Parental Relocations in New York

If you are a parent who’s headed toward divorce on Staten Island, there’s something we want you to know: Things change after a divorce and often, such changes will be significant enough that one or both parents will head back to court. Child custody is no exception.

Suppose you have two children with your spouse and one of you is seeking a divorce. Once the divorce is finalized, there is a very good chance that things will look very different three years after the divorce is made official. In fact, you or your spouse may experience such a major life change, that a parental relocation enters the picture.

To elaborate: Suppose “John” is married to Lauren and after growing apart during a 10-year marriage, John files for divorce. Then, two years after the divorce is final, John’s ex Lauren gets engaged and wants to move to Philadelphia with her surgeon fiancé. Since Lauren has had primary physical custody of the former couple’s children, Lauren wants to bring the children with her. But, the problem is John is not okay with the move. What does Lauren do, call off her engagement? What are the possible outcomes in this scenario?

Possible Outcomes in a Move-Away Action

Unless the custodial parent has sole custody of the children, he or she should NOT move without first seeking the Family Court’s blessing. Even if the noncustodial parent gives “verbal agreement,” that does not mean the courts should not get involved. What’s stopping the noncustodial parent from changing their mind?

If the court documents have strict geographical perimeters, a move can harm the custodial parent’s arrangement if he or she moves without the court’s express approval. Instead of moving with the children and hoping it will all work out, a custodial parent should go back to court and ask for a child custody modification.

What are the possible outcomes of a parental relocation?

  • The court may approve it, but will create a modified child custody schedule which takes into consideration the distance.
  • The court denies the action and the current arrangement does not change.
  • The court may deny it and suggest the children move in with the noncustodial parent, thereby allowing the custodial parent to move.
  • The noncustodial parent may decide to do a “parallel move,” meaning he or she moves to the same area so the existing schedule is not interrupted.

It is not uncommon for custodial parents to move to another county, a neighboring state, or even clear across the country. Usually, an engagement, a remarriage, or a new job opportunity is the reason behind such a move. Other times, the custodial parent wants to move back home to be closer to family. This way, extended family can help with childcare and raising the children. How does the court decide?

When deciding on a move-away case, the court will look at the actual child custody arrangement, not necessarily what’s in the divorce decree. The court will look at what the child wants, what each parent desires, and whether the child’s quality of life will be greatly improved if the move is permitted. Also, the court will look at the child’s current ties to their school, community, and extended family members. In other words, the court will look at the whole situation when deciding on the child’s best interests.

Looking for a Staten Island child custody attorney to help you with your move away case? Whether you’re looking to move or contest such a move, contact our firm to schedule a free case evaluation.