When a couple divorces in New York State, child custody and the possibility of future relocation will invariably come up if there are minor children involved.

In general, there are two types of custody arrangements: sole and joint. Both situations involve one parent receiving sole physical custody of the children while the other parent retains the right to visit and have a say in how the children are raised. Either arrangement can be complicated if the parent with physical custody wants to relocate.

In New York State, a parent must receive written permission from the other parent if he or she wants to move away and take any minor children with him or her. If the former couple cannot reach a consensus, the parent wanting to move must file a relocation petition in Supreme or Family Court, where a judge will decide the issue on the basis of the child’s best interests.

The factors that will be taken into account include, but are not limited to:

  • The reason for the move
  • The distance and necessary travel arrangements
  • How the move will impact the current parental visitation arrangement
  • The effect of the move on the noncustodial parent
  • Whether or not the parent wanting to move has violated prior court orders
  • Whether or not the move will disrupt any important relationships in the children’s’ lives, such as grandparents and extended family
  • The child’s anticipated living conditions in the new location, as well as access to educational, recreational, and medical services

If the child is over a certain age and capable of making informed and intelligent decisions, then a judge will appoint an attorney for the attorney and will take his or her wishes into account.

A relocation decision must be made in good faith. If it is apparent that the custodial parent’s decision to move is driven by a desire to “get back at” or hurt his or her former spouse, then they risk an unfavorable court decision. The same principle applies to the parent contesting the move: if their actions appear to be motivated by spite, then a judge will conclude that they are acting in the best interests of the children and disregard their objections.

Any parent who wishes to relocate with their child—especially if the move is out of state—and is encountering resistance from their former spouse should contact a New York child custody and relocation attorney who can provide them with solid legal advice and inform them of all the options available in their particular case.

Relocation cases can take a long time to resolve, so the custodial parent should hire competent and experienced legal counsel as soon as problems become evident. That way a move that is in the child’s best interests may not be hindered or even prevented by a former spouse whose agenda is more self-serving. Jayson Lutzky is a Bronx, NY divorce and family law attorney with over 33 years of experience as a lawyer. He handles child custody cases in New York courts on a regular basis. Call 718-514-6619 to set up a free in-person consultation and visit www.MyNewYorkCityLawyer.com to learn more about NY family law.