What Is Considered Actual Relocation With A Child Under New York State Law?
To my current knowledge, there is no actual statue that defines “actual relocation” with a child under New York State Law. However, there is a common (though somewhat broad) notion about the term and its meaning within the New York State Court System.
Often, the notion about what constitutes “actual relocation” with a child is dependent on the facts of each case. However, certain acts will usually be considered actual relocation. For example, moving to a different state with your child will certainly be considered relocation in the vast majority of cases, since moving to another state means leaving the jurisdiction of the New York State Court.
It is often considered relocation if a parent leaves the city or town that they formerly lived in with their child. It is even more often considered relocation if a parent leaves the county that they formerly lived in with their child.
A lot of times, custody and visitation orders or stipulations will specify what will be considered “actual relocation” in that specific case. For example, orders/stipulations might specify, say, a 20-mile radius as an acceptable distance to move without constituting actual relocation with the child/children.
The definition of actual relocation in these cases is important, because if a parent wants to relocate beyond the accepted radius, then they would have to seek the permission of the court to do so. In many cases, the court will draw the line at moving across state lines, holding that any move that has the parent/child leaving the state (aka the jurisdiction of the court) requires permission from the court.
The other factor that plays into what is considered “actual relocation” has to do with visitation access. As a rule, any relocation that makes the ordered parenting schedule impossible due to distance would be considered an actual relocation.
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On the other hand, if you can stay within the same school area or if the visitation schedule can be kept after you’ve moved, then normally that move would not be considered an actual relocation, and you probably would not need permission of the court.
It should be noted that not all custody orders or agreements have anything written about relocation. In those cases, there’s nothing to stop a parent from relocating as long as the visitation or parenting time orders can be complied with.
When Is The Court Most Likely To Approve A Move That Constitutes Actual Relocation?
In New York, the rules for actual relocation—and when permission ought to be granted for moves that constitute actual relocation—have changed over time. The last time they were significantly changed was around 10 years ago. Due to those changes, it is actually easier now to get actual relocation approved.
If you are seeking approval for actual relocation, you simply have to show that it’s in the best interest of the child to relocate. You can show, for instance, that the move will allow the custodial parent to have a better income and be able to provide a more comfortable life for the child. You can show that the neighborhood you want to move to is safer than the neighborhood where you live now, or that the schools in the area are better for the child.
When making these points, you must also try to show that parenting time for any children will not be affected by the move, and that parenting time for the other parent will not be made completely impossible.
Those are some of the factors that a court will consider. There are no hard and fast rules about it, per se. However, the one determining factor that can be identified is what is in the best interest of the child.
How Far Away Can You Actually Move Or Relocate With A Child In New York?
If you are staying within New York State, there are no hard and fast rules about how far away is too far. Typically, though, custody orders or agreements will have a limit on how far either parent can move away with the child, either in terms of mileage or in terms of not leaving a specific city or jurisdiction. Other than that, if the move does not impact the non-custodial parent’s time with the child, moves within New York State will usually be allowed.
Can New York Family Court Stop Me From Moving With My Child?
Yes, the New York Family Court can stop you from moving with your child in certain circumstances. Typically, if a case is pending—say, a custody or visitation case is pending in the court—and either party asks to move a certain distance away with the child, the court will deny the request. Sometimes, the court will actually proactively enter an order saying that the child cannot be relocated outside of a certain distance without court approval, pending the outcome of the case.
If one parent gets information or becomes aware that the other parent is planning on moving with their child, that parent can go to court to stop the relocation. The court will usually do so, pending a decision being made in the custody or visitation case. They will often issue an order stating that the child cannot be relocated outside of a certain area until the court decides on what is in the best interest of the child.
Do New York Courts Ever Deny Relocation With A Child?
Yes: New York Courts can, will, and do deny relocation with a child. They usually do so if they find that the move is not in the best interest of the child, typically because it would severely impact the parenting time of the non-custodial parent. If the custodial parent wants to move, for instance, across the country from New York to California, it would be very difficult to justify such a move, unless there are some very significant factors that show that the move is in the best interest of the child.
Otherwise, the impact on the non-custodial parent’s parenting time would be so severe that it would be difficult to justify. It is almost always considered to be in the best interest of the child (barring cases of abuse or neglect) for the child to have access to parenting time by both parents. If the custodial parent moves across the country, the non-custodial parent would not reliably be able to have weekends with the child or to regularly participate in the child’s life and activities during the week. Sometimes, alternative arrangements are made. For instance, an agreement may be reached between the parents that the move will be allowed so long as the child spends the entire summer and/or school breaks with the non-custodial parent. Otherwise, though, it can be very difficult to get a court to approve of such a long-distance move.
In most cases, disputes about a custodial parent’s desired move with their child/children are settled out of court, sometimes through facilitated mediation. However, in some cases, all remedies outside the court room fail, and the case proceeds to trial. If it does go on to a trial, the factor directing the decision of the court would be deciding whether the move ultimately would be in the best interest of the child.
Technically, it is also possible for a court to undo a move that has already been made, especially if it has been made in flagrant violation of a standing order or agreement. For instance, let’s say there was an order barring moves with the child outside of New York State, but a parent moves with the child to California anyway. In that case, the court can order the parent to come back to New York with the child.
Of course, that is a very difficult situation for all parties and for the court, so it is not advisable to go through that avenue if it is avoided, and in practice it is not typically undertaken. However, if it becomes necessary, it can theoretically be done.
If Relocation With A Child Is Approved By The New York Court, Will Visitation With The Other Parent (Along With The Cost Of Travel) Also Be Adjusted?
Depending on the move, visitation orders or agreements may have to be changed. If a parent moves from New York City to Hoboken, New Jersey, then that may not affect visitation very much. It may require some slight modification, but the standing structure of the order should be able to remain the same. If it’s a move that is farther away, then obviously that may make certain kinds of visitation impossible. In those cases, visitation agreements and orders would have to be adjusted accordingly.
Typically, if a custodial parent moves and it’s not through any fault of the other parent, that parent who moved will often be responsible for the cost of visitation. They may be responsible for paying for plane tickets or train tickets or however else the child will have to be transported back and forth between the two parents.
In certain circumstances, if that parent doesn’t have any real income, the court may require the other parent to pay for the cost of the visits, but unless there’s an extreme situation like that, typically, if a parent moves, they’re going to be responsible to pay the costs of the visits.
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