New Published Case on Relocation and Primary Residential Parent Designation

New Published Case on Relocation and Primary Residential Parent Designation

The Kentucky Court of Appeals published a new case dealing with a decision to modify a couple’s timesharing schedule to designate the father as the primary residential parent instead of letting the children relocate from Kentucky to Mississippi with the mother.

Based on the record before the Court of Appeals the parties had a very contentious and litigious relationship since at least 2002 involving domestic violence allegations and dependency, neglect and abuse cases.  The court had previously granted the mother permission to relocate to Mississippi in 2009, but the mother later returned to Kentucky before filing a notice of intent to relocate in 2013 with the Jefferson Family Court.   The father then filed a motion to modify the visitation schedule to allow the children to reside with him most of the time and sought to prohibit the mother from relocating the children.

The Court in this case again reiterated the difference between a motion to modify custody and a motion to modify timesharing.  Specifically, the Court pointed out that the a change in primary residential parent is a request to change the timesharing not a modification of custody.  This is an important point because to modify custody, the pleading that is filed must be accompanied by appropriate supporting affidavits in order for the trial court to even have jurisdiction to hear the issue.  That is not the case in a motion to modify the primary residential parent where the parties share joint legal custody.

The Court of Appeals reviewed the facts of the record and it appeared that, while the mother seemed to remain locked in her ways of animosity toward the father and his relationship with the children, the father had submitted to anger management and other therapy to improve his skills as a parent.  Additionally, the Court seemed disturbed that the mother seemed unable to see how her actions affected her children.  This is an excellent example of how being petty and litigious can often blow up in one’s face.  Normally, you are much better off if you can present yourself to the court as the calm, stable parent who is willing to foster a relationship between the children and the other parent.  Ultimately, the Court of Appeals found that the the trial court did not abuse its discretion by refusing to allow the children to relocate with the mother.

Photo courtesy of Brian Turner

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