Relocation

One major issue in a custodial parent’s life that can require further litigation or proceedings is relocation. If you need legal guidance on a matter of relocation, it is in your best interest to get in touch with a skilled Attorney.

Child visitation issues come to the forefront with a custodial parent wants to move out of the state or country. Even when visitation or custody issues do not have the enforcement power of a court order behind them, a judge may prevent a parent from moving when the other parent enjoyed regular contact with the child.

Determining Relocation Cases

In sum, the three main factors that are considered when the court decides a relocation case are whether or not access will be maintained for the non-custodial parent, exceptional circumstances, and what’s in the best interest of the child. When determining the first factor, the court looks at facts such as the expense of travel for the child or non-custodial parent and the involvement of that parent in the child’s life.

Exceptional circumstances include reasons why the custodial parent is compelled to move, such as an economic or health situation. Generally, getting re-married or getting a job promotion are not considered exceptional circumstances, although a job promotion may be considered due to the improved economic circumstances for the child. The best interest of the child is generally determined by examining the child’s relationship with each parent, the parent’s relationship with each other, and the child’s proximity to other relatives. The leading case in New York relating to relocation cases is Tropea v. Tropea. 

Non-custodial parents might need to take preventative measures such as petitioning for custody or modification to keep the other parent from moving, and custodial parents will be burdened with proving to the court that relocation is necessary for financial or family reasons and that it would not preclude any visitation rights that the non-custodial parent currently enjoys.

A judge may also rule that a relocating custodial parent must pay for travel expenses or allow extended summer vacations where the child can have time with the other parent. And if the child is moved out of state without an agreement or court order, a habeas corpus petition can be filed with the court within 6 months seeking the return of that child to the state.