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New York Child Relocation Attorney

After parties are divorced, or a Family Court custody matter is decided, the custodial parent may wish to move with the child. The non-custodial parent may object to this relocation because the move could effect the time the non-custodial parent spends with the child and could significantly effect the parent-child relationship.

If you are contemplating relocation, or your former significant other has informed you that they intend to relocate with your child, please call Peretz Family Law & Mediation, P.C. today.

The custodial parent has to petition the Court and has the burden to prove how and why moving the child's residence is in the best interest of the child. There are several factors that the Court must consider when deciding if the custodial parent can relocate with the child. The seminal case in New York jurisprudence is Tropea v. Tropea, 87 N.Y.2d 727 (1996).

The parties may have previously agreed that the custodial parent can relocate the child within a specified distance from their home. However, when the time comes and the parent wants to relocate with the child, that party still has to prove the relocation is in the "best interests of the child" (See, Eschbach v. Eschbach, 56 N.Y.2d 167) and (Friederwitzer v. Friederwitzer, 55 N.Y.2d 89) if the non-custodial parent challenges the move in Court. This is a difficult burden to meet.

I recently completed a relocation litigation, in which I advocated for the custodial parents' relocation with the grammar school age child from New York City to Georgia. The non-custodial parent was consistently involved in the child's life and vehemently opposed the relocation. The custodial parent was capable and was the child's primary caregiver. Despite factors that strongly challenged the relocation, we were successful and the Court granted the custodial parent's petition for relocation to Georgia.

When can the custodial parent relocate with the children? There are several common reasons for a proposed move:

Economic - the custodial parent has a job opportunity or it is more affordable and economical to move;

Remarriage - the custodial parent wants to remarry and relocate with the new spouse,

Family - being closer to other family members.

There is a trend in the law of relocation in the Appellate Division Second Department, which stresses the importance of the custodial parent encouraging a relationship between the child and the non-custodial parent. The court scrutinizes if it thinks the custodial parent has, and will continue to do so if the relocation petition is granted, welcomed and even encouraged the relationship between the child and the other parent. The willingness of the custodial parent to encourage the parent-child relationship with the non-custodial parent is crucial.

The law of relocation also closely examines if the relocation will enhance the child's life educationally, economically, and emotionally. It is very important to understand that the petitioner (the parent who seeks the move) has the burden to show how the relocation is in the child's best interests. This is typically a difficult task.

The potential factors effecting the decision of the Court to allow the relocation of the child are too numerous to list. Several factors for the Court to consider include:

  • the effect the move will have on the parenting time of the non-custodial parent
  • the impact on the custodial parent
  • the impact on the non-custodial parent's relationship with the child
  • can the non-custodial parent also move to remain close to the child
  • the previous agreement of the parties regarding relocation of the child
  • the disruption the move will have on relationships
  • the distance of the move from the child's current residence
  • the living conditions in the new location - schools, medical, family, extracurricular
  • the emotional toll the move will have on the child
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