7 Things Divorced Parents Need to Know About Relocating

7 Things Divorced Parents Need to Know About Relocating by Joshua Katz

{4:20 minutes to read} Under New York Law, a custodial parent cannot relocate to another state without consent from the other parent or a court order.  

Imagine you are a single parent who has been offered a great job in Denver. You might be ready to pack your bags – but, not so fast. Unless you have consent from the other parent, it will be up to the court to decide whether you can move. This may be true even if you have “sole custody” of the child(ren)!

Relocation is a difficult issue for family law practitioners. These cases are fact-intensive, and decisions are never easy. The courts are careful about allowing a custodial parent to relocate with a child because it interferes with relationships and the non-custodial parent’s access rights.

How does the court decide if a parent may relocate with a child?

The New York Court of Appeals set the precedent in deciding whether the mother could relocate in the case of Tropea v. Tropea (1996).

The following factors (I call “Tropea factors”) are the most important factors looked at by courts in deciding the best interests of a child in relocation cases:

  • The level of interference between the child and the non-custodial parent’s visitation: If the non-custodial parent has a close relationship with your child, which generally means spending time with the child on a regular basis, it will be more difficult to get a decision in favor of relocation.
  • The distance of the move: If the move is from Manhattan to Westchester, it will more likely be approved. An international, or out-of-state move, is less likely to be permitted.  
  • The reason/motivation for the move: Moving for employment would obviously be viewed more favorably than moving because your boyfriend lives in another state.  
  • The quality of life of the child: What benefits will your child (not you!) enjoy in the new place versus the current place? Will relocating put your child in a better environment where he will have greater opportunities for a better life? This is somewhat subjective, but a case can often be made to impress a judge.  Be careful not to insult the city where your judge grew up and raised her family! 
  • The existence of extended family nearby: If your child’s grandparents live in New York and the custodial parent wants to relocate to another state with no extended family nearby, the court would be less likely to approve. 
  • The quality of education: Check the school district in the new location, gather information and be prepared to compare it to your child’s current school. 
  • The child’s wishes: Is your child in favor of the move or upset about leaving his current home and friends?

There are many other factors that the court may wish to consider. If the court approves the relocation it may also address other matters, such as skype conversations to support the non-custodial parent’s relationship, or lowering child support payments to offset the increased cost of visitation.

Every relocation case in unique. If you are looking for permission to relocate with a child, call our office for a consultation.

What facts would you present to the court to support your petition to relocate?


Plaine & Katz, LLP
80-02 Kew Gardens Rd.
Suite # 1050
Kew Gardens, NY 11415
Website: PlaineKatz.com
Email: josh@plainekatz.com, mark@plainekatz.com

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