This Article was written by Cris Beers of The Massillion Indepandant.....Dated May 20 1998

Legislation that would set up a task force to study Ohio's current family court practices and how that affects the parenting of children awaits the governor's signature after being unanimously approved by the Ohio House. Senate Bill 112, which was co-sponsored by Rep. Johnnie Maier, D-Tuscarawas Township, will set up a task force to take a closer look at the state's current custody and visitation laws affecting children whose parents are seperated and divorced. "The purpose of Senate Bill 112 is to find ways in which we have a more civialized and constructive process for the parenting of children whose parents no longer reside together," Maier said. "The intent of Ohio law is to always act in the best interest of the child, and nothing is more fundamentally important then the parent-child relationship," added Maier. "We should make sure that parents can meet their responsibilities with as little court intervention as possible. In short, we want to ensure that custody and visitation laws are used in the best interest of the child and not as a means of revenge between parents." The bill requires the courts to cooperate with the task force. Once the task force completes its investigation, it will submit its findings to the House and Senate leadership by Dec. 31, 1999. The bill also outlined several general principles for the courts and parents to consider when allocating parental rights and responsibility. The best interests of the children are defined as a parenting arrangement that provides the best for a child's safety, emotional growth, health, stability, and physical care. Children should be exposed to harmful parental conflict as little as possible. Also, parenting arrangements should be made between the parents, and not the courts. A court should not impose a schedule concerning with whom the child should be with holidays, vacations and other days of special importance unless it is better than any alternative parenting plan.