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Lawmakers introduce bill to establish equal shared parenting in Ohio

Ohio Statehouse in Columbus.
Posted at 11:00 PM, Jun 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-23 06:43:10-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio  — Ohio lawmakers have introduced legislation that, if passed, would establish equal shared parenting for children of separated parents.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Thomas West (D-Canton) and Rep. Rodney Creech (R-West Alexandria), would establish a presumption that "equal shared parenting is in the best interest of a child, unless a court determines that such an arrangement would be detrimental to the child."

In Ohio, mothers are often awarded sole custody of a child, but lawmakers say fathers are just as important and that having both parents equally involved in a child's life is crucial for their success.

"I always have questioned why we did things the way we did. Why is it that we always award custody or full custody to the mother and not have the father involved?" West said. "I've seen the neighborhoods that have fathers that are in children's lives and the mothers and children's lives. And collectively, you had a stronger community as a result of that."

The presumption of equal shared parenting would apply in instances of legal separation, divorce, dissolution or annulment of parents' marriage, should the bill pass. Judges would have the chance to rebut the presumption when deemed necessary.

"Which means that if there is a situation [of] child abuse or violence or anything like that, the judge would have discretion to reduce the time," West said.

West and Creech were joined by Don Hubin and Elizabeth McNeese from the National Parents' Organization, a group that has advocated for similar legislation across the country.

Kentucky, Arkansas and Arizona have passed similar laws establishing a presumption of equal shared parenting in recent years.

The bill will be assigned to a House committee for consideration.

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