Life rarely turns out the way we’d planned, and sometimes change
comes at unexpected times. If you share child custody with your ex, or
if you the two of you have a visitation arrangement, any changes that
impact one of your lives will inevitably affect the other. Big decisions
like remarriage and career changes might prompt you to change the ways
you split parenting time or the process you follow on pick-ups and drop-offs.
So, if either you or your child’s other parent decide to relocate,
it might make co-parenting a bit more complicated.
Relocating is a big decision, especially if you have children to consider.
Job opportunities, more affordable living, and new relationships are often
some of the biggest reasons people choose to relocate. However, if you
share parenting responsibilities with your ex, you need to consider how
your upcoming move could impact your child custody or visitation agreement.
New York Child Custody Laws & Relocation
Moving to a new town, state, or even a new country, could be a beneficial
step, but only when all child custody matters are handled first. If the
parent who is relocating has sole custody, that parent may be able to
take the child with them on their move. When the noncustodial parent relocates,
it is very unlikely the court will permit that parent to take the child
with them when they move. If parents share custody, the relocation of
one parent can be tricky, especially if the parents disagree about whether
or not the child should move with the relocating parent or remain where
he or she is.
Most states, New York included, will consider relocation of the child only
when it is in the child’s best interest. So, if you and your co-parent
are unable to decide how to handle the relocation, you will likely need
to present your case to the court.
Defining the Child’s “Best Interest”
If the parents are able to agree about where the child will live after
the relocation takes place, the court need not be involved in the custody
change. But, the new custody arrangement should be made legally binding
once the parents have reached an agreement. If the parents are unable
to agree on the best plan for their child, the court will make the decision
for them based on whichever choice is in the child’s best interest.
The court determines what to do about relocation on a case by case basis.
There are no definitive rules regarding how the court will proceed, only
that certain factors will be considered before the judge decides on the
best possible option for the child.
The court will consider the following factors:
- The reason for the parent’s relocation
- Any reasons the non-moving parent opposes the relocation
- The relationship the child has with either parent
- The ability of each parent to effectively co-parent together
- The impact the move could have on the child’s relationships with
other family members, such as siblings, grandparents, etc.
- The benefits the parent may experience if he or she relocates
- The benefits the child can experience by relocating (educational, economic,
- Ways in which the move may negatively impact the child
After reviewing these factors, the court will decide how custody will be
awarded. In some cases, a shared custody arrangement will remain, or it
might be changed to sole custody with altered visitation rights. In any
case, the judge will make the decision based on what he or she perceives
to be the best option for your child.
Be Prepared to Make Big Changes
Even if the relocating parent does not intend to take their child with
them, child custody could still be significantly impacted. Visitation
could be much more difficult to arrange when parents are not within easy
driving distance, and shared custody could be even more challenging. One
parent might choose to spend summer breaks with their child, saving up
all parenting time for one significant chunk each year. Or, parents may
try to split custody by weekend visits, if the distance is minimal enough
to allow for such an arrangement. In any case, figuring out a new custody
arrangement can be extremely challenging, especially if you decide to
bring the issue before a New York judge.
If you are dealing with a relocation issue, our firm can help. Contact The Law Firm of Wayne F. Crowe, Jr., P.C. to discuss your case with our Yonkers family lawyer.