Following a divorce, it is not unusual for a custodial parent to want to relocate to a different county or even a different state. Understandably, such a move can certainly affect a child’s relationships with friends, extended family, classmates, and most importantly, with the non-custodial parent. For that reason, New York courts carefully determine whether the custodial parent has permission to relocate.
Since no two situations are identical, the family courts handle relocation cases individually; courts do not take a cookie-cutter approach to relocations. Regardless of the nuances or the facts of the case, the courts have one objective: to act in the best interests of the child at all times (and not necessarily what is best for the parent). While each parent’s rights will be considered, the most weight will be given to the child’s overall well-being.
Relationships Change After Divorce
The courts recognize the fact that relationships inevitably change after a divorce. For example, a parent may need to move out-of-state for a new job or because of remarriage.
Given the circumstances, it may be impractical to maintain the status quo when there has been a significant change in the custodial parent’s life. In such cases, if the child will enjoy a better education, better family support, and enhanced economic security by moving, a court may rule that it is in the child’s best interests to relocate. These interests must be weighed against the child’s need to maintain a continued relationship with the non-custodial parent. Oftentimes, when relocation is granted, the court will have to change the visitation schedule so that the non-custodial parent will have more quality time with the child.
Suppose a child has strong ties to his non-custodial father, his father’s family, his school, his friends, and the community. Though the child’s custodial mother does not have a job lined up, she desires to move to Pennsylvania to get a change of scenery and a fresh start, but the child does not want to move away from his father, who is caring, compassionate, and a good provider. In this situation, the court may decide that a change in custody is arguably “in the best interests of the child,” so that the child’s stability can be maintained.
If you are considering relocating, or you wish to contest such a move, contact our Long Island family law attorneys!