If you’re a divorced parent who is considering a move to a new town, state, or country, you must take into account your child’s best interests, as well as the other parent’s custodial rights.
New York courts often award divorcing parents joint managing conservatorship over their child – unless there is a history of parental misconduct (e.g. domestic abuse or violence). Joint managing conservatorship means parents share the right to make important decisions about their child’s life, including the primary residence of the child.
Both parties have the option of declaring that neither parent is the “primary” parent, meaning that they determine that the child’s residence will remain within a specific geographic area and both parents must create a “shared possession schedule.” However, if both parents can reach an agreement, then a judge will make a decision for them and designate one parent as the “primary parent.” The court also needs to establish a geographic area which the primary parent can maintain the child’s primary residence.
Relocation with a Child
If you are the primary parent and wish to move your child, it is mandatory to obtain court approval before relocation. If you relocate you child without the consent of the court, you risk being held in contempt of court, resulting in potential jail time, fines, or both. If the other party wants to attempt to stop you from moving, he or she may file an application for a temporary restraining order, preventing you from moving until a relocation hearing in court is scheduled.
At the hearing, you must demonstrate compelling reasons for the proposed move. Some of the most common reasons include job relocation – if you cannot find comparable work locally – or a relocation to be closer to family members willing to help support and care for the child. If the court suspects that your move is meant to interfere with the other parent’s relationship with the child, your move will be prohibited.
In the end, the court will take into account all relevant facts and circumstances to decide what outcome will most likely serve the best interests of the child.