Q: Can an unwed mother from NY move with a their baby to another state or territory without the fathers consent?
Former Governor Andrew Cuomo said it best, "You can get away with anything as long as you don't get caught." This principle is especially pertinent with children and families. The asker can depart and the left-behind parent does nothing. Six months later, the asker is free and clear.
However, if the stay-behind parent petitions a family court within six months of the departure, then the departing parent must either return or lose custody. In an initial award of custody, the lone act of departing with a child is not determinative. There will be many other factors the court must consider before giving custody to either parent. However, the inconvenience and potential damage should cause the departing parent to think very carefully, and decide to go to family court and get an order of custody with a relocation rather than risk a yank-back by the stay-behind parent.
A: Mr. Lomtevas summed up the state of the law pretty well. However, what the question does not supply is the status of the father. Did he sign an acknowledgment of paternity or not? If it isn't signed, notarized and filed, under NY law he is not the father. He would first have to go to family court and bring a paternity action and get an order that says he is the father before custody and/or visitation will be heard. In regard to the move out of state, in making a decision on the move, the court will look at the reason for the move. If it is because the mother was able to get a better job and thus be able to provide more for the child or if it is to be closer to family who can help with emotional support and aid in caring for the child that will also be OK as would moving to get away from an abusive relationship. The court's decision is fact sensitive. If the reason for the move is spite or to deprive the other parent of meaningful contact that would not be allowed. Most likely, the court will not require a move back to NY before the matter is concluded, however, the mother may have to pay the other parent's costs for visitation or make sure the child comes to NY for visitation until the conclusion of the matter. If there is no NY action within 6 months of the move, then all litigation regarding the child will be in the state with the child resides.
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