This involves an appeal pertaining to the custodial parent’s request to relocate with the parties’ child. The appellate division granted the child’s custody in favor of the mother.
Petitioner mother and defendant father married in January 2004. A New York Family Lawyer said they were divorced a year and a half later. During their marriage, they had a child whose custody is the subject of this petition. The stipulation settling the divorce case granted the mother legal and physical custody of the child. The defendant father has had a history of irregular employment and is currently not employed.
The mother met her future husband on Match.com. The husband was retired from the Air Force, lived in North Carolina and was then involved in a nation-wide job search. Ultimately, Bonnar took a job with Northrop Grumman in San Diego. He had requested to work at Northrop Grumman’s Long Island branch, but the company could not accommodate his request. The mother and the future husband became engaged in May 2008.
Subsequently, a New York Criminal Lawyer explained that the mother approached the father about moving to California to live with her fiance. The defendant father was concerned about the distance and the stability of the mother’s new relationship. The parties therefore met with a mediator to try to work out an arrangement by which the mother could leave the child with the father temporarily while she settled in California. The mother left for California. She claims that she never intended the father to have permanent custody, but arrangements to move to California had become irreversible by the time she learned that the father did not agree.
The father filed a petition for sole legal and physical custody of the subject child, claiming that the mother had abandoned the child. The mother filed a petition for relocation. The court consolidated the two petitions. Before the hearing, the father withdrew his petition for sole custody. Accordingly, the court considered only the relocation application.
The Family Court granted the relocation application. It stated that while it is true that mother was young when the child was born, there is no question now that she is in a stable relationship, remarried and that her financial situation dictates that her family live where her husband can make a living. A Nassau County Family Lawyer said the benefits to the child were demonstrated by testimony and documentary evidence, as a suburban middle class lifestyle, public school with every possible amenity available at no cost, comprehensive health insurance , a stay at home mother, easily available excellent physicians, a positive post-divorce family unit and most importantly, the benefits of the child growing up on a daily basis.
The Court recognized and agonized at great length over the impact of the relocation on the child’s ability to maintain a consistent, ongoing and meaningful relationship with his Father. The visitation schedule set forth hereinafter is designed to mitigate such impact, given the distance between NewYork and California.
The Appellate Court found no reason to disturb the findings of the Family Court. Accordingly, there is sound and substantial basis in the record to grant the mother’s request to relocate in California with her son.
According to the appellate court, there is no question that the California home is financially more stable than the father’s home. A Queens Family Lawyer said the stepfather has a steady job that provides his family with health insurance. By contrast, the father is not currently working. Although he has been offered a job as a teacher’s aide, he has postponed his start date. He is currently on some type of public assistance and receives money from his parents in Ireland. He readily admits that “it’s not been easy like money wise.” He is not currently in a relationship. Given his bleak financial circumstances, with no career or family in NewYork, it would appear that there is nothing keeping the father from moving to San Diego himself to be closer to his son.
The record of the court reflected that the mother went out of her way to facilitate communication between the child and his father. The same could not be said of the father with respect to communication between the child and his mother. Finally, the child’s own attorney recommended that the court permit the mother to relocate with the child.
The Court stated that the dissenting opinion that the mother puts her own romantic interests ahead of her son’s welfare is rank speculation.
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