A parent’s request to relocate presents the court with the dilemma of whether to permit relocation and protect the child’s relationship with the custodial parent, or deny permission to avoid disrupting the child’s relationship with the non-custodial parent. Whether a court permits a change of domicile is determined by many factors including the anticipated benefits and potential risks to the child. Litigation can make change of domicile decisions even more complicated, particularly if parents minimize one another’s importance or exaggerate each other’s shortcomings. Faced with a difficult change of domicile request, courts may refer the family for a child custody evaluation to clarify which decision is in the child’s best interest.
As an experienced child custody evaluator, Dr. Daniel Swerdlow-Freed has considerable skill assessing the rationale, motivations, and concerns of parents in change of domicile cases, and how relocation can affect a child’s relationship with each parent. He takes a child-focused approach to these evaluations that considers the potential short and long-term consequences that relocation may have on a child’s psychological and emotional well-being. Findings from comprehensive evaluations are integrated with social science research to assist the court in reaching a final decision that is based on the child’s best interests.
Change of domicile evaluations consider many factors including:
- Best interests of the child
- Impact of relocation on children at different ages
- Motives of the custodial parent seeking relocation
- Motives of the non-custodial parent opposing relocation
- Prospective advantages of the move for improving the child’s general quality of life
- Realistic opportunities for preserving and fostering the relationship with the non-custodial parent