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Relocation Woes

Divorce is often difficult for all members of a family emotionally, financially and socially. Yet parents may eventually come to a new point of stability for themselves and for their children.

This stability may be disrupted, however, when one of the parents wants to relocate out of the geographic area of the other parent. In the landmark case of Tropea v. Tropea, the New York Court of Appeals dealt with a particularly difficult example of relocation. It established some of the principal factors that the court may consider in deciding whether to approve one parent’s desire to relocate.

In Tropea, Tammy Tropea had primary physical custody of her children. She wanted to move two-and-a-half hours away to live with her fiancé. Her ex-husband, John Tropea, was an extremely active father.  He visited with his children several times a week and proactively engaged them in a variety of extracurricular activities. John Tropea claimed that the move would infringe on his right to physical custody of his children, making it impossible for him to see them during the week.

The court explained that the deciding factor in all cases relating to children was the best interests of the children. The court enumerated a number of relevant factors including:

  • The parents' respective reasons for seeking the move or for opposing the move
  • The quality and nature of the relationships between each parent and the children
  • How the move would impact the non-custodial parent's relationship with the child
  • Benefits, including emotional, economic or educational, for the child as a result of the move
  • The practicability for the non-custodial parent to visit and/or maintain contact with the child

Custody issues are often complicated. Relocation cases can be among the most difficult of all. If you or your ex-spouse plans on relocating, contact a family law attorney at our office for more information and to see how we can protect your rights and maintain the integrity of your family.

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