Sometimes the custodial parent decides to move with a child. However, such relocation may deprive the non-custodial parent of regular parenting time with the child, even if the move is for a very good reason. Relocation may also deprive the child of access to the non-custodial parent.

Many child custody orders and agreements address relocation. Either the judge orders, or the parents agree, that the custodial parent must remain within a limited geographical region (e.g. the Borough of Manhattan or within New York City). If your child custody order does not address relocation, the custodial parent will have to ask the court for permission to relocate. And, even if there is a right to move in the agreement, it is a good idea to work out a new parenting time arrangement with the non-custodial parent or seek a court order to ensure the move is approved by the court. The court will decide whether the relocation is in the best interest of the child. In making this decision, the court will consider the following:

  • Each parent’s reasons for seeking the relocation or fighting against the relocation;
  • The quality of the child’s relationship with each parent;
  • The impact relocation will have on the child’s future contact with the non-custodial parent and any other children (i.e., courts would rather not split up siblings, if possible);
  • The degree to which the relocation may make the child’s life better, including financially, emotionally, and educationally; and
  • The ability to maintain a good relationship between the non-custodial parent and the child through other visitation arrangements.

In any situation, it is usually best for a custodial parent to get written confirmation from the non-custodial parent saying that the non-custodial parent consents to the relocation, or to secure a Court Order permitting the relocation.

Legal Editors: Robert H. Moses, September 2015 (updated July 2020)

Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service with the help and assistance of volunteer legal editors, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer.

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