Can I Move Away with My Children After Divorce?
Divorce often puts families into financial and emotional upheaval. Even after all the financial and custody issues are settled, divorced couples with children are often dismayed to discover that they are not free to up and move if they have shared custody of their children with their ex. This can be devastating when trying to put the pieces of your life together and perhaps a new job opportunity opens up in a different city or state.
Parents who are divorced or separated are frequently frustrated to hear that they cannot just leave the city or even the state with their children. A planned “relocation” is what New York law refers to when one of the child’s parents wishes to relocate.
If you and your child’s other parent can’t agree on where you should live, you’ll have to go through a court process that ends with a judge’s decision to approve or deny the change. Here’s what to understand about Long Island relocation laws and how to get legal help regardless of which side of the situation you’re on.
Informing the Other Parent of the Desire to Relocate
If a parent has custody and/or visitation rights to their child and the child spends at minimum half of their overall time with that parent, the parent can petition the court for permission to move away with their children. In such a situation, the first step is for a parent who wishes to relocate to notify the other parent in writing of their intentions. The following information generally should be included in the written notice:
- When the parent wants to move by
- Where the parent wants to move, with a street address if possible
- How long the relocation will last or if the move will be permanent
The parent wishing to relocate must give written notice at least 60 days before the scheduled move. Even if a planned relocation needs to occur immediately, the parent that is moving away must still give as much warning as practicable.
The notice then must be filed with the appropriate court. If there is a history of domestic violence or familial abuse, the judge may decide to keep any vulnerable or personally identifiable data sealed.
Can a Long Island Family Court Deny a Parent’s Relocation Request?
The most important factor that New York courts consider when evaluating child custody and relocation is what is in the best interests of the child. If the move isn’t in the child’s best interest, the court will deny the parent’s request to move with the child. That parent must then travel to their child for visitation or relinquish their custody rights to avoid being held in contempt of court.
If the judge determines that the transfer is, in fact, in the best interests of the child, the court can issue a new child custody order that re-assigns parental duties for the child’s basic care. In every Long Island child custody matter, the best interests of the child must come first.
The parent who wishes to relocate bears the burden of proof in demonstrating that the relocation is in the best interests of their child. Judges determine relocation in a case-by-case manner, based on each case’s specific circumstances. Generally, a judge will consider the following:
- the child’s own desires, considering the child’s development and capacity to articulate a reasoned and independent opinion on the move
- the parents’ capacity to collaborate with one another or if their interactions are adversarial
- how involved each parent is in making important choices for the child when they are too young to do so
- the location of each parent’s home, how far away they are from each other, and how costly it will be to transport the child
- if it’s in the best interests of the child for one parent to be prevented from making decisions for them
- if both parents are willing to work with each other to co-parent their child effectively or if one parent is adversarial
- if either parent has abused the child or threatened abuse against them
- if another person in either parent’s household has been the victim of abuse or other violence
- if either parent is a registered sex offender and the nature of the crime
What to Do If You or Your Ex Wants to Move
Contact Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. for Help
Whether you are the parent who wants to move or you’re the parent who wants to prevent the other parent from moving away with your child, you need experienced legal help. An experienced Long Island divorce lawyer can provide you with the assistance you need to make the best possible case to the court. Call today for a consultation at 631-923-1910 or fill out the short form on this page.
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