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Posted on February 12, 2024

How Far Can a Parent Move with Joint Custody in New York?

Joint legal custody is a common arrangement in family law where both parents share the legal responsibility for raising their children, even though the children may reside primarily with one parent. However, these arrangements can often be difficult to navigate, especially when one parent wishes to relocate. In New York State, parents with joint custody must adhere to strict guidelines when deciding how far a parent can move while still maintaining joint custody agreements. It is important for parents to understand these guidelines to avoid legal disputes and potentially damaging effects on their children.

When it comes to resolving disputes related to child custody and relocation, seeking the assistance of a knowledgeable New York child custody attorney can prove invaluable. At The Law Office of Richard Roman Shum, divorce lawyer Richard Roman Shum and our team of experienced Manhattan family law attorneys may be able to provide critical guidance and advocacy during the legal process. From interpreting state laws and regulations to negotiating with the other parent and representing your interests in court, our team can help ensure that your rights as a parent are protected. Contact us today at (646) 259-3416 to learn more about how we can help.

Definition of Joint Custody in New York

When parents with children get divorced, the issue of child custody often becomes contentious. In New York, joint custody is defined as an arrangement in which both parents have legal and physical custody of the child. Legal custody entails the right to make major decisions for the child, while physical custody deals with where the child will primarily reside. 

In joint custody arrangements, both parents share these responsibilities. This ensures that both parents have a say in important decisions that affect their child’s future, such as education, healthcare, and religion. New York law requires both parents to form an agreement on joint custody, and it must be in the best interest of the child for a judge to approve it.

Types of Joint Custody in New York

When it comes to joint custody, New York recognizes two types: joint legal custody and joint physical custody. 

Joint legal custody refers to both parents having an equal say in important decisions that affect their child’s life, such as medical care and education. Joint physical custody, on the other hand, refers to the amount of time each parent spends with the child. It is possible for parents to have joint legal custody but not joint physical custody, or vice versa. 

In some cases, joint legal and physical custody may be granted. However, this is only done if it is in the child’s best interests, which can be determined by various factors, including the parents’ ability to cooperate and communicate effectively to make decisions regarding their child’s well-being.

Factors Considered in Determining Joint Custody

When determining joint custody arrangements in New York, there are several factors that the court will consider. 

Co-Parenting Abilities

The ability of parents to effectively co-parent remains crucial even when they no longer live together. It is important to recognize that co-parents may occasionally have minor disagreements, as even married parents may not always see eye to eye on parenting decisions. However, the court requires assurance that both parents are capable of working through these disagreements and making compromises that result in mutually agreed-upon decisions. If one parent consistently undermines the other and fails to prioritize the child’s best interests over their own agenda, it raises concerns during the court’s evaluation.

Emotional and Physical Capacity

The court will also evaluate whether both parents have the emotional and physical capacity to adequately care for the child. For example, a parent struggling with substance abuse issues may be unable to provide the necessary stability and care that the child requires.


Children thrive when they have consistency in their lives, which fosters a sense of security. Knowing the parent’s regular schedule for coming home, dinner, bedtime routine, and other predictable aspects of their daily life is crucial for a child’s well-being. If a parent is unwilling or unable to adjust their lifestyle to meet these needs, the court will take this into consideration, significantly reducing their chances of obtaining custody.

History of Domestic Violence

If a parent has a documented history of domestic violence towards the other parent or the child, it is highly unlikely that they will be granted custody. In such cases, the court often grants limited visitation rights, and depending on the severity of the violence, may even require supervised visitation.

Ultimately, the court will strive to create a custody arrangement that is in the child’s best interests while also taking into account each parent’s rights and responsibilities. It is important for parents to present evidence and arguments in court that support their case for joint custody and show that they are capable of meeting their child’s needs.

Factors Considered in Determining Joint Custody Description
Co-Parenting Abilities The ability of parents to effectively co-parent and make mutually agreed-upon decisions.
Emotional and Physical Capacity Evaluation of both parents’ emotional and physical capacity to provide adequate care for the child.
Consistency The ability of a parent to provide consistency and stability in the child’s daily life.
Prior Domestic Violence Any documented history of domestic violence towards the other parent or the child.

Can a Parent Take a Child Out of State Without the Other Parent’s Consent in New York?

In New York, the relocation of a child out of state by a custodial parent is a matter that requires careful legal consideration, especially when the non-custodial parent does not consent. Without appropriate consent or court approval, the parent may face legal consequences.

A parent with physical custody must either obtain consent from the non-custodial parent or seek approval from the family court before relocating a child out of New York. Failure to comply with this requirement can result in being charged with contempt of the custody agreement. This violation might lead to fines, penalties, and even jail time, underscoring the gravity of the situation.

