What Are The Child Relocation Laws In New York?
No statute defines “actual relocation” with a child under New York State Law. However, there is a common (though somewhat broad) notion about the term and its meaning within the New York State Court System.
What constitutes “actual relocation” with a child often depends on each case’s facts. However, certain acts will usually be considered actual relocation. For example, moving to a different state with your child will undoubtedly be considered relocation in most cases since moving to another state means leaving the jurisdiction of the New York State Court.
It is often considered relocation if a parent leaves the city or town they formerly lived in with their child. It is even more often considered relocation if a parent leaves the county they formerly lived in with their child.
Often, custody and visitation orders or stipulations will specify what “actual relocation” will be considered in that specific case. For example, orders/stipulations might specify a 20-mile radius as an acceptable distance to move without constituting actual relocation with the child/children.
The definition of actual relocation in these cases is important because if a parent wants to relocate beyond the accepted radius, they would have to seek the permission of the court to do so. In many cases, the court will draw the line at moving across state lines, holding that any move with the parent/child leaving the state (aka the court’s jurisdiction) requires permission from the court.
The other factor that plays into what is considered “actual relocation” is visitation access. As a rule, any relocation that makes the ordered parenting schedule impossible due to distance would be considered an actual relocation.
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On the other hand, say you can stay within the same school area or that the visitation schedule can be kept as is after you’ve moved. In this situation, your moving would usually not be considered an actual relocation, and you probably would not need permission from the court.
You should be aware that not all custody orders or agreements have something included regarding relocation. In those cases, there’s nothing to stop a parent from relocating if they can follow visitation or parenting time orders.
When Is The Court Most Likely To Approve A Move That Constitutes Actual Relocation?
In New York, the child custody and relocation laws—and when permission ought to be granted for moves that constitute actual relocation—have changed over time. The last time New York state significantly changed the rules for relocation was around ten years ago. Due to those changes, it is easier now to get actual relocation approved.
Suppose you are seeking approval for actual relocation. In that case, you must show that it’s in the child’s best interest to relocate. For instance, you can show that the move will allow the custodial parent to have a better income and provide a more comfortable life for the child. In addition, you can show that the neighborhood you want to move to is safer than where you live now or that the schools in the area are better for the child.
When making these points, you must also show that parenting time for any children will not be affected by the move and that parenting time for the other parent will not be downright impossible.
These are some of the factors that a court will consider in a relocation with a child. There are no fixed rules about it, per se. However, the one determining factor that courts can identify is what is in the child’s best interest.
What Is The Legal Geographical Distance For Relocation With A Child Following Divorce In New York?
If you are staying within New York State, there are no fixed rules about how far away is too far. Typically, custody orders or agreements will limit how far either parent can move away with the child, either in terms of mileage or not leaving a specific city or jurisdiction. Other than that, if the move does not impact the non-custodial parent’s time with the child, moves within New York State will usually be allowed.
Can New York Family Court Stop Me From Moving With My Child?
The New York Family Court can stop you from moving with your child in certain circumstances. For example, suppose a custody or visitation case is pending in court. If one party asks to move a certain distance away with the child, the court will deny the request. Sometimes, the court will proactively enter an order saying the child cannot be relocated outside a certain distance without court approval, pending the case’s outcome.
Suppose one parent gets information or becomes aware that the other parent plans to move with their child. In that case, that parent can go to court to stop the relocation. The court will usually do so, pending a decision in the custody or visitation case. Courts often issue an order stating that the parent cannot relocate the child outside of a particular area until the court decides on the child’s best interest.
Do New York Courts Ever Deny Relocation With A Child?
New York Courts can, will, and do deny relocation with a child. They usually do so if they find that the move is not in the child’s best interest, typically because it would severely impact the parenting time of the non-custodial parent. If the custodial parent wants to move, for instance, across the country from New York to California, it would be exceedingly difficult to justify such a move unless some very significant factors show that the move is in the child’s best interest.
Otherwise, the impact on the non-custodial parent’s parenting time would be so severe that it would be difficult to justify. The child having access to parenting time for both parents is almost always considered to be in the child’s best interest (barring cases of abuse or neglect). If the custodial parent moves across the country, the non-custodial parent would not reliably be able to have weekends with the child or regularly participate in the child’s life and activities during the week.
