The Fourth Department, over a dissent, determined mother’s petition for sole custody and permission to relocate to Tennessee was properly granted:
... [M]other testified at the hearing that she has been the primary caregiver of the children and that her health has been steadily declining. She further established that the maternal grandmother, who moved to Tennessee in 2021, has provided her with extensive financial assistance, as well as assistance in caring for herself and the children, and that the maternal grandmother would continue to do so if the mother were to relocate closer to the maternal grandmother … . Further, the record establishes that the father has no “accustomed close involvement in the children’s everyday life” … and thus we conclude that the need to “give appropriate weight to . . . the feasibility of preserving the relationship between the noncustodial parent and [the] child[ren] through suitable visitation arrangements” does not take precedence over the need to give appropriate weight to the necessity for the relocation … .
From the dissent:
… [T]he Referee gave disproportionate weight to certain factors and largely ignored the impact of the move on the children’s future contact with the father despite that factor weighing heavily against relocation, given the distance between Clinton County, New York, where the father resides, and Tennessee … . …
… [M]other did not establish that the children’s lives will be enhanced economically, emotionally, or educationally by the move, even if the move would not diminish them … . The mother offered no testimony that the children would receive a better education in Tennessee, and there was no testimony comparing schools in each location … .
The mother also offered no explanation as to why she and the children would be better cared for in Tennessee by the maternal grandmother—who testified that she works approximately 45 to 50 hours per week at multiple jobs in addition to caring for her son’s newborn child—than in New York by the certified caregiver the mother was approved for but has never utilized … . Matter of Martin v Martin, 2023 NY Slip Op 05893, Fourth Dept 11-17-23
Practice Point: Here mother’s declining health was a factor granting mother’s petition to relocate near her mother in Tennessee. The dissent argued the referee ignored the impact of the move on the children’s contact with father and mother did not demonstrate the children would be better cared for or better educated in Tennessee.