Court order allowing out-of-state parental relocation upheld on appeal

In the decision of Karen Michelle F. v. Wilfredo C., the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court upheld a Family Court ruling granting the mother’s request to relocate out of state with the parties’ minor child. The Appellate Division agreed that there was sufficient proof submitted to support the decision that the proposed relocation would serve the child’s best interests.

Economic factors are often cited by a parent as a basis for seeking court approval for relocation, such as where the custodial parent obtains a new job or the parent’s job is transferred to a new geographic location by the employer.

Another ground often asserted in a relocation request is the custodial parent’s enrollment in educational or job training opportunities to further the parent’s earning capabilities, job opportunities or career advancement.

Economic reasons resulting from the custodial parent’s remarriage are also frequently submitted as the basis for a request to relocate, as in cases where the custodial parent’s new spouse obtains a better employment opportunity in an out-of-state location.

Another ground often asserted in support of a custodial parent’s request to relocate with the child relates to extended family, typically a desire to live nearer to the custodial parent’s family.

BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

In 2012, the Family Court of Bronx County, New York, issued an order allowing a request by the mother to relocate from Bronx County to Florida with the parties’ four-year-old child. The father opposed the request and appealed the Family Court’s decision to the Appellate Division.

THE RULING BY THE NEW YORK SUPREME COURT, APPELLATE DIVISION

The Appellate Division upheld the Family Court’s decision. The Appellate Division noted that the Family Court had considered the factors relevant to the case and correctly concluded that the proposed relocation would serve the child’s best interests.

Although the child had a loving relationship with both parents, the mother had been the child’s primary caregiver. She was the parent who oversaw matters relating to the child’s day-to-day routine and she provided financial support for the child during the previous two and one-half year period.

There was also proof establishing that the proposed relocation to Florida would result in an improvement in the child’s quality of life.

The mother and her current husband both supported and encouraged a relationship between the child and the father.

While the relocation would affect the father’s ability to spend time with his child, the Family Court’s order established a liberal visitation schedule that would enable the father to maintain a meaningful relationship with the child.

The Appellative Division rejected the father’s argument that the Family Court failed to properly consider the ability of the parties to split the additional travel costs that would be incurred as a result of the child’s relocation to Florida. The father had not been straightforward about his finances and there was no evidence that the mother and her current husband would be unable to pay their share of the additional travel costs.

CONSULT AN ATTORNEY

When you are confronted with an issue that involves divorce, child custody or other domestic relations matters, you should consult with a competent attorney, experienced in such matters for the protection of their legal rights.

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