Sometimes, parents can make alternative arrangements. For instance, an agreement may be reached between the parents that the move will be allowed so long as the child spends the entire summer or school breaks with the non-custodial parent. Otherwise, it can be challenging to get a court to approve such a long-distance move.
Disputes about a custodial parent’s desire to move with their child/children are often settled out of court, sometimes through facilitated mediation. However, in some cases, all remedies outside the courtroom fail, and the case proceeds to trial. If it does go on to a trial, the factor directing the decision of the court would be deciding whether the move ultimately would be in the best interest of the child.
Technically, it is also possible for a court to undo a move already made, especially if it has been made in a flagrant violation of a standing order or agreement. For instance, say there is an order barring moves with the child outside New York State, but a parent continues to move with the child to California. In this case, the court can order the parent to return to New York with the child.
Of course, this would be an inconvenient situation for all parties and the court, so it is not advisable to go through that avenue if it is avoidable. Therefore, in practice, it is not typically undertaken. But if it becomes necessary, theoretically, it can be done.
If The New York Court Approves Relocation With A Child, Will Visitation With The Other Parent (Along With The Cost Of Travel) Also Be Adjusted?
Visitation orders or agreements may have to be changed depending on the move. For example, suppose a parent moves from New York City to Hoboken, New Jersey. In this case, that move may only affect visitation a little. The arrangement may require some slight modification, but the order’s standing structure should remain the same.
But suppose the move is farther away, which may make certain visitations impossible. In those cases, visitation agreements and orders must be adjusted accordingly. Say a custodial parent moves, and it’s not the other parent’s fault. In this situation, the parent that moved will often be responsible for the cost of visitation.
For example, they may be responsible for paying for plane or train tickets, or the child must be transported back and forth between the two parents. In certain circumstances, the court may require one parent to pay for the visits if the other parent has no real income. Still, unless there’s an extreme situation like that, typically, if a parent moves, they will be responsible for paying the visits’ costs.
What Are The Penalties For Not Notifying Courts Of Out Of State Relocation When Receiving Child Support In New York?
When receiving child support in New York, it is important to notify the courts of any out of state relocation. Failure to do so can result in serious penalties. Suppose the custodial parent moves without notifying the court. In this case, they may be found in contempt and face fines or jail time. In addition, the court can suspend their child support payments until they return to New York or otherwise comply with the orders.
Similarly, suppose the non-custodial parent relocates out of state without notifying the court. In that case, that parent can be found in contempt of court and face similar penalties. In addition, the court can adjust the child support payments to reflect the higher cost of living in their new location. They may also be required to continue making payments until the custodial parent returns to New York or otherwise complies with the court’s orders.
What Are The Reasons A Judge Will Deny Relocation In New York?
When it comes to child custody and visitation in New York, a judge can deny relocation requests for a few different reasons, such as:
- If the parent wishing to relocate needs to provide more information to prove that the move would be in the child’s best interests
- If there is evidence that the custodial parent attempts to hinder or prevent the non-custodial parent’s visitation rights
- If the move could be seen as an act of revenge against the other parent
- If the court believes that allowing the relocation would cause unnecessary hardship for either parent or the child
When a party seeks to relocate with their child, the court considers the impact that move will have on all involved. One factor courts consider how the relocation will affect the child’s relationship with each parent. For example, suppose the non-custodial parent’s visitation rights are significantly reduced due to distance. In that case, this could be grounds for denying relocation.
How Do I Win A Child Relocation Case In New York?
Winning a child relocation case in New York will depend on the specific facts of the case and the arguments presented by each party. Both parties must understand what factors the court will consider when deciding whether to approve or deny a relocation request. When arguing in favor of a relocation, it is crucial to demonstrate that the move is in the child’s best interests.
The child’s best interests include showing that the move is necessary for career or educational opportunities, will provide better financial stability and other family support, or will otherwise benefit the child in meaningful ways. It is also important to demonstrate that both parents have access to transportation and other resources to continue to enjoy a meaningful relationship with their child.