Relocating After Divorce with a Child

Many people consider moving somewhere new after a marriage or relationship has ended. Whether they wish to be closer to family, move away for a better job, or start fresh somewhere else, relocation can be more complicated if there are children involved. Critically, Ohio law imposes strict requirements regarding relocation after divorce or dissolution with a child. Under the statute, a parent must usually provide notice of intent to relocate the residence of a child to the court — even if the move is within the same town.

Are You Allowed to Move Away With a Child After Divorce/Dissolution?

If you are considering moving away with your child after divorce or dissolution, or after a case concerning never married parents, it is essential to first review the terms of your parenting orders, local court rules, or agreement. These documents may contain language that limits your ability to relocate with a child or may prohibit changing the residence of a minor child altogether. This can make relocation matters much more complex.

In situations where there is one sole residential parent (commonly referred to as “sole custody” arrangements), that parent would not be restricted from relocating after divorce with the children unless there is specific language in the parenting order that states otherwise. In situations where both parents are residential parents under a Shared Parenting Plan, that Plan will detail the limits and steps involved in moving to a different residence with a child. The Plan could limit the geographical boundaries where a child can be moved without permission from the Court or the other parent, it could limit the time distance between the parents, and it could require advance notice of the new address.

Even if permission to relocate is not required by a previous divorce or dissolution decree or a parenting order that outright restricts moving the residence of children, Ohio law requires  a residential parent notify the court by law if that parent plans to move.

When is a Notice of Intent to Relocate Required?

Under Ohio law, a child’s residential parent must file a notice of intent to relocate if there is an intention to move to a location other than the address specified in the parenting order or decree. This document must be filed with the court that issued the original order, within certain time deadlines. The court will then mail a copy to the other parent and give the other parent an opportunity to object to the move.

If the other parent agrees to the relocation, the legal process is typically straightforward, concerning parenting time arrangements that might need to be changed if the distance between homes has changed.

But if there are any objections to the move, a hearing may be scheduled — and the parent seeking relocation will be required to show that relocation is in the best interests of the child. In evaluating the child’s best interests in a relocation case, a judge would consider a wide variety of factors, including the following:

  • The child’s relationship with each parent
  • The reasons for the move
  • The proximity between the parents after the move
  • Each parent’s ability to communicate and cooperate with the another
  • The effect of the move on the non-relocating parent’s time with the child
  • Educational opportunities for the child in the new location
  • Any health concerns for the child or either parent

Notably, there are specific local rules and timelines that must be adhered to in Ohio courts when it comes to filing a notice of intent to relocate with a child — and it’s important to understand the applicable procedures in your jurisdiction. In both Stark County and Summit County, a parent must provide 30 days advance notice if the move is within the county, 60 days advance notice if the move is within the State of Ohio, and 90 days advance notice if the move is out of state. The non-relocating parent has 14 days to object to the reallocation of parenting time.

Is Litigation Always Necessary if You Plan to Relocate with a Child?

Litigation isn’t always necessary if you intend to relocate with a child after divorce or dissolution or parenting order. You may be able to reach an agreement with the other parent outside of court rather than let a judge decide the outcome of your case. In such instances, the parents would file an agreed judgment entry with each party’s notarized signature, submit it to the Court for approval, and if approved by the Court, no hearing would be required. If the parents agree that relocation is in the best interests of their child, they can work together to modify the parenting plan or parenting time schedule that is in place by themselves or by using the mediation process.

Sometimes, a non-residential parent might consent to relocation, but the parents may have difficulty reaching an agreement regarding a new parenting time arrangement. Mediation, neutral evaluation, or parent coordination can help the parties reach a resolution that works best for them and their family.

Through any of these methods, a neutral will assist the parties with facilitating open communication to resolve any disagreements, and help them reach a resolution regarding a new parenting agreement. The mediation process is informal, confidential, and low conflict. Not only can mediation be useful to maintain an amicable relationship  between the parents, but it can also help parents reach creative solutions concerning their parenting time agreement that might not otherwise be achieved in the courtroom.

Contact an Experienced Ohio Divorce and Family Law Attorney

If you are considering relocating after divorce with your child, it’s vital to have a knowledgeable divorce and family law attorney who can guide you through the legal process. Located in Green, Ohio – halfway between the Akron and Canton courthouses – Melissa Graham-Hurd & Associates, LLC provides compassionate counsel to clients for parental rights matters and helps to ensure the best interests of their children are met. Contact Melissa Graham-Hurd and Associates to schedule a consultation to learn how we can help.