Relocating After a Divorce. What are the Rules?
Well, that’s a good question. Can you just relocate after a divorce? It depends on if you have kids. If the answer is “yes,” then it is not a matter of yes or no. It is going to be about the set of circumstances in a particular case. Each case is different and will be evaluated by the court on a case by case basis. Ultimately the court looks at what is in the “best interest of the child.”
The ruling case law on this issue is Tropea v. Tropea & Browner v. Kenward, 87 NY2d 727, 642 NYS2d 575 (Court of Appeals, 1996):
The Tropea decision is ruling law for relocation cases. Both custodial and noncustodial parents are protected by this law. All parents who either want to relocated with their children or prevent the other parent from relocating must make a determination based on Tropea. In Tropea The Court of Appeals held that each relocation case will be evaluated on its own merits with “due consideration of all the relevant facts and circumstances and with predominant emphasis being placed on what outcome is most likely to serve the best interests of the child.”
HOW DOES THE COURT DETERMINE WHAT IS IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD?
There are ten basic factors that the Court looks to:
1) the reasons for seeking or opposing the move;
2)the quality of relationships between child/ren and parents;
3)the impact of move on the quantity and quality of future contact with noncustodial parent;
4)whether the custodial parent’s and child’s life may be enhanced economically, emotionally and educationally by the move;
5)whether preserving the relationship between the noncustodial parent and child through suitable alternate visitation arrangements can be accomplished.
6)The good faith of the parents in requesting or opposing the move.
7)The child?s respective attachments to the custodial and non-custodial parent.
8) The possibility of devising a visitation schedule that will enable the non-custodial parent to maintain a meaningful parent-child relationship.
9) The quality of the lifestyle that the child would have if the proposed move were permitted or denied.
10.) The negative impact, if any, from continued or exacerbated hostility between the custodial and non-custodial parents.
The whole point is that no parent can unilaterally stop the other from relocating or moving on with their lives but that right has to be weighed against the child’s right to have a relationship with both parents, and ultimately, the child’s “best interest.”