‘Equal Shared Parenting’ May Soon Become Ohio’s Norm


A Republican state representative from West Alexandria, Rodney Creech, is introducing legislation in the Ohio House of Representatives that would change the way child custody cases are decided in Ohio. If passed, the law would change courts’ approach to family law in Cincinnati and elsewhere across the state.

If the new bill is passed, then any contested childcare arrangement would begin in the default position of “equal shared parenting,” and would only change from that if a judge saw clear evidence that equal parenting would be in the child’s best interest.

A group called the National Parents Organization – originally called the Foundation for Fathers and Families – led the action to getting similar legislation passed in Kentucky back in 2018.

As for Rep. Creech’s involvement in the change to Ohio’s child custody laws, the topic is personal for him. He told the Dayton Daily News that, “I was in a very, very contentious battle, and the majority of the tension was from the courts keeping the kids from me. I’ve got my kids 50-50 now, but you lose six or seven years of your life proving that you’re a good person. This bill… instead of you having to prove you’re a good parent, the courts have to prove you’re a bad parent.”

At Wake Forest University, researcher Linda Nielsen looked at 40 studies concerning divorces and the outcomes for the children involved. Nielsen argued that physical health, mental stability, behavior, and academics all turned out more favorably in situations where equal parenting was the child custody outcome.

Not every state has embraced this type of equal shared parenting law. In Minnesota and Florida, the states’ governors vetoed bills on this topic. In North Dakota, the state legislature voted it down. In Illinois, their state bar association opposed a similar bill.

Rep. Creech introduced the proposed new Ohio legislation in June 2021, alongside Democratic state representative Thomas West from Canton.

The Ohio Legislative Service Commission worked on drafting the language of the law. In it, the default arrangement would be for the separated or divorced parents to share custody and decision-making power equally over their children.

If the bill becomes law, judges would still be able to limit the amount of time one parent would be allowed to spend with the child in the custody agreement, but that limitation could only come if someone presents clear and convincing evidence that anything other than 50-50 time would be in the child’s best interest.