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June 18, 2006

On Wednesday, I had a post about the 8th District's decision in in re J.C., discussing the portion of the decision concerning access to agency records of child abuse in a custody proceeding.  The court rejected the father's attempts to obtain the records, finding that his allegations were "of a kind that is, sadly, all too common in custody cases."

That wasn't the only thing sad or common about the case.  The father had filed a motion seeking custody because of alleged visitation violations, the mother had then filed a motion to relocate her and the children to California, and then had done so before the court could rule on it.  The trial court granted temporary custody to the father, then ultimately reversed itself and gave the children back to the mother in California. 

To its credit, the 8th District reversed, finding that the lower court had given insufficient consideration to the devastating effect that relocation would have on the father's parenting rights, and remanded the case for that purpose.  Judge Calabrese, concurring and dissenting, would have gone further:  he would have awarded the father custody.  As he put it,

The crux of this case is the best interest of the children and whether the harm outweighs the advantages of the change in environment. In my opinion, what is in the best interest of any child is to have a relationship with both parents.

The mother in this case blatantly interfered with the children's  relationship with their father by moving them across the country, making shared parenting impossible. I find it hard to believe that she had the best interest of her children in mind when she violated the terms of the custody agreement. Her self-absorbed and spiteful actions amount to "harm" that outweighs any sunshine California may have to offer these children. They need their mother and their father. If the mother chooses to relocate herself to California and leave her children behind in Ohio to be raised by their father, so be it. She is free to move wherever she likes, but she is not free to violate a shared parenting plan by taking the children away from their father without the court first considering what is in the best interest of these children.

As far as I'm concerned, that's right on the money.

Happy Father's Day.

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