One of the most complex areas of family law is concerning child custody. The law is very strict in these areas as it has an obligation to protect the youngest citizens. However, the law is also confusing and may not be clear to parents about what rights they have and how to secure those rights.
According to the Ohio State Bar Association, Ohio, like many other states, stopped using the term custody when referring to children and parent relationships. Instead, the state refers to these relationships using the word parental rights. This change reflects an overall attitude change about how the law should handle the rights to parent a child.
Move away from winning and losing
The previous approach to child custody was that one parent would win and the other would lose. The winning parent would be the one with whom the children lived while the losing parent would get only the right to visit with the children on occasion.
This set up became an obvious issue as it often led to arguments over children. More important was that it caused problems for the children involved. The state made the decision to focus more on the child and less on the parents, and so it moved from custody to parental rights.
Current approach emphasizes equality
The current approach uses the term parental rights because it sounds more equitable than custody. The mindset is that both parents have parental rights whereas one parent has custody. By approaching these situations with a parental rights mindset, courts are better able to be fair and equitable.
Judges work with parents to do what is best for the children. The goal is to make parenting time as equal as possible between both parents so that children can develop meaningful relationships with them both. There is an overwhelming move to try to award joint rights between parents in all situations if possible.