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Can your ex-spouse move the kids to another state?

When you decided to end your marriage, you probably had a list of reasons it simply was not working. Still, if you share children with your ex-spouse, you likely cannot cut him or her out of your life forever. This may be true whether you are a custodial or non-custodial parent.

Often, parents who have primary custody believe they can do whatever they want with the children, including moving the kids across New York or to a different state. Luckily, this is not true.

New York’s protection of parental rights

While many other states give custodial parents broad flexibility to move, New York law aggressively protects the parental rights of non-custodial ones. In fact, if a non-custodial parent objects to the move, the custodial parent must obtain special permission from the court to relocate the kids. If the custodial parent ignores this requirement, he or she may lose custody.

The best interests of the child standard

When making custody-related decisions, judges in the Empire State have a legal duty to consider the best interests of the child. If you object to your ex-spouse’s move, you should prepare yourself to provide evidence of why the move does not comport with this standard.

Specifically, the judge is likely to want you to address the following factors:

  • Your rationale for objecting to the proposed move
  • The nature of your relationship with your kids
  • The effects the relocation would have on your relationship with your children
  • The benefits the move offers to your kids and ex-spouse
  • Your options for maintaining your relationship with your kids after the relocation

If you can provide enough evidence to show the move runs counter to the best interests of your children, a judge may intervene to stop the planned relocation. Ultimately, though, you must act quickly both to assert your parental rights and protect the good relationship you have with your kids.