Relocation of a minor child and New York State Laws

Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

In our fast paced society, many families experience the need to move to another city and/or state for various reasons. People move because they are able to obtain better employment opportunity, wish to be closer to family, lower standard of living or for a multitude of other reasons. Intact families get to make this decision together. For example, husband and wife decide they wish to relocate from New York to California, they pack their belongings, take the children and pets and begin their life together in a new location, without any state involvement.

When the parents are separated or divorced, the issue becomes much more complex. If there are existing orders or agreements, it may not be possible for one parent to simply decide to move away and take the child with them. The parent wishing to relocate to another city or state, in most cases, will need the permission of the other parent in writing. If the other parent refuses to provide permission, not all is lost, although the burden is high. The parent wishing to relocate may petition the Court setting forth specific reasons why a move for the child is necessary and request that a Judge decide on this issue.

Once an application is brought forth before the Court, a Judge has to make a hard decision whether or not it is in the best interests of the child to relocate. Typically, the final decision from the Court comes after a hearing, where both parents call witnesses and provide evidence to the Court.

The Courts usually look at the following factors in order to make a decision on relocation: the relationship between the child and the parent that is not relocating (is the parent seeing the child frequently? Is the parent involved in school and medical decisions of the child? Is the parent involved in extracurricular activities of the child?), the quality of life that the child would have in the new locality (is the child going to attend better schools? Is the child going to live in a better place? Is the child going to have more opportunity to be involved in the new community?), the current life style that the child has, and how all these factors would impact the child's growth into adulthood. The Judges presiding over these cases have the authority to decide whether or not it is in the best interests of the child to move away. Sometimes the answer is yes, if the parent seeking a relocation can establish that the child's life would be much better residing in the new area. Sometimes the answer is no, if the parent fighting the relocation can establish that the relationship between the child would be negatively impacted and that the child is better off staying in the current area.

If you are aware that you or your child's other parent wishes to relocate, you must act quickly and gain as much information as possible, so that you can better prepare for the future. These are very complex issues that need guidance and legal advocacy. Due to the serious impact a relocation can have on a family, including the child's life, it is highly recommended that you seek the expertise of a highly experienced attorney in this area of law. The matrimonial team at Larkin, Ingrassia & Tepermayster, LLP, is highly experienced in guiding clients through relocation cases, whether the client is wishing to relocate or whether the client is wishing to keep the child from moving from the area with the other parent. Call our office and set up your consultation today.