Whenever parents wants to relocate with the children, there is likely going to be objections from the other parent. Custody orders routinely include provisions that prevent one parent from permanently leaving the jurisdiction with the children without the consent of the other parent. In making a decision whether to permit a parent to relocate with the child, the court will consider what is in the best interests of the child.
In Dunn v Harris 2022 NY Slip Op 50641(U), the mother wished to relocate from New York to Denver, Colorado for a new job. The father objected. The mother responded by seeking legal custody and permission to relocate to Denver, Colorado.
The current 2021 order of custody granted the parents joint custody with the mother having primary physical custody and the father having liberal visitation. The mother was granted final decision-making authority. Once the father child-proofed his home and provided certain household items to ensure that the child had what she needed, the father was have the child overnight. However, the mother never permitted the father to have overnight visits.
The court found that the father was an involved father with a loving relationship with the child and was supportive of the child’s relationship with the mother. On the other hand the court found that the mother violated the terms of the custody order by not permitting the child to have overnight visits with the father and that she was generally not supportive of the child’s relationship with the father.
It is well established that when making decisions about custody, the child’s best interest is the primary concern. Determining what is in the best interests of a child requires considering a number issues. Here, the court looked at the financial resources of each parent, their living environments, and the extent that each parent actively sought to support the child’s relationship with the other parent.
When looking at the financial resources and employment of each parent, both struggled. The mother’s struggles appeared to be more of a choice. She chose to work part time instead of full-time, claiming that working full-time would interfered with her parenting. Her part time employment provided her with housing, some meals, and internet on a college campus. However, she left that employment and opted for gig work. When she did that, she ended living an extended stay housing. As a result, she earned minimal income and did not have permanent housing. She did fine a job in Denver that paid much more than she was currently making and she found what would be permanent housing there.
The father’s employment and financial struggles were associated with the pandemic. After losing 2 jobs due to the pandemic, he did find seasonal work and continued to search for full-time employment. He rented a condo where he lived for two years. The child had her own bedroom. The father has a background in childcare and spent a lot of time with the child participating in fun activities and activities that would help her development.
When it came to supporting each other’s relationship with the child, the mother made it clear by her words and her actions that she did not value the father and did not want him to be involved in the child’s life. She bullied him. She did not even tell him in advance that she was looking for a job out state or that she found one. He found out when she filed the petition requesting to relocate with the child. On the other hand, the father appeared to have been efforts to support the mother’s relationship with the child and took parenting classes.
Based on the information provided, the court denied the mother’s request to relocate with the child. The mother was expressly prohibited from leaving Tompkins County with the child. Furthermore, the court increased the father’s parenting time and gave the father final decision-making authority.