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Can you move with your child if you are subject to a custody order?

On Behalf of | Apr 1, 2024 | Child Custody & Parenting Time

When you are are a parent subject to a child custody order, it isn’t so easy to just pick up and move. This is particularly true if you are the primary custodial parent and you wish to move with your child.

Both parents have rights and responsibilities with respect to their child. Typically, these include the right to custody and visitation. Even if the child lives with one parent full-time, the other parent typically has the right to visit their child. Typically, the parents exercise this right according to a parenting time plan that is approved by the court. So, if the primary custodial parent wishes to move with the child, this affects the other parent’s rights to visitation and requires a change to the parenting plan and custody order.

New York law

It’s common for New York child custody orders to contain a provision about relocation. For instance, your child custody order may state that both parents and the child must remain living within Westchester County, or within the state of New York. If you wish to move with the child outside of the designated area, you must get approval from the other parent. It is best to get approval in writing.

If the other parent agrees to the move, you can work out the necessary modifications to your parenting plan and inform the court. If the parent disagrees, you will have to ask the court’s permission to move.

Best interests of the child

In these cases, the court must weigh each parent’s interests against each other, but the most important question is whether the court feels the relocation is in the best interests of the child. In making this determination, the court considers factors including:

  • The parents’ reasons for and against the move
  • The child’s relationship with each parent
  • How the move will affect the child’s relationship with the non-custodial parent and any siblings, and whether alternative visitation arrangements can help with any disruption
  • How the move could help the child’s educational, emotional and financial development

Of course, the parents usually understand their child better than a judge does. It’s always best if the parents can work out these matters themselves. Still, there are many cases in which the parents cannot see eye to eye on a relocation dispute. In these cases, it’s wise to seek out advice from experienced professionals.