What Is the Legal Process to Relocate with My Child?

When a judge finalizes your divorce, they issue child custody and child support court orders that state precise details and obligations both you and your former spouse have to take care of your child. This usually includes the radius in which the parents can live to make the transition easier for your child. However, you may decide to move farther away within your current state of residency, or to a different state. You cannot simply move forward with your parental relocation project without going through a specific legal process.

The state of New York recognizes both physical and legal custody for minor children. While a move does not prevent you and your co-parent from continuing to share legal or decision-making custody, physical custody is a different matter, especially if you plan to relocate as the custodial parent.

From informing your former spouse to provide acceptable reasons to a judge to receive approval for your move, you have several steps to take before relocating.

How Do I Request Parental Relocation in New York?

If you plan to relocate with your child, you need to notify your co-parent in writing.

This document should include:

  • Where you plan to relocate
  • Why you want to relocate
  • A proposed revised parenting plan if you receive approval to relocate

Talking with a family law attorney when you plan to do so can help you address all those points and see how you could effectively adapt your current parenting plan if you relocate.

Although New York does not specify a certain distance to make court decisions about your relocation, you need to attend a court hearing to present your case. As the parent who plans to relocate, you need to provide reasonable grounds for your decision and show how it will not negatively impact your child’s life.

What Factors Does the Court Consider When Evaluating a Relocation Petition?

Just like during the divorce proceedings, a judge’s primary focus when evaluating a relocation petition is the child’s best interests. While they examine a wide range of factors, the child’s quality of life is central to whether they approve the request.

A New York judge considers the following elements when you submit a parenting relocation petition:

  • Reasons for your relocation
  • Whether your co-parent accepts or disagrees with your request
  • The child’s relationships with each parent and extended family and their geographic location
  • Your original custody and visitation order
  • The child’s emotional and educational needs
  • The child’s preferences if they are old enough, usually at least 12 years old
  • The child’s social and educational opportunities at the proposed new location

If the judge and your former spouse accept your relocation plan, the court may need to modify your custody and visitation order to account for traveling time and whether you need to change the schedule due to the distance.

What Happens If the Other Parent Contests the Move?

If your former spouse objects to your relocation request, a judge will nevertheless review your case and hear both of you out.

If the judge approves the relocation, they may state certain conditions such as:

  • Agreeing that the custodial parent moves but that the child spends summers with the other parent
  • Increasing the frequency of virtual communication with the non-custodial parent

You and your former spouse can retain joint decision-making custody if you are allowed to relocate with your child.

When May a Judge Deny the Relocation Request?

If the court considers that you are willing to relocate out of spite towards your former spouse or that you have not notified them with enough time to think about your request, a court can deny your parenting relocation petition.

Generally speaking, a judge may not approve your request if they believe that it goes against your child’s best interests like if your new proposed location takes the child away from the rest of their family and may cause distress.

Does Moving Out of State Affect Child Support?

If you relocate to a different state, your child support order may require modifications. Not all states have the same child support laws, and most judges issue court rulings when both parents live in the same state. Consulting a reputable family law attorney can help you and your former spouse determine whether you need to amend child support payment and seek court approval for it.

Hire an Experienced Family Law Attorney to Simplify the Parenting Relocation Process

When it comes to family law matters, including parenting relocation, hiring a qualified lawyer can help you secure a positive outcome. If you are a custodial parent who wants to move farther than the original radius stated on your divorce ruling, you should ask an attorney to review your case. Since the burden of proof is on you as the parent who wishes to move, your lawyer can help you gather adequate documents and advise you on how to prepare for the hearing.

If you are the non-custodial parent and are contesting your former spouse’s petition to relocate, a lawyer can also assist you in building your case and show that the move would interfere with your child’s best interests.

Are you planning to relocate with your child and need qualified legal advice in Brooklyn or Kings County? Contact Arnel Law Firm today at (718) 550-3024 to schedule a consultation.