Personal Reasons

While the employment or educational opportunities of a custodial parent’s new spouse may constitute legitimate economic reasons for a proposed relocation, the actual remarriage of the custodial parent and the decision to move to be with the new spouse are purely personal. However, a custodial parent’s remarriage has been held to be a sufficient reason to permit relocation, especially if it is established that the parent’s standard of living would increase as a result of the remarriage or that the parent’s gratification or the increased stability of the new relationship would serve the best interests of the child.

For instance, in In re Marriage of Collingbourne, 204 Ill. 2d 498, 791 N.E.2d 532 (2003), the mother petitioned to be allowed to relocate to Massachusetts where her fiance lived. By doing so, the mother would be able to work in her fiance’s business, earning more income but working fewer hours so she would have more time to spend with the child. The mother and child would also live in the fiance’s house as opposed to the apartment they rented in Illinois. The court relied on the increased lifestyle that both the child and mother would enjoy if relocation were allowed as a factor in determining that allowing the move was in the child’s best interests. See also Rosenthal v. Maney, 51 Mass. App. Ct. 257, 745 N.E.2d 350 (2001) (mother allowed to relocate to Rhode Island in order to be with new husband who lived and worked in that state; mother’s financial situation improved as a result of her marriage, allowing her to work less and spend more time with child); Caudill v. Foley, 21 S.W.3d 203 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1999) (mother’s marriage to a man who owned his own business and lived in Florida constituted reasonable purpose for relocation).

The potential for happiness that the custodial parent derives from a new spouse is not, however, always sufficient to allow relocation. See also In re Marriage of Sale, 347 Ill. App. 3d 1083, 808 N.E.2d 1125, 1129 (2004) ("[A] custodial parent must prove more than his or her own desire to live with a new spouse to show that a child’s best interests will be served by a removal."); , 247 A.D.2d 719, 669 N.Y.S.2d 80, leave to appeal denied, 92 N.Y.2d 802, 699 N.E.2d 433, 677 N.Y.S.2d 73 (1998) (mother’s request to move to California where her new husband lived and worked denied where move would essentially deprive father of contact with child, child was unfamiliar with California, and the new husband had at best a developing relationship with child).

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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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