Another personal reason that is often found to be sufficient to permit a custodial parent to relocate with the child is the desire to move closer to the custodial parent’s family. Courts frequently hold that the support and stability that can be offered by a parent’s extended family will serve the child’s best interests.
For example, in Reel v. Harrison, 118 Nev. 881, 60 P.3d 480 (2002), the mother sought permission to relocate to New Jersey, in part because she would be close to her extended family. The mother had no relatives in Nevada. The Nevada Supreme Court found that this constituted a sufficient reason to allow the mother to relocate. See also Aziz v. Aziz, 8 A.D.3d 596, 779 N.Y.S.2d 539 (2004) (mother’s request to relocate granted where mother had large extended family and support network in another state and child had bonded with mother’s family).
A proposed relocation to allow a custodial parent to move closer to his or her extended family may not be a sufficient reason, however, if there is no demonstrable benefit to the child from the move. In Miller v. Miller, 799 So. 2d 753 (La. Ct. App. 3d Cir. 2001), the mother sought to move to Maryland with the parties’ children. The primary reason for the proposed relocation was to be closer to her family, who could assist her in caring for the children and, thus, enable her to obtain a nursing degree. The Louisiana Court of Appeals denied the mother’s request, stating that her reasons for relocating were "more for her interest than for the children." Id. at 757. The court noted that the children had lived their entire lives in Louisiana and had had little contact with the mother’s side of the family.
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PRESUMPTION IN FAVOR OF RELOCATION -- In many states, such as Arkansas, the court favors allowing relocation of the custodial parent. A majority of states, including New York, decide relocation requests based on the best interest of the child. A few states, such as Connecticut, have a neutral approach, a middle ground approach. Both the custodial parent and the non-custodial parent have the burden of demonstrating why relocation should or should not be permitted.
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