community activities, how does the child feel about his community, school, home, etc. and does the child seem well adjusted there. The court may consider whether the child has friends or teammates in the neighborhood and what does the child do in their free time.
The Mental and Physical Health Of All Persons Involved In The Situation
The parties may ask the court to order psychological evaluations to determine the mental health of the other parent. In addition, the parties may seek to introduce evidence of the other parent's physical health. If one parent is suffering from some type if mental health issue that prevents or hampers their parenting ability, the court will consider that. The court will also consider if a parent is suffering from some physical ailment that prevents them from being able to parent the child. I have experienced this in cases where it is shown that one parent is actively involved with the child and takes the child outside for physical activity such as walking, bike riding, etc. whereas the other parent allows the child to sit inside and play video games (this would be particularly important, if for example, the child was suffering from health problems associated with being overweight or leading a sedentary lifestyle).
The Parent More Likely To Honor And Facilitate Court-Approved Parenting Time Rights Or Visitation and Companionship Rights
This factor is fairly self explanatory. The court will make assumptions about which parent would be more likely to honor court ordered parenting time. The court would consider which parent seems to facilitate the relationship between the child and the other parent. The flip side of this is that the court would consider whether one parent seems to attempt to interfere with the relationship between the child and the other parent. This factor is more prominent in parental alienation cases but is a consideration to lesser degrees in many cases.
Whether Either Parent Has Failed To Make Child Support Payments
The court will consider whether a parent who has been ordered to pay child support has failed to make the payments. A person seeking custody of a child should be current on their child support obligation. However, this factor alone is not determinative. It is possible to be behind in child support but prevail on the other factors in the statute.
Whether either Parent Or Any Member Of The Household Of Either Parent Previously Has Been Convicted.........
This is a very serious factor for the court to consider. Obviously the court would not want to place a child with a parent or in a household with a parent if the parent or someone else in the household has pled guilty or been convicted of, for example, of domestic violence or some criminal offense involving harm to a child.
Whether The Residential Parent Or One Of The Parents Subject To A Shared Parenting Decree has
A parent who willfully and continuously denies the other parent court ordered parenting time is severely frowned upon by the court. Such behavior could result in the court awarding the other parent custody if the other factors support such a ruling.
Whether Either Parent Has Established A Residence, Or Is Planning to Establish A Residence, Outside This State
This factor is rarely an issue however, it does arise when one parent is residing in Ohio and the other parent wishes to move out of state. The court would consider how far the other parent is moving, why the other parent is moving, how close of a relationship the child has with the non moving parent, etc.
Additional resources provided by the author
Ohio Revised Code 3109.04 Allocating parental rights and responsibilities for care of children