Family Law Glossary

General terms used in family law


Ohio definition includes only "parents who have failed to visit or maintain contact for more than ninety days" with the child.


a process in which a third person is designated to make a finding or provide a decision or award for the disputing parties. The process is adjudicatory in nature, but normally less formal than traditional litigation.


an individual who has not attained eighteen years of age.

"Child custody determination"

all decisions regarding the custody, allocation of parental rights and responsibilities, permanent, temporary, initial and modification orders. It does not include support or monetary obligations.

"Child custody proceeding"

a proceeding in which custody, physical custody, parenting time, or visitation with respect to a child is an issue." Domestic violence is included in the definition, as is divorce, separation, neglect, abuse, dependency, guardianship, parentage, and termination of parental rights. It does not include juvenile delinquency, contractual emancipation or enforcement.

“Child-support order”

a support order for a child, including a child who has attained the age of majority under the law of the issuing state or foreign country.

“Collaborative law”

a process in which parties engage attorneys to assist in the negotiation and settlement of their dispute. In most collaborative law models, attorneys are retained with the understanding that, in the event the dispute is not resolved and it appears the matter will proceed to litigation, the collaborative attorney will withdraw and the parties must retain other counsel to represent them in litigation or proceed on a pro se basis.


is the filing of the first pleading in a proceeding.


a process whereby the court may order parties to participate in counseling for a prescribed period of time, generally in an effort to preserve their marriage.


an entity authorized under law to establish, enforce, or modify a child custody determination.

“Early neutral evaluation ("ENE")”

a non-binding form of dispute resolution in which parties meet before a neutral third party who has experience in the subject matter being litigated. The neutral offers the parties a confidential opinion regarding the likely outcome of the case and an analysis of strengths and weaknesses of each side's arguments in an effort to give parties a realistic view of the case, identify issues, speed up discovery and encourage settlement.

Home state

where the child lived with a parent for at least six consecutive months immediately preceding the commencement of a child custody proceeding. Home state does not have the same meaning as domicile. It simply means the child must physically live in Ohio for six months. Ohio will not have home state jurisdiction until or unless a child has lived in the state for six consecutive months.

Initial determination

the first custody determination made concerning a child.

Issuing court

the court that makes the determination for which enforcement is sought.

Issuing state

the state where the custody determination is made.


as a child custody determination that changes, replaces, supersedes or is otherwise made after a previous determination concerning the same child, whether or not it is made by the court that made the previous determination.


a process in which a neutral third party helps the parties communicate and negotiate with each other to help them reach a voluntary agreement regarding their dispute by helping the parties clarify their positions and interests, identifying underlying concerns, and creating practical solutions for resolving their dispute. The mediator is not authorized to make a decision for the parties.

“Parenting coordination”

a child-focused dispute resolution process ordered by a court of common pleas or division of the court to assist parties in implementing a parental rights and responsibilities or companionship time order using assessment, education, case management, conflict management, coaching, or decision-making.

“Parenting coordinator”

an individual appointed by a court of common pleas or division of the court to conduct parenting coordination.


includes, but is not limited to, individuals, trusts, public and governmental entities.

Person acting as a parent

the person must have had physical custody for a period of six months and must have been awarded custody or claim a right to custody under state law.

Physical custody

physical care and supervision of a child.

“Spousal-support order”

a support order for a spouse or former spouse of the obligor.


a state of the United States, territories subject to jurisdiction of the United States, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.


an Indian tribe of Alaskan Native village recognized by federal or state law.


an order to take physical custody of a child.

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