What are New York's laws on parental relocation with a child?

Understanding Parental Relocation Laws in New York

Parental relocation is a significant issue in family law, particularly when it involves moving a considerable distance away with a child. In New York, these laws are designed to balance the custodial parent's right to move for legitimate reasons, such as employment opportunities or remarriage, against the non-custodial parent's right to maintain a relationship with their child.

The Legal Framework

The seminal case in New York concerning parental relocation with a child is Tropea v. Tropea, decided in 1996. The New York Court of Appeals in Tropea established a framework for evaluating relocation requests. Previously, courts applied a presumption against relocation, but Tropea shifted this to a more balanced approach that evaluates each case's unique circumstances.

Critical Factors Considered by Courts

When deliberating on a parental relocation request, New York courts consider several factors:

Procedure for Requesting Relocation

A custodial parent who wishes to relocate with their child must petition the court for permission if the other parent does not consent to the move. The burden of proof is on the custodial parent to demonstrate that the relocation would be in the best interest of the child.

Case Examples

In Matter of Tropea v. Tropea, the court permitted a mother to relocate with her children from central to western New York to improve her economic situation and live closer to her extended family. In contrast, in Matter of Smith v. Smith, a mother's request to relocate was denied because it was found that her primary motive was to impede the father's visitation rights.


New York's laws regarding parental relocation strive to ensure that decisions are made with the child's best interests as the paramount concern. Each case is assessed individually, considering multiple factors that impact both parents and children.