New York Child Custody and Relocation

by ECL Writer
New York Child Custody and Relocation

When a parent is granted custody of a child in New York, they may have concerns about how a potential relocation could affect their custody arrangement. Moving with a child can be a complex issue, and it’s important for parents to understand their rights and obligations under New York law. This Eastcoastlaws.com article will provide an overview of child custody and relocation in New York, including the factors that a court will consider when deciding whether to allow a parent to move with a child, as well as the steps that a parent must take to seek permission to relocate. Whether you are a custodial or non-custodial parent, understanding the laws around child custody and relocation in New York can help you make informed decisions about your family’s future.

Custody Basics In New York

A custody arrangement must be made by the parents or a judge when parents separate or get divorced. A custody order will outline both legal and physical custody, visiting schedules, and child support obligations. Where the child dwells is referred to as physical custody. Legal custody entails a parent’s authority to choose a child’s therapist, school, or religion. Parents may have joint physical and legal custody, joint legal and joint physical custody, or exclusive physical and legal custody with one parent.

Any custody decision must be made with the child’s best interests in mind. A judge will take into account a number of considerations while determining a child’s best interests for initial custody, including:

  • the child’s relationship with each parent
  • each parent’s physical and emotional health
  • each parent’s ability to meet the child’s educational, emotional, and physical needs
  • the¬†child’s preference, if the child is of sufficient age and maturity to give an opinion
  • each parent’s stability
  • the child’s relationship with extended family and siblings may be affected by custody
  • the parent’s ability to work together in a co-parenting relationship
  • each parent’s willingness to facilitate a relationship with the child and other parents, and
  • any other factor the court deems relevant.

How Will A Judge Decide A Relocation Case In New York?

In New York, a relocation case involves a custodial parent seeking to move out of state or a significant distance from the non-custodial parent with their child. The courts use the best interest analysis to decide whether to grant or deny the request for relocation.

The first consideration is whether the proposed move will enhance the quality of life of the custodial parent and child. This involves assessing factors such as better employment opportunities, a safer neighborhood, or access to better schools and healthcare facilities.

The next consideration is whether the move will disrupt the relationship between the child and the non-custodial parent. The court will evaluate the frequency and quality of the non-custodial parent’s visitation, as well as the distance and financial burden of maintaining the relationship after the move.

The court will also consider the custodial parent’s reasons for the move, whether it is in good faith, and whether there are any alternative arrangements that could satisfy the custodial parent’s interests without moving the child.

The court will also examine the child’s preference, depending on the child’s age and maturity level, as well as any special needs, relationships with siblings, and social ties in the current community.

Additionally, the court will evaluate the non-custodial parent’s reasons for opposing the move, including any negative impact it may have on their relationship with the child, and whether they have demonstrated a commitment to maintaining a meaningful relationship with the child.

Finally, the court will assess the feasibility of implementing a visitation schedule that allows the non-custodial parent to maintain a meaningful relationship with the child after the move.

In summary, the court will consider several factors, including the quality of life for the custodial parent and child, the disruption to the relationship with the non-custodial parent, the reasons for the move, the child’s preferences, and the feasibility of visitation after the move, before deciding whether to grant or deny a request for relocation.

What Happens At A Relocation Hearing?

The relocation hearing is likely to feature testimony from each parent. The hearing will also include testimony from any experts or guardians appointed in your case. You should bring any witnesses or additional proof, such as transcripts from your previous schools, and information about your new community, that is pertinent to your case.

A parent’s good faith reasons for moving, the effect on visitation, and how the move would affect a child’s overall best interests are the only factors a court will consider. A judge will at least examine the following factors when assessing what is in a child’s best interests:

  • the parent’s reasons for the move
  • the non-moving parent’s reasons for opposing the relocation
  • the child’s relationship with each parent
  • the move’s impact on the quality and quantity of the child’s future contact with the non-custodial parent
  • how the move will enhance the child’s life educationally, emotionally, and financially, and
  • the feasibility of visitation arrangements with the non-custodial parent following the move.

