Equal Access: Accessing my Child’s Records

When a parent does not have custody of their child, the custodian of the child can sometimes manipulate other people into believing that the non-custodial parent cannot be involved in certain ways. A common example of this is access to a child’s medical and school records.

Do I have a right to view my child’s medical and school records?

Under Ohio law, a parent has equal access to all records that would otherwise be available to the other parent unless otherwise ordered by the court. In general, a non-custodial parent has every right to access medical and school records as the custodial parent do. So long as there is not a court order saying otherwise, a record keeper may not deny this information to either parent and may be subject to contempt of court if they do refuse to provide this information.

What do I do if the record holder will not turn over the records?

As stated above, a record keeper can be held in contempt if they knowingly refuse to comply with this law. However, the issue may be the custodial parent’s communication with the record keeper. In some cases, the custodial parent will do everything in their power to exert control over the situation, including telling record keepers that the non-custodial parent may not have access to a child’s records. Custodial parents that are feeling vengeful can create difficulties for the non-custodial parent.

If you find yourself in this situation, begin by showing the record keeper a copy of the court order for the child and direct them to any provisions that say there is equal access to records. If this is not enough, you should get your attorney to speak to the relevant parties. Your last resort is to file contempt, usually against the custodian for failing to follow the provisions in the Court order.


The equal access law can be found in Ohio Revised Code 3109.051(H).


How do I protect myself financially once a divorce is filed?

How do I protect myself financially once a divorce is filed?

Once a divorce is filed, the court automatically issues what is called a mutual restraining order. This restraining order prohibits the parties from taking debts in the other’s name; disposing of or destroying assets; terminating insurance; changing beneficiaries; withdrawing, spending, or transferring funds in a bank; terminating household utilities; among many other actions. If a party violates the restraining order, the other party may ask the court to force the party to pay back the money lost and may award other damages.

Forcing the parties to leave bank accounts untouched is not practical for most people. The parties are expected to continue paying their household bills, in the same manner, they paid them during the marriage.  Sometimes it is best for the parties to each start a new, separate account and begins placing money in that account once the divorce is filed. This enables the parties to abide by the restraining order, but still have access to their money.

Another workaround to the restraining order is the temporary orders that can be put in place. (If you would like to read more about temporary orders, please click HERE). A party may ask the court to order their spouse to contribute to expenses and debts that the parties have incurred during their marriage. These debts can be as small as utility bills or can be as large as mortgages on a residence. Asking for contributions from the other party may help keep the status quo while the divorce is pending, so one party is not forced to be paying all debts during that time.


Divorcing with Children in Clermont County —What to Expect from the Court’s Court-Based Support Services

While courts in Ohio operate under the same statutes, each county’s Domestic Relations Court differs greatly in the services offered outside of litigation, and the procedures for each service. Because these services have the potential to drastically improve the overall time, cost, and outcome of your case, it is crucial that you hire an attorney who is familiar with and knowledgeable of the services offered. The Clermont County Domestic Relations Court currently offers the following services to assist families in the divorce and post-decree process:

  1. Family Service Assessment
  2. Mediation
  3. Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE)
  4. Guardian ad litem (GAL)
  5. Parental Investigation

Generally, these services can be ordered or requested at any point in the process, including before or after a divorce, as parenting issues arise. While all of these services offered are designed to help litigants, each service differs greatly in the role it plays in the court process.

Family Service Assessment

Depending on the information provided in the initial filings, your case may start with a Family Service Assessment with the Court’s Parenting Investigator. The Assessment takes place over the phone and allows each party the opportunity to express their wishes and concerns to the Investigator. Within seven days of the phone call, parties will receive a written, nonbinding recommendation regarding which of the offered services would benefit the parties based on their specific circumstances. At the initial pretrial, after receiving feedback from the parties (and/or their attorneys), the Court will determine whether to order any of the recommended services.

Mediation & Early Neutral Evaluation:

In the Clermont County Domestic Relations Court, both mediation and Early Neutral Evaluation are designed to facilitate a settlement between the parties. They are both confidential processes, and the Court staff who participate do not testify at your hearing. There is no additional cost for mediation or ENE services provided by the Court.

Mediation occurs between the parties and a Mediator with the purpose of reaching an agreement on parenting matters, such as custody, parenting schedule, holidays, travel, decision-making, religion, medical issues, schooling, extracurricular activities, expenses, etc. Mediation allows parents to be collaborative, creative, and flexible when discussing important parenting matters. It also ensures that parents, not the Court, are the decision-makers during your family transition. Attorneys and/or support persons may attend a mediation session if advance notice is provided and all parties agree. Any agreements reached in mediation do not become binding until submitted to and accepted by the Court. Mediation sessions generally last 2 hours, and parties participate in 1-3 sessions.

Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE) is a court-ordered dispute resolution process in which the parents are given a probable outcome of parenting-related litigation after an evaluation of their case. ENE can be especially helpful when one or both parents need a “dose of reality” regarding their case expectations. Once parents have received a neutral and informed opinion from an outside party, the goal is for parents and their attorneys to engage in more realistic and productive negotiations that ultimately lead to an agreement being reached.

ENE is only available to parties who are represented by an attorney. It consists of a single 3-hour session in which the Evaluators, both parties and their attorneys must participate. Prior to the session, parents must complete and submit a “Parenting Perspective Brief” which is shared with the Evaluators and the other parent. At the ENE session, each party and their attorney are given a designated amount of time to express what they are seeking concerning parenting and why. Once everyone has presented their side, the Evaluators will meet privately to discuss, followed by a discussion with the group to explain the Evaluators’ perceived strengths and weaknesses of each parent’s positions, and an overall prediction of what the outcome would be if the case were litigated. Similar to mediation, any agreements reached are not binding until they are properly documented, signed by the parties, and approved by the Court.

Parental Investigation & Guardians ad Litem:

Parental Investigations and Guardians ad litem are utilized to assist the Court in determining the child(ren)’s best interests when allocating parental rights and responsibilities, including custody and parenting schedules.

The Parental Investigation consists of an evaluation of each parent’s behavior, conduct, communication, family relationships, and criminal and Children’s Protective Services history. The parents are required to complete a parenting questionnaire, participate in an interview, and otherwise cooperate with the investigation. If the investigator feels it is necessary, they may interview the children and/or third parties such as teachers, doctors, or childcare providers. The Parental Investigation results in a final report which contains a recommendation to the Court regarding parenting. The report is admitted as the Court’s exhibit and as direct evidence. If either party wishes to cross-examine the Investigator, the Investigator must be timely subpoenaed by the requesting party. The Parental Investigation process takes approximately ninety days.

A Guardian ad litem (GAL) is appointed by the Court to represent and advocate for the best interests of your child(ren) until the case is closed. A GAL may be appointed upon request of either party or by the Court on its own accord. A GAL is responsible for:

(1) visiting your respective homes,
(2) meeting individually with the children and parents,
(3) speaking with family/household members and any other parties they deem necessary such as, teachers, counselors, doctors, friend,
(4) preparing a written report with recommendations related to custody, parenting schedule, and other parenting matters, and
(5) attending and participating in all hearings related to parenting.

Once a GAL has completed their investigation, a report is submitted to the Court (but not filed with the Court), and served upon the attorneys, or parties, prior to the trial. Oftentimes, parties and/or their attorneys are able to utilize a GAL report to facilitate a settlement. If a settlement is not reached, a GAL will testify on direct at the close of the trial and will be subject to cross-examination by both parties at the conclusion of their testimony.

The GAL deposit is $1,500, paid directly to the GAL either by one parent or split between the parents.  From the deposit, the GAL is paid $125 per hour for their billable time plus expenses.  The parents may be ordered to pay additional deposits as needed to pay the GAL fees and expenses. The GAL is required to provide a monthly statement of their fees to the parties (or their attorneys).

If you would like to learn more about these services and procedures, please visit:



  • DR 26. Medical/Psychological/Psychiatric Evaluations
  • DR 28. Family Service Assessment by the Court
  • DR 29. Appointment of Guardian Ad Litem (GAL)
  • DR 30. Mediation of Parenting Responsibilities
  • DR 31. Early Neutral Evaluation

How do I move residences with my child during a divorce or custody case?

How do I move residences with my child during a divorce or custody case?

During a divorce or custody matter, the court puts in place orders that restrain the parties from moving to another county with any minor children that are subject to the case at hand. A party is generally allowed to move to a different address within the County, so long as they file a NOTICE of Relocation with the relevant court. This serves to keep the other party aware of the residence of the child and it will update the Court’s computers for future mail from the Court.

A party may not move outside of the county with the minor child if there is an order involving the child in place unless the party files a MOTION to Relocate with the relevant court. This motion will need to be heard in court if the non-moving party disagrees with the child moving. Even if there is an agreement allowing a parent to move outside of the County, the parties still need to agree to new terms regarding transportation and parenting time.  If the parties are unable to agree on all terms, the Court will hold a trial and hear testimony.  The court will then make a decision based on what is in the best interest of the child and it will determine if the filing party may relocate outside of the county with the minor child.