Changes Announced to Tuscarawas County Standard Parenting Time Order-Mediation Program

The Tuscarawas County Court of Common Pleas, General Trial Division, recently announced changes to the court’s Standard Parenting Time Order

Elizabeth Stephenson, Court Administrator noted the changes were executed in an effort to help the local roles of practice be more easily understood and located.

“The court has an ever-increasing number of litigants who are not represented by counsel so making the local rule more easily navigated will help those users and any attorneys who are unfamiliar with them,” she explained.

Officials explain the court’s Standard Parenting Time Order has been ‘revamped’ as well as now allocates the time between two divorcing parents more equally and includes difference schedules for different age groups.

The new approach was designed by the court upon a tool provided by the Supreme Court of Ohio, Planning for Parenting Time – Ohio’s Guide for Parents Living Apart.

The judges and I are eager to utilize this new schedule as it better addresses parenting time by putting both parents on a more equal footing instead of having one parent as the primary caregiver” added Magistrate Karen Zajkowski. “This schedule will only be used when parents can’t agree on a schedule. That is always best for a family.”

Changes can be below or by clicking here.

A Tuscarawas County Mother explained this change directly affects her family.

To say I’m overwhelmed with emotion is absolutely an understatement. We’ve prayed for this day. Not just me, and my family but families across the nation,” she said.

“I was lucky growing up, not because my parents were divorced but because they never used us to get to one another. We always knew the days we were with our mom and which days we would go to our dad. They split that time with us equally. My dad would swing the door open at my mom’s. I’d jump in to his arms, with my face pressed against his cold black leather jacket, I was happy to see him and he to see us,” she added.

“The biggest thing this change will bring is that a child will have EQUAL time with each parent after age three. The courts are taking the control from one parent and splitting it between the both of them. In the mix of emotions of the adults, it’s often forgotten that the child not only misses their mother and father but their siblings and step parents.”

She went on to say, “It’s a very sad day when it takes a court to have to set a visitation schedule for your child because the parents in the situation can’t be mature enough to recognize the needs of the children, but the court system got it right this time! When you pray for a change, watch God move a mountain.”

Others out there however; remain in opposition. Some argue this is unfair.

That isn’t the only change the court is announcing.

Pre-divorce help is also now available from the Mediation Program. Married people can ask to have a free mediation conference before filing a divorce or dissolution so that they can try to work on a resolution of the property division and child-related issues with the help of the court’s mediator, Attorney Andrea Fischer-Immke.

“Before this change, only parties who have already filed a case could use our program. Now parties who need help resolving issues before a dissolution (a settled divorce under Ohio law) can use the program,” explained Fischer-Immke.

Officials note however; certain circumstances are not appropriate for mediation, for instance if there has been domestic violence between the parties.

A form will soon be available on the mediation section of the court’s website so that parties or attorneys can request this pre-litigation mediation.

Elizabeth Stephenson, Court Administrator of the Court of Common Pleas, General Trial Division, added “We are excited about this new service, and we will be one of the first courts in Ohio to offer this level of assistance. It might reduce the number of contested divorce filings in our court.”

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Michaela Madison Reporting


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