If you share custody of your children with a former partner, both parents must agree to an out-of-state move. Whether drawn by a new job offer in a nearby state or simply the need for a fresh start, the parent planning a move must notify both the court in his or her county and the other parent. 

When the parent who plans to stay in Ohio contests the move, the family court judge will make a determination. 

Factors in a relocation determination 

In general, Ohio courts favor keeping the child in a stable environment. Thus, the parent who wants to move must prove that relocation is in the child’s best interest. Factors that contribute to this decision include: 

  • Whether the child has a preference if he or she is old enough to express a decision 
  • The child’s adjustment to the current school and home environment 
  • Whether physical or mental health concerns exist for either parent or the child 
  • The distance from the other parent of the planned move 
  • The child’s current relationship with both parents, siblings and other family members 

Conversely, a parent contesting an out of state move can present evidence that remaining in Ohio is best for the child’s well-being. 

Custody hearings and parenting plan modifications 

In some cases, the parent who contests the move may also want to request primary residential custody. The judge will hear evidence that this type of change is in the child’s best interest. When a move receives court approval, the judge will determine a fair visitation schedule and update the parenting plan accordingly. Often, the parent who remains in Ohio will receive expanded visitation during school vacations to accommodate the distance. 

If you are facing divorce and have concerns that the other parent may move out of Ohio with the children, you can address this issue in your child custody agreement. For example, you can establish a custody agreement that requires court approval for any proposed relocation.