Custody hearings are one of the most emotional and stressful processes when legally dissolving a relationship. However, they don’t end after that last court date, when the judge signs the divorce order. If one parent decides to relocate, especially at a considerable distance, they must take further steps. And moving across state lines is not uncommon here in the Tristate area. Learn how moving to a new state affects Ohio child custody arrangements so that you can prepare.
Notice of Intent to Relocate
Let’s say you’re a custodial parent living in Ohio. If you plan to move to another state, even nearby like Indiana or Kentucky, you must file a Notice of Intent to Relocate. File it with the same court and in the same county that heard your custody case. Although it may seem as if there’s no difference between Hamilton County child custody laws and another county in a neighboring state, this is a requirement. If your current custody order contains any limitations pertaining to a future move, you must also file for the court’s permission to consider the Intent to Relocate. Include the relocation details and the reason for the move. Suggest a new, fair visitation schedule and include any changes to travel expenses.Additional future custodial issues will still be heard in Ohio, as long as the other parent still resides there. Otherwise, as with cases of divorce across state lines in Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana, you can change that once you meet residency requirements in the new state. Thus, you can eventually establish new jurisdiction for Kentucky or Indiana child custody. Relocation laws are similar if you need to address Kentucky child custody terms or Indiana child custody orders. You should file Intent at least 90 days before the move date, even if the non-custodial parent hasn’t been following the visitation schedule. Different rules may apply if you are the sole custodial parent, grandparent rights have been instituted, or if there are issues of domestic abuse. For circumstances such as these, consult with family law attorneys for representation. Non-custodial parents must also file for Intent to Relocate. If you are the primary physical custodian (the children live with you), and you move without filing or consent, the legal consequences range from fines, removing your custodial rights, and worse, jail time.
Custody Order and Hearing
Ideally, parents agree to the relocation and simply sign the documents for a modified custody order. The order is then entered into court and granted. However, if parties cannot agree to a change, the court will hear why. These proceedings work similarly to any other child custody hearing. The judge needs to determine what is in the best interests of the child(ren), and how the move affects:
- Visitation with the other parent and extended family
- Ties to the community (friends, school, extracurricular interests)
- Child’s own thoughts the distance from their other parent. Although 7 is the legal age for testifying, it’s not typically requested unless critical to the child’s safety and well-being. The judge may speak privately (but with attorney present) to children over the age of 14.
Objection to Moving to a New State
Sometimes parents disagree about whether one of them moving is good for their child. Whether you are the parent seeking to move, or the one objecting, present a clear and detailed argument. As the one moving, explain why relocation is important. You may struggle to justify that you just want a change of scenery or to accommodate a new relationship. Courts cannot categorically deny you the right to move; it does become a more appealing case, however, if it’s due to:
- Employment and stronger financial stability
- Better schooling
- Being closer to family, to assist with childcare
- Better healthcare if the child has a medical condition
- Tending to an ill family member
Parents who are served with the Relocate requests have 60 days to file consent or objection. Reasons to object include:
- The move seems to be an attempt to deliberately limit or deny visitation
- You believe that the child(ren), particularly teens, dislike the idea
- The move will severely affect your ability to see your child(ren)
- You want a change in primary physical custody, so the child(ren) can maintain residency and community ties
Shared Parenting Laws
In April 2017, Kentucky signed the Shared Parenting Law, House Bill 492. It states that quality time with both parents is best for a child. It is the default temporary custody order until full proceedings are heard, during which each parent must agree to file for that provision. Custody orders already in effect prior to July 1, 2017 are not affected unless requested. Also, it will not be declared if there is evidence of child neglect or abuse. Ohio offers but does not mandate Shared Parenting. For Indiana child custody concerns, the court generally refers to the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines. If necessary, the judge will also consult the “Parenting Time When Distance is a Major Factor” section. He or she may add extra time to the visitation schedule, to take advantage of your ex or your children being near each other because of travel or other circumstances. This law may be taken into consideration during your modified child custody hearing for moving to another state. Ultimately, the outcome depends upon the weight of each argument, and how everyone works together to maintain strong relationships with the children. PHOTO: Nicolas Huk / CC-BY 2.0