Modifying Shared Parenting – If You Snooze You Might Lose

Modifying Shared Parenting.  I would categorize the case of Livermore v. Livermore, 2006-Ohio-485 under the section “if you snooze you loose”, or “strike while the irons hot”.  The basic facts of the case as outlined in the court of Appeals decision are as follows.

Modifying Shared Parenting:  Case Facts

The Father appealed the judgment of the Common Pleas Court of Crawford County, Ohio, denying his motion to name him the residential parent of the parties’ three minor children and find defendant Mother in contempt of court.  On November 15, 1999, the parties were divorced. The parties agreed at that time to a shared parenting arrangement regarding their three minor children, with a 9 month to 3 month split in which the children spent the school year with Mother in Florida and the summer months with Father, who resided in Ohio. Mother was designated the residential parent during the school year and James was designated the residential parent during the summer.

On March 15, 2001, the eldest child, Cory, came to live with Father, and in October 2003, the youngest child, Kimberly, moved to Ohio to live with Father also. The middle child, Ashley, lived with Mother at all times until the summer of 2004. Late in the
summer of 2004, Mother advised Father that Cory and Kimberly would be staying in
Florida with her for the next school year.  Father disagreed, and filed a Motion asking the Court to name him residential parent.

In addressing the issue of Modifying Shared Parenting, the trial Court denied Father’s Motion and the Court of Appeals upheld the trial Court’s denial.  The Court of Appeals reasoned that the purpose of a shared parenting plan is to provide the parties the necessary flexibility within the court’s order to act in concert in the best interests of their children. As all persons who have raised or are raising children know, matters will arise in the course of their development that cannot necessarily be predicted at the time of divorce. These issues may be educational, emotional, psychological or otherwise. Shared parenting allows divorced parents the ability to cooperate with each other to make parenting decisions as unforeseen needs arise.

Modifying Shared Parenting.  It appears that the Father did not file his Motion to be named residential parent until after the children had already re-enrolled and started back to school in Florida.  As a result he apparently lost the ability to persuasively assert the argument that since one of the children had already been attending school in his school district for 2 years, and one of the other children had been attending school in his school district for one year, why wouldn’t the Court just issue an Order formally recognizing what the parties had informally agreed upon.  However, as the Father waited as long as he did to file a Motion and start the case for custody, he lost the ability to make his best argument while the children were physically living with him in his school district.  It appears from the record that by the time the case came to trial, the children had all been residing in Florida with their mother.

So the lesson from this case is…If you snooze you might just lose, so strike while the iron is hot.

To read the full case, see

Modifying Shared Parenting – If you snooze, you might loose. Modifying Shared Parenting.