Relocation can be a thorny child custody issue

Family law judges in New York and around the country tend to favor joint custody arrangements as research shows that children are happier when they spend time with both of their parents following a divorce. Once these arrangements are in place, any changes must be approved by the court. Some custody agreements have provisions that deal specifically with relocation, but many do not. When relocation is covered, the agreement often states that custodial parents must remain in a specific area to ensure that noncustodial parents are able to see their children on a regular basis.
Petitioning the court
When custody agreements do not address relocation, custodial parents who wish to move to a different part of the state or country must first convince a judge that doing so would be in the best interests of the child. This could be difficult if the noncustodial parent objects to the move. However, there are situations where judges may be more willing to grant relocation requests.
The best interests of the child
Judges are more likely to approve a relocation if the noncustodial parent consents, but their primary concern is the effect the move would have on the child. Before making a decision, they will consider the age of the child, the relationship both parents have with the child, the reasons for the proposed move and the distance involved. Judges also bear in mind that relocation may disrupt the child’s education and deprive them of contact with their friends. However, these considerations may be offset somewhat if the relocation would significantly improve the child’s financial situation.
Resolving custody disputes
Disputes over child custody can become extremely contentious when parents become entrenched in their positions and negotiations break down, and reaching an agreement could be especially difficult if one of the parents plans to relocate. In these situations, experienced family law attorneys may remind parents that leaving these decisions up to a judge could lead to an unwanted outcome. When conventional negotiations fail to lead to an amicable settlement, attorneys could suggest exploring less adversarial alternatives to court like mediation.

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