Parental Relocation Attorneys
In most cases, a parent will seek to relocate with children after a final custody order and parenting schedule is in place. As a result, moving away can be expected to have a significant effect on the parenting schedule of the noncustodial parent and will impact their ability to maintain a close and meaningful relationship with his or her child. Because it will interfere with court-ordered or agreed to visitation arrangements, a parental relocation proposal will need to be approved by the court, unless the parents are able to consent to the relocation and a modified parenting schedule. Relocating with children without court approval or parental consent will cause significant problems for the custodial parent, including, but not limited to the potential loss of physical custody of the child.
A New York family court judge is likely to grant a relocation proposal if it is submitted in good faith and supported by legitimate and sound reasons. Remarriage, career or educational opportunities are the most frequent reasons advanced by the parent seeking the relocation. The court must also find that the move is in the child's best interests. The parent moving away should always try to work out alternative visitation or custody arrangements that meet the needs of both the child and the other parent.
A relocation case is very "fact sensitive" so each case must be considered on its own facts and merits. Factors the Courts will often take into consideration include the following:
- The good faith of the parents in requesting or opposing the move.
- The child's respective attachments to the custodial and non-custodial parent.
- The possibility of devising a visitation schedule that will enable the non-custodial parent to maintain a meaningful parent-child relationship.
- The quality of the lifestyle that the child would have if the proposed move were permitted or denied.
- The negative impact, if any, from continued or exacerbated hostility between the custodial and non-custodial parents.
- The effect that the move may have on any extended-family relationships.
- The economic necessity of the move.
- Any specific health-related concern for the move.
- The demands of a second marriage.
- The custodial parent's opportunity to improve his or her economic situation.
Relocation applications, much like any custody matter, will most often require the appointment of an attorney for the child, who will represent their interest and will be required to advise the Court of the child's wishes. Relocation cases may also require home studies and forensic evaluation by a mental health professional, as well as, an eventual trial.
Finally, while the respective rights of the custodial and non-custodial parents are unquestionably significant factors, it is the rights and needs of the child that must be given the greatest weight since the child is the innocent victim of the parents' decision to divorce and request to relocate and is the least equipped to handle the stresses of the changing family situation.
Due to the interplay of the complex factors involved, unfortunately there is no predictability in assessing the chances of success of a relocation application.