Understanding Child Custody Relocation in New York

Understanding Child Custody Relocation in New York

While the vast majority of parents want what’s best for their child, child custody disputes are inevitable. Even co-parents on amicable terms can face conflicts related to their parenting time schedules, making it crucial to understand your custodial rights under New York family law.

In this blog, we'll discuss New York's custody relocation laws and how they can impact your child custody arrangement.

What Are New York’s Child Relocation Laws?

From summer breaks to relocation, it isn’t uncommon for co-parents to request modifications for custody and visitation schedules as their children age and develop, including relocation requests. When parenting time disagreements occur between co-parents, family courts are responsible for acting in the child’s best interests by making decisions regarding relocation, school transitions, and other custody matters.

“Actual relocation” refers to a change of residence by a co-parent that substantially impairs the ability of the other co-parent to maintain their relationship with the child, such as a parent deciding to move out of state.

What if I’m Not Moving Out of State?

Even if you’re not planning to move outside of the state, the relocation can still constitute relocation if the distance would substantially affect the other co-parent’s custody and visitation time. New York law doesn’t specify an exact distance for relocation, so these requests are typically handled on a case-to-case basis. Courts retain broad discretion when determining if the proposed relocation would constitute “actual relocation.”

Do I Need My Co-Parent’s Consent to Move Away with My Child?

Even with full custodial rights, you can’t just move away with your child if your co-parent has court-ordered visitation privileges. Regardless of whether your co-parent consents to the relocation, you’re still obligated to obtain permission from the court by filing a relocation request.

If your co-parent consents to the relocation, the court will likely grant your request. However, if your co-parent objects to your proposal, the relocating parent bears the burden of proving that the relocation is in the best interests of their child. In these cases, securing sound counsel from an experienced child custody attorney is essential to convince the court that moving away is in the child’s best interests.

How Do New York Courts Determine Child Relocation Cases?

In New York, family courts use a two-part test to determine relocation requests by one co-parent. The first part evaluates whether the move is in the child’s best interests, while the second part analyzes whether the proposed move would unduly interfere with the other co-parent’s custody rights.

The court may consider several factors in determining whether relocation is in the best interests of the child, including:

  • The reason for the relocation
  • The child’s relationship with both parents
  • The child’s preference (if developmentally appropriate)
  • The impact on the child’s relationship with each parent, siblings, and extended family members
  • The quality of life and opportunities at the new location
  • Any history of domestic violence or abuse involving either parent
  • How the relocation will impact the child’s education and schooling
  • Any potential adverse effects on the child due to disruption of their current routine and relationships

How Does Relocation Impact Child Custody Arrangements?

When a custodial parent wishes to relocate, the custodial parent is obligated to provide written notice of relocation to the other co-parent within at least 90 days before moving. They must obtain written consent from the other parent or court approval before the relocation. If the non-custodial parent doesn’t consent to the relocation, the petitioning parent has the right to object and request a court hearing.

During this hearing, both parties can present evidence and arguments as to why the relocation should or shouldn’t be allowed. Based on these factors, the court can approve or deny the relocation request. If approved, a new custody and visitation agreement will need to be created to accommodate the move. If denied, the custodial parent may need to make alternative arrangements or risk losing custody of the child.

What About Temporary Relocation?

In some cases, a parent may request temporary relocation for a specific period, such as for work or educational purposes. In these situations, the non-custodial parent must still be notified and has the right to object, but the court may be more likely to approve the temporary relocation as long as it doesn’t significantly interfere with parenting time.

What Happens if a Parent Relocates Without Consent?

If a custodial parent relocates without providing written notice or obtaining consent from the other parent or court approval, they may be subject to legal consequences. The non-custodial parent can file a petition to have the child returned, and the court may also modify custody and visitation arrangements.

Avoiding Custody Disputes Over Summer Break

For families with school-aged children, parenting time during summer breaks is outlined in the couple’s parenting plan. If this visitation plan isn’t followed, summer vacations can quickly become a source of conflict. It's essential to follow the agreed-upon schedule to avoid legal battles and ensure both parents have fair and lawful time with their child during the summer months. If any changes are desired, you must inform the other parent in advance and file a request to modify your parenting schedule.

Trusted Representation for New York Families

Family law disputes can be emotionally exhausting for everyone involved. Whether you’re preparing for a custody battle or filing for a divorce, our experienced family lawyer is dedicated to helping you navigate the legal intricacies of family court. Our firm understands the uniquely sensitive nature of family matters, which is why we’re committed to providing compassionate counsel to you and your loved ones during this difficult time. With over 40 years of experience, Jayson Lutzky is well-equipped to protect your rights and hard-earned assets from start to finish, empowering you to take the first step toward a brighter future.

Preparing for family court can be daunting, but you don’t have to do it alone. Call (718) 550-2881 to schedule a free consultation. Se habla Español.