Negotiating child custody arrangements can be one of the most challenging aspects of a divorce proceeding, especially as emotions tend to run high. Most judges will seek to grant some combination of shared legal and physical custody with an arrangement that allows the child to spend quality time with each parent, promote secure attachments, and encourage the development of the child’s self-esteem. In most cases, if the parents live within a short distance of one another, joint physical custody is relatively easy to manage. However, what happens when one parent plans on relocating a significant distance from both their ex and child? Let’s take a look at how Ohio courts view non-custodial parent relocation rights and what you can expect from the process.
Ohio Joint Custody and Relocation Laws
Like most states, Ohio has laws in place that restrict a parent from moving a child to a different county or state without the court’s formal approval. The court takes these issues very seriously—if a parent relocates the child without obtaining permission, this is a punishable offense that could lead to steep fines or even jail time. Additionally, the judge may decide to award full custody to the other parent if the move is deemed a serious disruption to the child. To avoid these severe consequences, the parent intending to relocate must file a Notice of Intent to Relocate with the court and also send the notice to the other parent.
The Approval Process
In every state, judges try to focus on the child’s best interests in any custody matter. In relocation cases, judges will look at a variety of factors, including whether this move is voluntary or involuntary and the extent of each parent’s involvement with the child. Additionally, the judge recognizes that, should the custodial parent relocate the child to another state, the noncustodial parent will significantly reduce face-to-face quality time with the child. Whatever the specifics of the situation may be, the court will strive to find a fair outcome that best supports the child’s interests.
Negotiating With Your Ex-Spouse
If you and your ex are on the same page about the out-of-state move, then you can both have an attorney prepare an agreement allocating the new parenting time schedule and submit it to the court. In instances where both parties disagree, you can work with a mediator to reach an agreement.
However, if you cannot reach an agreement, the parent receiving the Notice of Intent to Relocate and challenging the move must petition the court to decide the outcome. No matter which route you take, it’s highly advisable to work with a knowledgeable child custody attorney who can help you present your concerns and achieve an equitable outcome.
If the child is of a certain age, he or she may offer their own input on the relocation matter, but their wishes may not be fully followed if a more suitable option for their interests is determined.
If you or your ex-spouse is planning to relocate with your child, the experienced family law attorneys at Garretson & Holcomb, LLC are here to help. Call our West Chester office today at (513) 863-6600 to make an appointment with a dedicated and skilled lawyer.