In the landmark case Matter of Tropea v Tropea, 87 NY2d 727 ) the New York Court of Appeals held that in a custodial relocation case a court should give weight to all relevant factors, including: (1) each parent’s reasons for seeking or opposing the move; (2) the quality of the relationship between the child and the parents; (3) the impact of the move on future contact with the noncustodial parent; and (4) the degree to which the custodial parent’s life may be enhanced economically, emotionally and educationally by the move.
The case of David B. v Katherine G., decided by the Appellate Division, First Department on April 5, 2016, involved two boys, ages 8 and 11, who had resided in Manhattan with both parents until their separation in 2010. The father’s family owns Manhattan real estate, and the mother and the boys lived in a building owned by the paternal grandfather until 2011 when he sold the building and the new owner evicted the mother and the two boys. The mother attempted to relocate to Colorado in 2012, and she went so far as enroll the children in school there. But the Court ordered the mother to return to New York, which she did. In 2013, after staying at various friends’ homes, the mother settled in Katonah, 45 miles from Manhattan. The forensic mental health expert, cited the mother’s “stronger emotional attachment with the children”. The children and their lawyer supported relocation. The trial court, presumably making credibility findings, cited a “strong possibility” that the mother exerted pressure on the children to declare their allegiance to her, considered stability to be the determinant, and ordered the children to reside with the father. The Court held that the father failed to demonstrate that he had the same degree of attention to the children’s emotional, academic and social needs as the mother.