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Mack v. Mack

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Butler

June 17, 2019

KARLA MACK, Appellee,
v.
PHILLIP MACK, Appellant.

          APPEAL FROM BUTLER COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS DOMESTIC RELATIONS DIVISION Case No. DR2014-11-1167

          Cheryl R. Washington, for appellee

          Scott N. Blauvelt, for appellant

          OPINION

          S. POWELL, J.

         {¶ 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.

         Facts 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 schedules.

         {¶ 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 transportation.

         {¶ 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 ...

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