Custodial Parent Makes a Request to Relocate
In this case, the parties were divorced by judgment dated February 13, 2003. The Appellant father appealed from the order of the Supreme Court, Queens County dated August 28, 2009, which granted the Respondent mother's motion for permission to relocate to North Carolina with the parties’ child.
A New York Family Lawyer said the parties in this case separated shortly after their daughter was born in 2000. They divorced in 2003, after a 2 1/2-year marriage. While the Respondent mother had child custody pursuant to a stipulation of settlement in the divorce proceeding, the child spent the first three weekends of each month with the Appellant father and his family, in addition to holidays and summer vacation.
The Respondent mother moved in the Supreme Court for permission to relocate to North Carolina with the child. At an expedited hearing, Respondent mother asserted that she desired a new beginning for herself and the child and that they would enjoy a higher standard of living and an improved quality of life. A New York Custody Lawyer said while Respondent mother initially proposed continuing the Appellant father's existing visitation and bearing the expense of flying the child to New York three times per month, she subsequently suggested reducing the Appellant father's visitation to one visit per month, with extended summer vacation.
The issue here is whether the appealed decision benefits the best interest of the child.
In reviewing a custodial parent's request to relocate, the Supreme Court's primary focus must be on the best interests of the child as established in the case of Matter of Tropea v. Tropea, . A Bronx Family Lawyer said it is a well-entrenched doctrine that the custodial parent must demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that the proposed move is in the child's best interests.
In the case of Matter of Tropea v. Tropea, the Court explained that the factors to be considered "include, but are certainly not limited to, each parent's reasons for seeking or opposing the move, the quality of the relationships between the child and the custodial and noncustodial parents, the impact of the move on the quantity and quality of the child's future contact with the noncustodial parent, the degree to which the custodial parent's and child's life may be enhanced economically, emotionally, and educationally by the move, and the feasibility of preserving the relationship between the noncustodial parent and child through suitable visitation arrangements. Indeed, even where the move would leave the noncustodial parent with what may be considered 'meaningful access,' there is still a need to weigh the effect of the quantitative and qualitative losses that naturally will result against such other relevant factors as the custodial parent's reasons for wanting to relocate and the benefits that the child may enjoy or the harm that may ensue if the move is or is not permitted".
In this case, the Court held that the records of the case lacked a sound and substantial basis for the Supreme Court's determination that the proposed relocation was in the child's best interests. Respondent mother's proposed employment situation in North Carolina was tenuous at best, the Appellant father's visitation with the child would be dramatically reduced by the relocation, and Respondent mother failed to demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that the proposed move would enhance the child's life economically, emotionally, and educationally. Accordingly, a Bronx Custody Lawyer said the court referred the matter back to the Supreme Court, Queens County, to direct Respondent mother to produce the child in the State of New York and to determine the date upon which the child must be produced.
The court reversed the appealed order insofar as appealed from, on the law, with costs, Respondent mother's motion for permission to relocate to North Carolina with the parties' child was denied.
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