What To Do When A Parent Relocates Before or After a Divorce or Dissolution

Relocation and DivorceWhat happens when an Ohio parent involved in a custody issue wants to move out of the jurisdiction of the court? This is a free country, and people can live where they want to. But there are going to be consequences if one of the parents of a minor child, either during or after a divorce, wants to move.

If the parents live in different jurisdictions before a divorce is filed, then, generally, the first parent to file the divorce will be the “home” court, and the case will proceed in the court where the divorce was filed. This is true if the parties live in different counties in the state of Ohio or one of the parties lives in a different state.

After the divorce is final, though, a different set of rules takes effect.

Under Ohio law, if one of the custodial parents then wants to move, the first step will be to file a notice of intent to relocate with the court that issued the custody order.  The notice of intent to relocate must include that parent’s new address unless this is otherwise prohibited by a court order.  The court will send a copy of the notice to relocate to the non-custodial parent.

The non-custodial parent will then have the opportunity to object to the relocation of the child (not the other parent). This request must be to the court in writing, and should be done with the assistance of a qualified attorney.

If a non-custodial parent objects to the relocation after receiving the notice of intent to relocate, the court in which the notice was filed will then schedule and conduct a hearing to determine whether a modification of the parenting time schedule may be made to accommodate the relocation.

For instance, if the custodial parent moves out west or down south, and the agreement is for visitation every other week, then the court can modify the visitation order to include scheduling like having the children spend a long summer vacation and most school breaks with a non-custodial parent.

Ohio law provides that a court may allow such a modification if it is determined to be in the children’s best interest. These changes can either be agreed to by the parents or imposed by the court.

There are several factors that a court uses to determine whether such a modification is in the children’s best interest under Ohio law.

These factors include, but are not limited to:

1) the reason for the anticipated move, such as employment opportunities or remarriage;

2) the distance that a relocation will put between the children and the non-custodial parent;

3) the involvement of the children’s extended family, such as grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins;

4) the non-custodial parent’s relationship with the children;

5) the parents’ ability to communicate and cooperate with each other about matters relating to the children; and

6) the financial, physical and emotional ability of the parents and the children to travel for parenting time purposes.

If an objection to the relocation is filed and a hearing is held, the court may either uphold the parent’s right to move with or without a change in visitation, or deny it outright.

A court can deny the request to relocate under Ohio law if the court feels that the move is not in the best interests of the children. This can happen for many reasons, including:

There is no legitimate reason for the move;

There is significant local involvement of the children’s extended family; and

There is evidence that the relocating parent is unable or unwilling to cooperate with the parenting schedule.

If the parent moves after the court denies the relocation motion, then that parent is in contempt of court, which would bring a different legal action.

If the custodial parent decides to move anyway, but without the children, the court may issue an order granting custodial rights to the original non-custodial parent, and parenting time to the other parent.  This means that the Court, after a hearing, can change the custody of the child to the non-relocating (local) parent, if the parent who intends to re-locate actually does so.

This highly complex area of the law needs the guidance of an experienced and trustworthy Ohio domestic relations attorney. The attorneys at S&Z have decades of experience in every kind of custody issue.  To learn more, please contact us by calling 1-800-297-9191 for a FREE Consultation with an experienced divorce lawyer or send us a Blog Message to schedule a time to talk.

To learn more about divorce, dissolution and family law issues, please visit http://www.dissolutionanddivorce.com.

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About slaterzurz

Slater & Zurz LLP is an Ohio law firm of highly experienced and respected attorneys. Over the last 40 years, we have developed a reputation for getting positive results for clients. We've been trusted with handling over 20,000 personal injury cases and our clients have received more than $120,000,000.

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