Packing up and moving to a new home can be difficult for any child, and it’s no piece of cake for the parents either. Leaving the school, friends, and neighborhood they’ve come to know and cherish is no small thing for a kid.
For married parents, the decision whether to relocate is theirs and theirs alone, whether it be for a job opportunity, to be close to other family members, or just to get away from the cold and snow of a wintery New York. But a divorced parent in New York who has primary custody of a child, and whose move could dramatically impact the involvement of the other parent in their child’s life, needs the permission of either the other parent or a judge before they can move away with their child.
As with all decisions relating to children during divorce proceedings, a judge who is asked to approve a custodial parent’s request to relocate will be guided by what is in the “best interests of the child.”
Noting the importance of the custodial parent’s desire to make a “fresh start” or the impact the move may have on the relationship and rights of the non-custodial parent, New York’s highest court said in the leading case of Tropea v. Tropea:
“While the respective rights of the custodial and noncustodial parents are unquestionably significant factors that must be considered, it is the rights and needs of the children that must be accorded the greatest weight, since they are innocent victims of their parents' decision to divorce and are the least equipped to handle the stresses of the changing family situation.”
In reaching this decision, the New York Court of Appeals set forth the factors a judge should take into consideration when evaluating whether a relocation would be in a child’s best interest. These include:
- each parent's reasons for seeking or opposing the move,
- the quality of the relationships between the child and the custodial and noncustodial parents,
- the impact of the move on the quantity and quality of the child's future contact with the noncustodial parent,
- the degree to which the custodial parent's and child's life may be enhanced economically, emotionally and educationally by the move, and
- the feasibility of preserving the relationship between the noncustodial parent and child through suitable visitation arrangements.
If you are a divorced parent seeking to relocate, or are concerned about the desire of your former spouse to relocate with your child, please give us a call at call us at (212) 683-9551 of fill out our online form to arrange for a consultation. We can discuss your situation, explore your options, and find solutions that will work for both you and your child.