During or after divorce parents often find themselves facing new questions regarding their minor children. In New Jersey, a custodial parent who wishes to move out of state with their child must have a Court Order or the written consent of the other parent. Child Relocation in New Jersey can become more complex if the noncustodial parent does not agree to the move, and the Court must decide whether the relocating parent can leave the state. If a non-custodial parent wants to move out of the state there are no laws preventing it.
In the 2001 case of Bauers v. Lewis, 167 N.J. 91 (2001) the New Jersey Supreme Court held that the custodial parent seeking to relocate the child must prove good faith and that his or her request to move is in the best interest of the child. The Court established various factors to consider in determining whether to grant the custodial parent’s application to relocate a child if the non-custodial parent objects:
- Reasons given for the move;
- Reasons given for the opposition;
- Past history of dealings between the parties insofar as it bears on the reasons advanced by both parties for supporting and opposing the move;
- Whether the child will receive educational, health and leisure opportunities at least equal to what is available here;
- Any special needs or talents of the child that require accommodation and whether such accommodation or its equivalent is available in the new location;
- Whether a visitation and communication schedule can be developed that will allow the noncustodial parent to maintain a full and continuous relationship with the child;
- Likelihood that the custodial parent will continue to foster the child’s relationship with the noncustodial parent if the move is allowed;
- Effect of the move on extended family relationships here and in the new location;
- If the child is of age, his or her preference;
- Whether the child is entering his or her senior year in high school at which point he or she should generally not be moved until graduation without his or her consent;
- Whether the noncustodial parent has the ability to relocate; and
- Any other factor bearing on the child’s interest.
After the burden of good faith and best interest of the child is met by the custodial parent, the non-custodial parent must provide evidence that the child’s interest will suffer from the relocation. Visitation alone is not considered proof as to whether the child’s interest will be jeopardized by the move
Parents considering moving within New Jersey must also be aware of whether they will need permission to do so. Generally, a move that is far enough away to necessitate a change in a previously entered Court ordered parenting plan or a mutually agreed-upon schedule will require permission from the non-custodial parent. As with child relocation out of state, unless a consent order is signed by the non-relocating parent, the parent interested in moving must seek the Courts approval through filing a motion.
Child relocation in New Jersey is a complex and emotional issue that many divorced New Jersey parents must face. Due to the complicated and sensitive nature of the matter it is recommended to consult with a New Jersey family law attorney familiar with child relocation.