How Do New York Courts Address Parental Relocation Requests?

Published On: July 15, 2022Categories: Family Law

shutterstock_1097235911-min.jpgAfter a divorce involving children or the separation of unmarried parents, child custody orders will be put in place that will detail how the parents will share the responsibility of raising their children and how they will divide visitation time. In the years after an order is established, a parent may believe that modifications are necessary due to changes in the lives of themselves or their children.

Parental relocation is a common reason for modification requests. A parent may choose to move for a variety of reasons, including to pursue employment opportunities, to be closer to other family members, or to live in a more affordable location. While some relocations may only require minimal adjustments to visitation schedules, others may result in major modifications that will affect the relationship between the children and the other parent. When disputes about relocation requests occur, parents will need to understand the issues that courts will consider as they determine whether modifications to child custody will be made.

Factors Considered in Parental Relocation Cases

As with all other matters related to child custody, the primary concern of a family court judge will be to protect the best interests of the children involved. When addressing these issues, they may consider multiple factors, including:

  • The reasons for the move – A judge will look at the stated reasons a parent wishes to relocate. A parent may be looking to receive a fresh start, they may be moving out of economic necessity, or they may have health-related reasons for relocating. The judge may consider whether these reasons are provided in good faith or whether a parent may be moving out of an attempt to limit contact between the children and the other parent.

  • The impact of the relocation on the relationship between the children and the other parent – A judge will look at whether a relocation will result in a loss of “meaningful access” to the child by the non-custodial parent. Typically, judges will want to avoid an outcome that will harm parent-child relationships, and they may look for solutions that will allow a parent to have regular contact with the child and continue serving in the same parental role as they had in the past.

  • The other parent’s reasons for objecting to the move – As when reviewing the stated reasons for the relocation, a judge will look at the other parent’s reasons for objecting to the move and whether their objections are based on good-faith concerns about the best interests of their children.

  • Parent-child relationships – A judge may consider the child’s attachment to each parent, as well as each parent’s level of involvement in making decisions and caring for children. They will often seek to find solutions that will allow parents and children to maintain these relationships.

  • The child’s quality of life – The opportunities and benefits available to children at each location may be considered. These may include educational opportunities, access to childcare, and the safety of the respective neighborhoods.

  • Hostility between parents – The negative impact that continued conflict may have on children may be considered, and a judge may consider whether a relocation is likely to increase or decrease the level of hostility.

  • Extended family – Children’s relationships with family members such as grandparents or cousins may be affected by a relocation. A judge may look at whether children will be closer to or farther away from extended family members, and they will look to minimize the negative impact that a move may have on children’s family relationships.

Contact Our Hudson Valley Parental Relocation Attorney

If you are planning to relocate with your children, or if you want to prevent your ex from moving your children away from you, Law Offices of Robert S. Lewis, P.C. can advise you of your rights and options. We will help you find solutions that will protect your children’s best interests. Contact our Rockland County child custody modification lawyer today at 845-358-7100 to schedule a complimentary consultation.