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NPO Study Prompts Ohio Counties to Update Parenting Time Rules

July 16, 2019 by Don Hubin, PhD

ohio county map

When we think of success in promoting shared parenting, the image that often comes to mind is NPO’s stunning success in Kentucky. There, Matt Hale led a successful movement for a dramatic legislative change. In Ohio, we haven’t been able to duplicate this sort of shared parenting home run … yet! But a study that several of us undertook last year seems to be producing base hits.

In 2018, Frank Glandorf, Julie Carpenter-Hubin, and I reviewed the parenting time guidelines of each of Ohio’s county courts, grading these on the degree to which they promoted equal shared parenting. The results, presented in the NPO Ohio Parenting Time Report, were depressing but not surprising. Sixty-four of Ohio’s 88 counties were still locked into the “every-other-weekend-and-one-evening-a-week” model that dates from the Madmen era.

This approach to separated parenting has never been shown by scientific research to be beneficial to children and, even if there was a time when it made sense, we are far beyond that time. The work and parenting patterns of modern families are far different from those of the 1950s.

Shortly after the publication of the NPO study, there were already signs that it was having an impact. The lone county to receive an ‘F’ was surprised to find out that their guidelines specified that it was “Father” who was to have the every-other-weekend schedule. We know that when such a schedule is imposed, it is almost always father who is taken out of a full parenting role for the children. But courts weren’t supposed to say that out loud. The Van Wert magistrate was taken aback at the presence of the gendered language and indicated that the rule would be reviewed.

Several other county courts, or the bar associations in the county, let NPO know that they would be reviewing their guidelines, some seeking NPO’s input.

Now, we’re seeing the fruits of our efforts. We learned last week that two counties had changed their rules. One moved from a good, but not great parenting time schedule to one that presumes equal parenting time by both parents. Another moved from the old every-other-weekend schedule to present multiple options, one of which is at least a vast improvement over this schedule and two of which allow the children equal time with each parent.

In addition, NPO has just learned that the only Ohio county out of all 88 to earn an ‘F’ did more than remove its gendered language. It recently enacted a new parenting time rule that presents parents with multiple options, the very first of which allows the children equal time with both parents.

Those of us in Ohio will continue working for equal parenting legislation similar to Kentucky’s. But it’s worth remembering that while all home runs produce scores, there are ways to run up the score with base hits as well. Through different strategies, NPO is making a difference in children’s lives.

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