Ohio News Connection:

New research on child custody policies in Ohio shows that families are receiving different treatment depending on their ZIP code.

According to the “Ohio Parenting Time Report,” research shows children fare better when they have equal time with both parents in cases of divorce or separation. While a handful of Ohio counties have parenting time rules aligned with this data, report co-author Donald Hubin, director of the Center for Ethics and Human Values, said the vast majority do not.

“Sixty-four of the 88 counties have parenting time schedules that are really of the 1950s or ‘Mad Men’ days’ model, where one parent will see the children for only 48 hours in a two-week period; so it’s every other weekend. And most of those counties allow also 2-3 hours’ mid-week parenting time.”

The report showed just three counties – Ashtabula, Jefferson, and Tuscarawas – provide default schedules that call for equal time.

Hubin said if child custody arrangements are handled properly, the negative effects of divorce or separation on children can be minimized. And the report noted that shared physical custody also is a best-case scenario when there is a lot of conflict between parents. Hubin said that’s surprising to a lot of people.

While statewide shared-parenting guidelines are ideal, Hubin argued counties should update their default plans to ensure they are supported by research and consider the best interests of the child.