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Understanding parental rights during marriage and separation in Ohio

In Ohio, parents are generally given broad authority in making decisions for their children's medical treatments, but this right does not necessarily extend to life-and-death situations.
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    February 06, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Understanding parental rights during marriage and separation in Ohio

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Parental rights are something that many parents in Ohio may take for granted or rarely think about. The issue of parents' rights, however, has recently been brought to public attention by the story of an Ohio family that went into hiding after a court overruled parental rights to make decisions regarding the child's medical treatment. Although the case is unusual, it does provide an opportunity to remind parents in Hamilton County of their parental rights both during marriage and in the event of a separation.

Family flees mandated medical treatment

According to Minnesota's Star Tribune, an Amish family went into hiding in 2013 after an Ohio court ordered that a member of the family undergo chemotherapy treatments. The 11-year old girl had initially undergone treatments after being diagnosed with leukemia. Unfortunately, the treatments made her very sick, and her parents decided to stop them, even after being warned that the girl could die within one year without chemotherapy.

In Ohio, parents are generally given broad authority in making decisions for their children's medical treatments, but this right does not necessarily extend to life-and-death situations. An Ohio judge initially found that the parents had the right to make medical decisions for the girl. However, an appeals court later ruled that a guardian needed to be appointed, because the state's right to protect the child outweighed the parent's decision-making rights. The parents fled with their daughter after the guardian recommended that treatments be continued.

Although this case was unusual, it brings up the important issue of parental rights in Ohio. Parents are given authority in making decisions regarding the upbringing of their children, including education and medical treatments, but occasionally these rights have limits. One common situation that can lead to changes in parental rights and responsibilities is divorce.

Parental rights during divorce

According to the Ohio Code, it is the responsibility of the court to allocate parental rights and responsibilities when parents divorce. When deciding whether to award shared custody or order another arrangement, the court may consider factors like:
-The preferences of the child.
-The physical and mental health of each parent.
-The ability of each parent to encourage the child to have a positive relationship with the other.
-The willingness of each parent to follow the court's guidelines for parenting time.

If both parents are considered fit and have submitted a shared parenting plan, the court may grant shared parenting rights and responsibilities. Otherwise, the court will designate a residential parent who enjoys primary responsibility for the child, while the other parent maintains rights such as parenting time. If there is evidence that time with a particular parent is not in the best interests of the child, the court may significantly curtail the rights of that parent.

It is easy for parents to take their basic parental rights for granted. However, parents should recognize that there are some situations in which their decision-making or parenting time rights may be challenged. Occasionally, a child custody dispute or an unusual story like that of the Amish family emphasizes the importance of understanding these rights.

If you are preparing for a divorce or otherwise dealing with an issue that may affect your parental rights, you should speak with an attorney. An attorney can help you defend your rights and find the arrangement that will most benefit your child.

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