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Can I prevent my co-parent from moving with my child?

Although custody orders are meant to be permanent, realistically, they rarely are. Change happens in life, and sometimes one parent may want to relocate with the child.

Depending on the distance and reasons for the move, you might be opposed to it. Most relocations of a significant distance will involve a modification of the custody order.

If you are the parent who is not moving, you may oppose the move because you do not want to miss out on time with your child. Perhaps you have shared custody and this will no longer be possible because of the distance. What can you do?

Some relocations require court approval

New York law does not allow a parent to relocate with a child without the other parent’s permission. This typically does not apply to minor moves, such as moves that will not require an adjustment to the custody schedule.

There is no set number of miles the move must be before a parent’s permission is necessary. However, generally if the relocation would impact the other parent’s time with the child, the court must approve the relocation.

The parent who wishes to move must file a relocation with the court. If you oppose the move, you must file a response to the petition.

Why you must respond if you oppose the relocation

This is extremely important. If you do not file a response letting the court know you object to the move, the court will assume that you consent to it and will likely grant the petition.

After you file your response objecting to a relocation, a hearing will be held. This is your chance to present your reasons why you do not want your co-parent moving with your child.

There court examines several factors when deciding whether to allow the relocation. The factors are based on the best interest of the child standard used when making custody decisions in New York.

Some of the factors include the reason for the relocation, the effect the relocation will have on the non-moving parent and the ability of the child to have a meaningful relationship with the other parent.

You must present evidence showing why it is in your child’s best interest to remain where they are.

Arguing against the reason for the move

The reason for the move is probably the first factor the court will analyze. While you have no control over the reason, you can still argue as to why it is better for your child to remain where they are.

Generally, moving for a new job offer, promotion or to be closer to family are stronger reasons for wanting to move for a new paramour or for no reason at all.

Even if the reason is strong, you can still typically find arguments to support why the relocation should not happen.

For example, if your co-parent received a new job offer, but the new job provides no additional benefits than their current job, you can argue that it is not worth disrupting your child’s life and taking them away from their other parent for a job that is essentially the same.

Act fast to protect your rights

The good news is that if you can show you have established a close relationship and strong bond with your child, most courts will be hesitant to disrupt that, no matter the reason for the move.

It is important to act quickly if you learn your co-parent wants to move with your child. Allowing them to move or not responding to their relocation petition deprives you of your rights as a parent.