Ohio Laws on Child Relocation

December 14, 2016

Ohio’s laws on child relocation primarily come into play when a divorced spouse who has full-time custody decides to move. Parents who never marry may also find it necessary to comply with relocation laws because court orders regarding custody and parenting time come with a requirement to file notification of intent to relocate with the court that issued the orders. For instance, a parent who secured a divorce in Dublin, OH, must file the relocation notice with the Franklin County Court. These requirements exist in order to ensure that the noncustodial parent can enforce his or her parental rights, and also to ensure that the custodial parent will continue receiving support payments that must be redirected to a new address.

 The Basic Process

The controlling statutes do not set deadlines for notification of intent to relocate, but the expectation is that the custodial parent — the residential parent, in legalese — will do so a month or more before moving. When the court receives notice, it is obligated in most cases to alert the noncustodial parent. Three things can happen at this point:

  • The parent with parenting time or visitation rights can file a challenge to the relocation. This can be done even if the move has already been completed.
  • The court can challenge the relocation on behalf of the noncustodial parent or on behalf of the child.
  • Neither the noncustodial parent nor the court take any action, which allows the move to take place as intended.

 When a challenge to a relocation is filed, a family court judge will decide whether to sign off on the move based on whether it serves the child’s best interests. Questions that must be asked and answered with reference to financial, medical, and school records include

  • Will the child’s health care be disrupted by the move?
  • Will the child have access to good schools?
  • Will the child still be able to visit with his or her noncustodial parent and extended family?

Evidence from family members, social workers, teachers, physicians, and social services providers may be considered during a relocation hearing. A child who is old enough to speak in their own interest will also be asked how relocating might affect their well-being.

Both the custodial parent and the parent with visitation rights have undeniable rights to consult with and be represented by child relocation attorneys while the case is under consideration.

Possible Outcomes from Child Relocation Challenge

The family court judge hearing the case can

  • Permit the move without conditions.
  • Permit the move with adjustments to the parenting time schedule and/or child support agreement.
  • Ask the parents and the child (again, if he or she is old enough) to consider having the child move in with the noncustodial parent.
  • Order a change in which parent takes custody of the child.

Courts try to avoid that final possible outcome, preferring to have family member reach their own amicable and mutually beneficial child custody and parenting time arrangements. An empathetic child relocation attorney will also work with a client through negotiations and mediation sessions if such processes can keep a decision out of a judge’s hands.

A Note on Losing the Right to Challenge Child Relocation

A noncustodial parent can lose his or her rights to learn about and challenge a child’s relocation after being convicted of offenses like child endangerment or domestic violence. A parent falsely accused of threatening or harming his or her child may find it useful to consult with a family law attorney to learn what steps need to be taken to prevent a dismissed or dropped criminal charge from interfering with parenting rights.

You can speak with a Dublin child relocation attorney by calling Edward F. Whipps and Associates at (614) 461-4006. Consultations may also be requested online by completing this contact form.

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