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Child Custody: Relocation Issues

Child Custody: Relocation Issues

After a couple obtains a divorce, circumstances will inevitably change, and the New York courts that deal with child custody issues are well aware of this fact. Sometimes, the custodial parent (the parent who has the children more of the time and receives child support) will want to relocate or move away with the children to a different county or even to a different state.

If the court believes that allowing such a move would be in the children’s best interests, the court may permit the move, even if it places a much greater distance between the children and the non-custodial parent. However, before a custodial parent relocates with the children, in most cases, he or she must first petition the court for permission.

If the parent has sole legal and physical custody, he or she may not need the court’s approval. Since the laws can be vague, it’s important to consult with an attorney before relocating with one’s children.

Understandably, a relocation application can impact the frequency of contact between children and their non-custodial parent. The court evaluates relocation cases very carefully before rendering a decision. Each case must be determined on its own merits and there are many factors, which a court will consider to determine the outcome.

Here are just some of the major factors that a judge will consider when deciding a relocation petition:

  • The reasons for the move.
  • The good faith of requesting or opposing the move.
  • The child’s relationship with each parent respectively.
  • The quality of the lifestyle the child would have if move permitted, or denied.
  • The child’s ties to school, extended family, friends, and the community.
  • The advantages of permitting such a move.
  • The actual child custody and visitation arrangement, not necessarily what is outlined in the child custody and visitation schedule.
  • The economic advantages of permitting the move.
  • The educational advantages of permitting the move.
  • The effect the move may have on extended family relationships.
  • What the child desires to do (based on maturity).

What Are the Possible Outcomes?

Relocation cases may have different outcomes; for example, the judge may decide that permitting the move would not be in the children’s best interests. In that case, a change in custody may be in order. This usually happens when the children have a strong bond with the non-custodial parent and he or she can provide a loving and stable environment for their children. If the children are older and do not wish to move, there is a greater chance of a change in custody; however, this is not guaranteed.

In some cases, the move is approved by the court, especially when the children have been out of contact with the non-custodial parent, or when the move will significantly benefit the children educationally and economically. Often, relocation applications are approved when a custodial parent is remarrying and improving his or her circumstances significantly.

Other times, a parallel move is in order. In these situations, the non-custodial parent decides to move too. This will typically occur when the non-custodial parent is close to the children and can easily find employment in the new location.

To speak with a Buffalo divorce lawyer regarding a child custody matter, contact The Rossi Law Firm to schedule a consultation.