What Happens After a Juvenile Court Assigns Legal Custody to Someone Besides Me?

 In Family Law

The procedure and the factors a court considers are set out in the Ohio Law There is case law that further explains how this law is applied, but the statutes themselves at least will give the layperson a better understanding.

Juvenile Court statutes which discussing legal custody orders say: The Court shall consider whether it is in the best interest of the child. An order of disposition granting legal custody of a child to a person is intended to be permanent in nature. A court shall not modify or terminate an order granting legal custody of a child unless it finds, based on facts that have arisen since the order was issued or that were unknown to the court at that time, that a change has occurred in the circumstances of the child or the person who was granted legal custody, and that modification or termination of the order is necessary to serve the best interest of the child.

There are two really important things to note in the above, 1) That the order granting legal custody is “intended to be permanent in nature” and 2) that in order to grant any motion to modify the current order the court must make two additional findings.

The court must find that: 1) A change has occurred in the circumstances of the child – and 2) The modification or termination of the order is necessary to serve the best interest of the child (which has a special statutory meaning) This means that even if the parent that lost custody is doing better, the court is unlikely to modify custody where the child’s circumstances have not changed.  Proving that the child’s circumstances have changed AND that changing custody is in the child’s best interests often requires skilled representation.

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