The court’s primary focus is the child’s best interests. The custodial parent should meticulously review any custody and court-ordered agreements before making relocation decisions. If there is a significant reason for the move, such as a new job, remarriage, or educational pursuits that promise better financial opportunities, the court may grant a modification of the custody order.

It is crucial for a custodial parent contemplating an out-of-state move with their child to consult with a Manhattan family law attorney to avoid violating custody or visitation orders and to protect their and their child’s interests. For comprehensive legal guidance, contact The Law Office of Richard Roman Shum to navigate these complex custody matters.

Manhattan child custody attorney

Parental Relocation Laws in New York

Parental relocation refers to the act of a parent with custody moving from their current residence to a new one. In the context of joint custody arrangements in New York, parental relocation can have significant consequences for the non-moving parent, the child, and the overall arrangement. It is important to differentiate between relocation that is within the same geographical area and relocation that involves a significant distance.

Laws Governing Parental Relocation in New York

When a parent with custody of a child decides to relocate, it can potentially disrupt the regular parenting time of the non-custodial parent and limit the child’s access to them. Child custody orders and agreements typically address the issue of relocation. In some cases, a judge may require or the parents may agree that the custodial parent must remain within a specific geographical area, such as a city or borough. If the child custody order does not include provisions for relocation, the custodial parent will need to seek permission from the court to move.

Even if the agreement grants the right to move, it is recommended for the custodial parent to establish a new parenting time arrangement with the non-custodial parent or obtain a court order to ensure the move is approved. The court’s primary consideration in such cases is the best interest of the child. Factors that the court will consider when deciding on relocation include:

  • The reasons behind each parent’s desire to either relocate or oppose the relocation.
  • The quality of the child’s relationship with each parent.
  • The potential impact of the move on the child’s future contact with the non-custodial parent and any siblings (if separating siblings can be avoided, the court may prefer that).
  • The potential improvement in the child’s life, including financial, emotional, and educational aspects, as a result of the relocation.
  • The ability to maintain a positive relationship between the non-custodial parent and the child through alternative visitation arrangements.

In any situation involving relocation, it is generally recommended for the custodial parent to obtain written confirmation from the non-custodial parent consenting to the move or to obtain a court order allowing the relocation to proceed.

Notice Requirements for Parental Relocation

Notice requirements for parental relocation are an essential component of joint custody arrangements in New York. According to New York law, a parent intending to relocate with a child after a divorce or separation must provide written notice to the other parent within a specific time frame. The notice must contain the intended date of relocation, the address of the new residence, and the reasons for the move. 

It is important to note that a failure to provide written notice could result in a modification of custody arrangements or even contempt of court. Moreover, the notice must be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, or by personal delivery with proof of receipt. The receiving parent has legal remedies to challenge the proposed relocation, such as filing an objection with the court or seeking an expedited hearing. In some cases, the parties may attempt to reach an agreement which considers the best interests of the child, such as a revised schedule of visitation. 

However, absent an agreement, the court will review the circumstances under the factors considered in determining parental relocation in making a final determination.

Factors Considered in Determining Parental Relocation

When a parent with joint custody wishes to relocate with their child, the court must consider several factors before allowing or denying the move. Some of the factors that will be taken into account include:

  • Child’s relationship with both parents
  • Impact on the child’s education and social life
  • Ability of the non-moving parent to maintain a relationship with the child
  • Availability of alternative arrangements for the child to maintain a relationship with the non-moving parent
  • Past and present fitness of each parent
  • Favorability of the moving parent’s employment and economic opportunities compared to the non-moving parent in New York
  • Special needs or talents of the child
  • Quality of schools, medical facilities, and other services in both locations
  • Any other factors relevant to the best interests of the child 

Overall, the court will always prioritize the well-being of the child when making a decision about relocation.

Importance of Consulting with a Skilled New York Child Custody Attorney for Parental Relocation Cases

It is incredibly important for parents dealing with joint custody and parental relocation cases in New York to consult with an experienced attorney. These cases can often be complex and emotionally charged, and having a knowledgeable legal professional on your side can make all the difference. An attorney can help you understand your rights and obligations under New York law, as well as the many factors that the court will consider when making decisions about parental relocation. They can also provide guidance and support throughout the process, from negotiating with your co-parent to representing you in court if necessary.

At The Law Office of Richard Roman Shum, our skilled New York family lawyers may be able to help parents navigate the intricacies of joint custody and parental relocation cases in a compassionate and understanding manner. Our team understands the emotional toll that these cases can take on families and strives to provide personalized attention and guidance tailored to each client’s unique situation. Whether it involves negotiating a fair custody arrangement or presenting a strong case in court, the attorneys at The Law Office of Richard Roman Shum are dedicated to achieving the best possible outcome for their clients and ensuring that their children’s needs are prioritized throughout the process. Contact us today at (646) 259-3416 to schedule a consultation.

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