According to the Ohio State Bar Association, Ohio recognizes two forms of child custody: sole custody and shared parenting. In a situation in which the court’s award sole custody, one parent assumes the decision-making rights regarding the care and welfare of the child. In a shared parenting arrangement, the parents share decision-making responsibilities. Regardless of the type of custody the state awards, there is no guarantee that one parent will receive as much physical custody of the child as the other. What can divorcing parents do to increase their odds of obtaining a shared parenting plan and the majority of physical custody?

Like most states, Ohio considers the “best interests of the child” when determining living arrangements. This standard forces family court judges to consider several factors, the biggest of which include how comfortable the child is in each parent’s home, community and school; the mental and physical health of each parent; whether one parent plans to relocate post-divorce; whether either parent has difficulty communicating regarding the child; whether one parent has withheld visitation in the past; and the recommendation of the guardian ad litem. The courts may also consider the child’s wishes.

VeryWell Family details what parents can do to increase their odds of obtaining a favorable custody arrangement. For one, a parent should show up to court prepared. Preparation involves doing one’s homework and taking the time to understand the state’s custody laws. It also involves giving thought to possible living arrangements, informing oneself about the details of the child’s life (What is the child’s favorite subject, who is his or her best friend and what does the child like to do in his or her free time?) and preparing to facilitate an ongoing relationship between the child and other parent. A court’s ultimate goal is to ensure it acts in the child’s best interests. A parent can help his or her case by demonstrating he or she shares that goal.

To advance one’s interests, a parent should also plan on showing up to court armed with relevant documentation. This includes visitation logs (especially if the other parent consistently misses his or her visitation time), notes regarding the child’s behavior after a weekend with Mom or Dad and school records.

Witnesses do not hurt in custody cases either. Judges like to see that third-parties agree a person is a fit parent, so if possible, parties should enlist the help of family members, neighbors and teachers.

Finally, if a parent hopes to win the courts over, he or she should demonstrate proper court etiquette. This includes showing up to court on time and well-dressed and maintaining a pleasant attitude for the duration of the case.