When a parent wants to move away with a child, whether to a different part of Ohio, to a different state or even to a foreign country, you want answers to many questions: How will custody and visitation arrangements change? If you are the noncustodial parent, how can you make sure you remain an important part of your child’s life? The method used to approach these questions is vital to shaping the answers that are eventually reached.
I am Cincinnati attorney Maury White, and I am steadfast in my belief that the either the Collaborative Process or mediation should be the method chosen to resolve relocation issues. This belief is based on nearly 35 years of family law practice, including more than 22 years as a litigator. Relocation is one of the most difficult things to manage after a divorce is finalized, but with the right approach, the issue can be resolved with dignity, respect and, most importantly, with the children’s best interests at heart.
Common Reasons for Relocation
There are any number of legitimate reasons a parent may want to relocate. But it is important to remember that the best interests of the children will always trump a parent’s desire to move. I represent parents who are seeking to relocate and parents who are seeking to prevent such a relocation.
Some of the reasons parents may wish to relocate include:
- A new job opportunity
- Educational opportunities, for the child or the parent
- Health reasons
Collaborative Law or Mediation as a Solution
Whether or not your parenting arrangements can be modified, will depend upon the circumstances of your situation and the wording of your prior divorce or dissolution decree.
If you have a shared parenting plan there will be a section in the plan which requires you to return to either Collaboration or mediation before resorting to family court.
In the vast majority of divorce cases, the parents end up with shared parenting, or as it is commonly known, joint custody. This is important because our society and our legal system want to encourage healthy relationships between parents and children, independent of whether the parents themselves can get along. If you go to court to fight over custody modifications, there is a risk that the battle could expose the children to unhealthy behaviors on the part of parents.
Rather than litigate the issue, I would encourage you to seek a Collaborative or mediated solution. I am ready to sit down with you, your former spouse and his or her Collaborative lawyer to reach an agreement that satisfies you and protects your children. Alternatively, I am available to serve as a neutral mediator. You and your ex-spouse can come to me, and I can help both of you lay out your concerns, understand each other’s point of view and reach a resolution. Either of these alternatives is likely to produce a much more satisfying, lasting agreement than anything a court could propose.