People who divorce usually want to part ways and move on with their lives. However, this freedom is limited when minor children are involved. A custodial parent — the one with whom the child lives primarily — cannot deny the other parent their allowed parenting time with the child. This can be a point of contention when the custodial parent wants to relocate over a long distance.
When a judge grants a divorce in New York, there are certain limits placed on the custodial parent relocating. The order may allow moving within a certain geographic area or radius of the current residence, but any move beyond that limit requires the permission of the court.
If the custodial parent decides to move at some time after the divorce, the parents may be able to negotiate a mutually acceptable relocation agreement. If they cannot, the parent seeking to relocate must file a motion with the court. In deciding the motion, the court’s first and foremost concern is whether the proposed move is in the child’s best interests. The court will also weigh whether the move will substantially interfere with the relationship between the non-custodial parent and the child. Other factors are the economic opportunities, educational opportunities, family relations and convenience that the move offers the custodial parent and the child. The judge must balance the equities to decide.
Many custodial parents want to move for a good reason, such as a better job, furthering education or being closer to extended family. However, some custodial parents want to move for reasons that are illegitimate or are in bad faith. These might include interfering with the other parent’s relationship with the child. Another bad-faith reason to relocate is to reduce the amount of child support that the relocating party must pay. When a judge discovers bad faith, the motion will almost certainly be denied.
If the court finds that the proposed move is for legitimate reasons but that there are hardships that might result, certain conditions may be imposed. For example, suppose that in the original order the non-custodial parent picked up and dropped off the child at the other parent’s house 25 miles away for visitation. If the petitioning parent wants to move 100 miles away, the judge may allow the move if the parents agree to meet halfway between homes for transport. An experienced family law attorney can advise you on the type of relocation arrangement most likely to win court approval.
The Law Offices of Randy S. Margulis practices divorce and family law throughout greater metropolitan Buffalo, New York. Contact us online or call 716-886-9600 to schedule a free initial consultation.
As a Buffalo divorce lawyer for 28 years, I have devoted myself to solving the problems that affect families throughout the Buffalo metropolitan area and Western New York. As a family law attorney, I make it my goal to create a partnership of trust with my clients. People put their trust in me to handle cases that can potentially have a long-lasting impact on not only their lives, but the lives of their family as well.
Alexandra M. Rockwood is a Senior Associate Attorney with the Law Offices of Randy S. Margulis & Associates and has been with the firm since early 2020. She primarily practices in the areas of matrimonial and family law, including divorce, child custody, and child support. Alexandra is a practicing matrimonial and family law attorney as…