In its January 11, 2017 decision in DeFilippis v. DeFilippis, the Appellate Division, Second Department, prevented a wife from relocating with the children from Floral Park to East Hampton, a move that would have curtailed the husband’s involvement in the children’s daily lives, school, and extracurricular activities.
The wife commenced this action for divorce. While the action was pending, the wife sought to relocate. The wife claimed that the move would enhance the children’s lives economically, emotionally, and educationally.
The husband opposed the relocation, contending that if the children moved to East Hampton he would be unable to remain involved in their daily lives, school, or extracurricular activities, as he would see them only on the weekends.
Nassau County Supreme Court Justice Hope Schwartz Zimmerman granted the wife’s relocation motion, and the husband appealed. The Second Department reversed (the appellate court had stayed the relocation order pending the appeal).
The appellate court noted that a parent seeking to relocate must establish that a proposed relocation would serve the children’s best interests. Although the parents’ rights are significant, it is the children’s needs and rights that must be accorded the greatest weight, with the effect of the relocation on the noncustodial parent’s relationship with the children remaining a central concern.
Additional relevant factors include, but are certainly not limited to each parent’s reasons for seeking or opposing the move, the quality of the relationships between the child and the custodial and noncustodial parents, the impact of the move on the quantity and quality of the child’s future contact with the noncustodial parent, the degree to which the custodial parent’s and child’s life may be enhanced economically, emotionally and educationally by the move, and the feasibility of preserving the relationship between the noncustodial parent and child through suitable visitation arrangements.
Here, the Second Department found that Justice Zimmerman’s determination that the wife’s relocation with the children would serve the children’s best interests was not supported by the preponderance of the evidence. The wife had not established that her proposed relocation would enhance the children’s lives emotionally or educationally. The wife’s claim that relocating would enhance her life and the children’s lives economically was tenuous at best; her assertion that the move would lead to her being self-supporting was speculative.
On the other hand, the Second Department recognized that the relocation would negatively impact the quantity and quality of the children’s future contact with the husband. The husband had presented evidence of his involvement in the children’s daily lives, school, and extracurricular activities. If the wife was permitted to relocate with the children to East Hampton, the husband would no longer be able to see the children midweek or remain involved in their many activities.
Accordingly, the Second Department reversed the order granting relocation and dened the wife’s relocation motion.
Rosalia Baiamonte of Gassman Baiamonte Betts, P.C., now Gassman Baiamonte Gruner, P.C., of Garden City, represented the husband. Glenn Koopersmith, of Garden City, NY, represented the wife. Barbara H. Kopman, of Westbury, served as attorney for the child.