One parent seeking to move with children, either within or out of New York, is one of the common scenarios I see and write about. When the non- custodial parent has a good relationship with the children, the disputes are gut wrenching; the court is compelled to make a Solomon-like decision
On one hand, a permitted relocation means that the non-custodial parent would have less access to the children. On other hand, if the relocation is denied, the custodial parent could be denied an opportunity to wed or to seek employment opportunities or career advancement.
In a recent case, the Appellate Division faced the dilemma should a mother be able to move to Mississippi to explore an employment opportunity or be forced to remain in New York, where she was unemployed and struggling economically, but where the father, who was not religiously paying child support lived. The father had a good relationship with the children.
The ultimate determination in any relocation petition is the best interests of the child. To make that determination, the court considers any relevant factors, including:
- the parents' respective reasons for moving and for opposing the move,
- the degree to which the custodial parent's and child's life may be enhanced economically, emotionally, and educationally by the move,
- the quality of relationship between the custodial and noncustodial parent and the child, and
- the impact of the move on the quantity and quality of the child's future contact with the noncustodial parent.
Ultimately, the Court allowed the mother to relocate finding “relocation application was prompted by a legitimate, pressing need for a secure economic situation.” The Court further noted that the economic benefits of the move “would be less weighty if the father were providing consistent, steady, and sufficient support to ensure the child's lifestyle at a level above subsistence.”
One obvious lesson of this case is that if you are the parent seeking to prevent your children from relocating where the move is for economic reasons, you better be providing for them.