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534 Delaware Ave, Suite 433, Buffalo, New York 14202 | 19 Limestone Drive, Suite 9, Williamsville, New York 14221

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There are Risks to Petitioning to Relocate

Last July a New York Supreme Court denied a relocation petition from a custodial father who was seeking permission to move from New York to another state in the United States. In the matter of Hirtz v. Hirtz, the father, a pediatrician in the military received orders to relocate and sought to take his two children with him. When the children’s mother filed her objection to the relocation, the court took a closer look at the family and reversed its earlier decision, granting sole legal and physical custody to the mother. 

How a judge decides on a relocation petition 

When considering a petition for relocation with minor children, the judge weighs the pros and cons of the move and how the move might affect the children. Some areas of debate include: 

  • Each parent’s reason for seeking or objecting to the move
  • The nature of the parent-child relationship
  • The potential impact of the move on the children
  • The impact of the move on the quality of time spent with each parent 

If the parent who is asking to relocate is the primary custodian, the second parent can voice an objection to the petition. Once the case is before the court, any number of things can happen, among them the court can reevaluate the current custody situation. 

A relocation hearing invites closer scrutiny 

In the case of Hirtz v. Hirtz as described above, the court took the opportunity of the father’s relocation petition to reverse the previous custody decision. Not only was the father’s petition denied, he also lost custody of his children in the process. 

In general, judges are disinclined to grant petitions to relocate without highly compelling reasons for the move. In a 1999 Rhode Island case a woman relinquished physical custody of her children in order to follow a romantic interest to Europe. When she returned to petition for the right to relocate with her children, the court ruled that, based on her earlier decision to value her relationship over the best interest of her children, the request was denied. 

If you are planning to relocate after your divorce and are the primary custodian for your children, you need good legal representation. Speak to a Buffalo area divorce attorney who knows the law and can uphold your parental rights.


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