For instance, in one New York case, the mother of the child was given permission to relocate 130 miles away with the children of the couple. The mother had remarried, was expecting a second child, and her new husband owned an architecture firm in the new area, so the court determined that the transfer was reasonable and in the children’s best interests. The court also found that although the father’s visitation would be lessened, it wouldn’t be significantly affected by a move.

The court turned down a mother’s request to relocate across the state with her children in another New York case. Once the mother moved a few hundred miles away with her lover, the father was designated as the child’s primary custodial parent. Later, when her employment required her to relocate several hours away, the mother asked the court for permission to do so. However, the court refused her request because the children were already living with their father, she had made no attempt to find local employment, and she had acknowledged that the father was a positive influence on the kids. The court ultimately concluded that the children’s best interests were not served by the transfer.

How Do I Win A Relocation Custody Case In NY?

Winning a relocation custody case in New York requires a thorough understanding of the legal process and a compelling argument that demonstrates how the proposed relocation is in the best interests of the child. Here are some steps you can take to increase your chances of winning a relocation custody case in NY:

  • Hire an experienced family law attorney: An experienced family law attorney can guide you through the legal process and provide you with the best possible representation in court.
  • Gather evidence: You will need to provide evidence that demonstrates how the proposed move will benefit your child’s quality of life, such as better employment opportunities, a safer neighborhood, or access to better schools and healthcare facilities. You should also gather evidence that shows that the non-custodial parent’s relationship with the child will not be significantly disrupted by the move.
  • Prepare a strong argument: You will need to present a persuasive argument that explains why the proposed move is in the best interests of your child. This argument should be supported by the evidence you have gathered and should address any concerns that the court may have regarding the proposed move.
  • Be flexible: If the court is not convinced that the proposed move is in the best interests of your child, be prepared to consider alternative arrangements that may satisfy your interests without moving the child.
  • Maintain a positive relationship with the non-custodial parent: Demonstrating a commitment to maintaining a meaningful relationship between your child and the non-custodial parent can go a long way in convincing the court that the proposed move will not significantly disrupt the relationship.
  • Be prepared for opposition: The non-custodial parent may oppose the proposed move, so be prepared to address any concerns they may have and provide evidence that shows that the move will not significantly disrupt their relationship with the child.

Ultimately, winning a relocation custody case in New York requires a strong argument supported by evidence that demonstrates how the proposed move is in the best interests of the child. An experienced family law attorney can help you navigate the legal process and provide you with the best possible representation in court.

At What Age Can A Child Choose Which Parent To Live With In NY?

In New York, there is no specific age at which a child can choose which parent to live with. Instead, the court will consider the child’s preferences, along with other factors, when making a custody determination.

The court will consider the child’s age, maturity level, and ability to understand the consequences of their choices. The court will also consider the child’s relationship with each parent, the child’s relationship with siblings and other family members, and any special needs or circumstances of the child.

In general, the older and more mature a child is, the more weight the court will give to their preferences. However, the child’s preferences are just one factor that the court will consider when making a custody determination, and the court will always prioritize the best interests of the child.

It’s important to note that a child’s preference alone does not determine the outcome of a custody case. The court will also consider other factors such as each parent’s ability to provide for the child’s physical and emotional needs, the child’s relationship with each parent, and any history of abuse or neglect.

Does NY Favor Mothers In Custody Cases?

No, New York does not favor mothers in custody cases. Under New York law, the court must base its custody decision on the best interests of the child, without giving preference to either parent based on their gender.

In fact, New York has a “gender-neutral” custody law that requires the court to make a custody determination based on the best interests of the child, taking into account factors such as the child’s relationship with each parent, each parent’s ability to provide for the child’s needs, and any history of abuse or neglect.

While there may be a perception that mothers are more likely to be awarded custody, this is not the case under New York law. The court will make a custody determination based on the specific facts and circumstances of each case, without giving preference to either parent based on their gender.

It’s also worth noting that joint custody is becoming more common in New York, with the court often preferring to award joint legal custody, which allows both parents to have a say in important decisions affecting the child’s welfare, and joint physical custody, which allows the child to spend significant time with both parents.

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