A top story this week was the custody case involving Olympic skier, Bode Miller. Read more about it by clicking here. The case is newsworthy, not so much because it involves a top-notch athlete, but rather because it took the concept of relocation in custody cases to a whole new level.
In most states, especially where a custody order is already in place, a parent is not permitted to relocate with a child if such relocation will significantly impair the other parent’s right to enjoy time with the child. For example, if the parents both reside in Pennsylvania and share custody of their child 50/50, if one parent decides to relocate with the child to New York, the other parent will no longer be able to enjoy custody of the child 50 percent of the time due to the distance new balance 997 outlet. The Court then needs to determine whether the parent who desires the relocation should be permitted to take the child to the new destination.
In determining whether relocation is warranted, a Court will look at the amount of time that the non-relocating parent currently spends with the child and whether that time will be impacted by the move. The Court will also look at a variety of factors concerning the proposed relocation such as the reason the parent wants to relocate (i.e. a new job opportunity, marriage, moving closer to family) and how the relocation will impact the child at issue (i.e. a better school district, improved atmosphere, being closer to extended family, etc.). Deciding whether a relocation is permitted requires a thoughtful determination by the Court, keeping in mind at all times, what is in the best interest of the child.
In the Bode Miller matter, the Court, however, looked at the relocation of the child even before it was born. The Court initally determined that the mother of the child, Sara McKenna, wrongfully removed the child, while in utero, from California (which was Mr. Miller’s home state) to New York to pursue her career and then education inexpensive jordans. In fact, the New York Court where Ms. McKenna filed to confirm custody of the child ordered instead that the child be sent to live with Mr. Miller in California. The 9 month old child was returned to Ms. McKenna this week when that decision was reversed.
As a family law practitioner who has been involved in countless relocation cases, the tension that exists between the parties in these matters in understandable. Each parent wants to have the opportunity to raise the child and participate in his or her life even though they are unable to do so as a single family unit. It is troubling, however, to think about parties’ litigating these issues and a Court possibly making a custody determination even before a child is actually born.