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15 Mile Radius Clause Found Valid and Enforceable

A child holding it's parents hand

In a case before Justice Richard Dollinger in Monroe County New York a father sought relief from the 15 mile radius clause that was in a separation agreement. The agreement stated the father needed to live within 15 miles of the mother’s residence as part of a parenting plan. The father brought an action requesting relief from the 15 mile provision. He did not argue that the agreement was unfair or inequitable. His argument was that he had a new girlfriend and she resided more than 15 miles from the mother’s residence. Judge Dollinger ruled this could not be considered an unanticipated situation. Dollinger went on to hold that the father’s new residence was his own choice. There was no evidence presented of extreme financial hardship related to this 15 mile radius clause.

No penalty Clause in the Agreement

The father argued that there was no penalty provision in this settlement agreement. He also argued there was no deadline for him to change his residence back to within the 15 mile radius. However Judge Dollinger ruled in the absence of a contractual deadline the court would impose a “reasonable time” deadline with regard to the father’s compliance with the terms of this agreement. He therefore gave the father three (3) months from the date their child would start kindergarten to comply with the 15 mile radius requirement. Judge Dollinger felt a three (3) month compliance period was a reasonable period of time for the father to become in compliance with the terms of this agreement. In the end Judge Dollinger refused to relieve father of his obligation to live within 15 miles of the mother’s residence.

Conclusion

Attorney Elliot Schlissel

Many settlement agreements and/or separation agreements have radius clauses. These clauses generally prevent the custodial parent from moving more than 15 to 25 miles from the former marital residence. Once these clauses are in an agreement it is difficult to get around them.