Life goes on, even during a divorce. After a marriage dissolves, one partner may want to move closer to extended family to help support or care for their children. Or, one partner may have a job offer to relocate to a city that they may not have been able to take when they were married.
Many people ask if they can move while their divorce is in progress or afterward. If no children are involved, the answer is fairly straightforward; however, relocating becomes much more complicated in cases where both parents share custody of the children.
How New York Judges Decide Relocation Cases
A parent may be permitted to move, either during the divorce proceedings or after the decree is final and custody arrangements decided, under certain conditions and only with court permission.
In some divorce cases, a judge may have issued temporary orders, which establish which parent has the right to the shared home or arrange for custody, visitation, and child support.
The temporary orders may become permanent once the divorce is finalized; it’s rare for them to be modified during the divorce proceedings unless something drastically changes for one parent. Relocation could be considered to be a reason to change temporary orders or alter the custody agreement established in the divorce decree.
Regardless of whether it’s during the divorce or after, the parent relocating must provide the other parent notification of their intent to move — in writing — before moving. The non-moving parent has the right to file an objection to the moving parent’s departure. If they choose to do so, a relocation hearing is scheduled in a New York family court.
While the court proceeding is pending, the court is required to grant permission for a requested relocation.
Relocation Approval and the Best Interests of the Child
Relocation hearings are similar to custody hearings in that the child’s best interests are the paramount consideration. A judge determines whether the move negatively affects the child’s relationship with the other parent or that parents ability to exercise parenting time with the child.
Another consideration is whether the move would significantly improve the child’s quality of life, such as going to better schools or having a parent who will be earning a much higher salary — and therefore be better able to provide for the child.
The judge hears evidence from both sides; each parent states their reasons for or against the move.
What to Expect at a New York Relocation Hearing
At the hearing, both you and the other parent of your child will likely need to testify. The New York judge will likely appoint an attorney for your child or children — a lawyer whose responsibility is solely to represent the interests of the children.
Bring any evidence to support your claim. For example, if you’re the moving parent, bring information about the school district the child will attend or an offer letter from a new job showing that you’ll be making more money.
You may also bring information about the community where the child will live and whether the child will be closer to extended family.
Some considerations include the following:
- The moving parent’s reason for moving
- The non-moving parent’s reasons for objecting
- The impact the move will have on the child’s relationship and parenting time with the non-custodial parent
- Whether the parenting time can be arranged for the non-custodial parent if the move is allowed
- How or whether the move will enrich or enhance the child’s quality of life
- The child’s relationship with each parent
- How feasible visitation arrangements will be after the move
Your child’s attorney ad litem may also present evidence, such as citing the opportunity for a child to improve their grades in a new school or producing findings from a child psychiatrist to show whether the move would have a positive or a detrimental effect on the child.
Do you need help with a relocation petition?
If you’re planning to move, or if your child’s other parent is planning on moving, a New York family law attorney can help. At Aiello & DiFalco LLP, we take pride in helping parents advocate for the best custody arrangement to support the well-being of their families and protect their children in Garden City, NY.
Contact us to schedule a consultation with a dedicated family law attorney from our firm today.