In the state of Ohio, child custody agreement modifications may be requested at any time by parties who have previously established such in a prior court hearing.
If both parties are in agreement to a modification, they may simply pay a filing fee and submit the required affidavits and written agreement to the court for approval. This request can be either a modification to the original agreement, or a complete replacement of the original agreement. Regardless of which one is filed, all forms must be filed in the county in which the original agreement was entered.
Custody modifications for which both parties are not in agreement are considered a contested matter, and become more difficult to navigate. In this situation, the party requesting modification must file a Motion with the Court detailing the specific modification requested. Further, the requesting party will be required to show a significant unforeseen change in circumstance which will affect the original agreement. He or she must also prove that the modification will be in the best interest of the children should the court grant the request.
In contested cases, a third-party known as a Guardian Ad-Litem will be appointed to solely represent the best interests of a child. He or she will be responsible for investigating all parties and circumstances involved, and reporting back to the court his or her determination of what would be best for the child. This report can hold great value in a court’s decision on custody modification.
Currently in the state of Ohio, a contested child custody modification request can take anywhere from six to nine months to complete. A child custody attorney can help a party navigate these complex matters, making sure they are treated fairly and justly. Further, in cases where a GAL has been appointed, an attorney can be invaluable in maintaining open lines of communication. Most court-appointed GALs are attorneys as well.
Source: Ohio State Bar Association, “What you should know about changing custody agreements in Ohio,” Nicholas W. Yaeger, June 13, 2016