Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Butler
FROM BUTLER COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS DOMESTIC RELATIONS
DIVISION Case No. DR2014-11-1167
R. Washington, for appellee
N. Blauvelt, for appellant
1} Appellant, Phillip Mack ("Father"),
appeals the decision of the Butler County Court of Common
Pleas, Domestic Relations Division, denying his request to be
designated as his son's residential parent for school
purposes. Father also appeals from the domestic relations
court's decision modifying his parenting time schedule
with his son. For the reasons outlined below, we affirm.
and Procedural History
2} On November 23, 2015, Father and appellee, Karla
Mack ("Mother"), were divorced. The parties have
one child, I.M., who was five years old at the time of the
divorce. Following their divorce, the parties were subject to
a separation agreement and shared parenting plan. As relevant
here, the shared parenting plan provided Father with
parenting time and designated Mother as I.M.'s
residential parent for school purposes. It is undisputed that
Mother has retained that designation at all times relevant.
3} Following their divorce, both parties moved out
of Ohio to pursue other employment opportunities; Father
moved to Pennsylvania in late 2016 while Mother moved to
North Carolina with I.M. in the summer of 2017. Since moving
to North Carolina with Mother, I.M. began attending school in
Mother's local school district. While there, I.M. has
made friends and has participated in school sports. I.M. has
never attended school in Ohio.
4} On December 8, 2017, five months after Father
moved back to Ohio, Father filed a motion requesting the
domestic relations court to modify the parties' shared
parenting plan by designating him as I.M.'s residential
parent for school purposes. In support, Father argued the
modification would provide I.M. with a "structured
environment" and allow him "more contact with
extended family members" located in Ohio. Father also
moved the domestic relations court to modify the parties'
parenting time to coincide with his and Mother's work
5} On December 28, 2017, a hearing on Father's
motion was held before a domestic relations court magistrate.
Both Father and Mother testified at this hearing. After
taking the matter under advisement, the magistrate issued a
decision modifying the parties' shared parenting plan by
designating Father as I.M.'s residential parent for
school purposes. Despite Father and Mother living
approximately nine hours apart, the magistrate also modified
the parties' parenting time by awarding Mother parenting
time with I.M. on alternate weekends.
6} Mother filed a number of objections to the
magistrate's decision. Mother's objections challenged
the magistrate's decision designating Father as
I.M.'s residential parent for school purposes and the
magistrate's decision modifying the parties'
respective parenting time. After receiving Mother's
objections, the domestic relations court held a hearing on
the matter. Just as they had done at the hearing held before
the domestic relations court magistrate, both Father and
Mother testified at this hearing.
7} On August 2, 2018, the domestic relations court
issued a decision that affirmed in part, reversed in part,
and modified the magistrate's decision. As pertinent to
this appeal, the domestic relations court rejected the
magistrate's decision designating Father as I.M.'s
residential parent for school purposes. The domestic
relations court also rejected the magistrate's decision
regarding the parties' respective parenting time
schedules, opting instead to implement a parenting time
schedule that was dependent on where Father was then
stationed for work.
8} Specifically, when Father's employment placed
him within 50 miles of Mother's residence in North
Carolina, the domestic relations court ordered:
[Father] shall be able to exercise parenting time when within
50 miles of [Mother's] residence in North Carolina upon
24 hour notice. If [Father] is in the area overnight and has
a suitable place for [I.M.] to stay, he may keep [I.M.]
overnight for as long as he is in the area, up to seven days.
As an exception to the transportation orders below, [Father]
shall provide transportation from his location to
[Mother's] residence if she is required to work.
Otherwise, the parties shall meet in the middle or alternate
9} And, when Father's employment placed him
within 100 miles of Mother's residence in North Carolina,
the domestic relations court ordered:
[Father] shall have alternate weekends if he is within 100
miles of [Mother's] residence, with seven days notice.
The weekends shall begin from after school on the last day of
school before the weekend, and end at 8 PM the evening before
school starts. This includes any long weekends.
10} The domestic relations court also established a
transportation order regarding Father's parenting time on
holidays and I.M.'s summer vacation. Specifically, the
domestic relations court ordered:
The parties shall meet in Weston, West Virginia, or another
agreed location located geographically between the
parties' residences. If [Father] is traveling for his
work, [Mother] shall agree to meet him halfway between his
work location and her residence, so long as the child does
not incur total travel longer than nine hours. [Mother] will
switch shifts to provide this transportation if necessary.
11} The domestic relations court explained that it
found these orders were in I.M.'s best interest because:
It is not in [I.M.'s] best interest to travel for the
approximate nine hours between the parents' residences
for less than three days of parenting time. The court has
fashioned specific parenting time and transportation orders