Cases in which a New York custodial parent's desire to relocate conflicts with the desire of a noncustodial parent to maximize visitation opportunity are complex circumstances that are determined by New York Family Court judges or hearing examiners on a case by case basis. In deciding whether to modify a custody arrangement the court must examine what arrangement would be in the child's best interest. See Freibergite v Friederwitzer, 55 NY2d 89, 93, (1982); Eschbach v Eschbach, 56 NY2d 167(1982).
In Tropea v Tropea, 87 NY2d 727(1996), the New York State Court of Appeals analyzed some of the factors that Courts in New York should consider in deciding a custodial parent's request for relocation. The court emphasized that the impact of the move on the relationship between the child and the noncustodial parent will remain a central concern.
These factors include, but are certainly not limited to:
a) Each parent's reasons for seeking or opposing the move;
b) The quality of the relationships between the child and the custodial and non-custodial parents;
c) The impact of the move on the quantity and quality of the child's future contact with the noncustodial parent;
d) The degree to which the custodial parent's and child's life may be enhanced economically, emotionally, and educationally by the move;
e) The effect that the move may have on any extended family relationships; and
f) The feasibility of preserving the relationship between the noncustodial parent and child through suitable visitation arrangements.
Where the custodial parent's reasons for moving are deemed valid and sound, the court in a proper case might consider the possibility and feasibility of a parallel move by an involved and committed noncustodial parent as an alternative to restricting a custodial parent's mobility.
Alternatively, where a child's ties to the noncustodial parent and to the community are so strong as to make a long-distance move undesirable, the availability of a transfer of custody as a realistic alternative to forcing the custodial parent to remain may have a significant impact on the outcome.
In sum, based on the totality of the circumstances and all of the proof, the court will determine whether the custodial parent has established by a preponderance of the evidence that a proposed relocation would serve the child's best interest.
Bronx divorce lawyer Bryan J. Hutchinson will fight for your right to custody and visitation. We represent divorce and family law clients for over 20 years in New York State Courts in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, Westchester, and Nassau Counties. Call the Law Office of Bryan J. Hutchinson, PLLC at (718) 671-0900 for a confidential consultation.