Somerville Parental Relocation Lawyer
After a divorce or separation, the parties will agree upon, or the court will determine, an appropriate child custody and parenting time arrangement. However, a final divorce order represents only a snapshot of your life. A divorce or separation can trigger a series of changes in the life of a party, which can mean going back to school, finding a new job, or moving to be closer to family. If your circumstances change or your co-parent’s circumstances change and either of you want to move out of state, how will the case be determined?
New Jersey courts historically were reluctant to allow relocation with children absent the consent of the other party. The courts were concerned about how the move would affect the non-custodial parent’s relationship with his or her children. Consequently, there was a predisposition to keeping the children in New Jersey.
However, from 2001 until 2017, New Jersey courts followed the reasoning set forth in the relocation case of Baures v. Lewis, 167 N.J. 91 (2001). This case stood for the proposition that, as long as the custodial parent had a good faith reason for the move and that the move was not harmful to the children, the parent would, most likely, be allowed to relocate with the children. This case was decided, for the most part, on the social science statistics in existence at the time which showed that what was good for the custodial parent would, likewise, be good for the children. In addition, changing technology provided vastly improved methods of communication whereby the non-custodial parent could still maintain some level of “contact” with the children.
In August 2017, the New Jersey Supreme Court revisited the issue of relocation in the case of Bisbing v. Bisbing, 230 N.J. 309 (2017). In a thorough analysis of the issue, the court determined that the social science underlying the Baures case was not settled as to the effect an out-of-state relocation would have on the child. It further found that, in other jurisdictions cited by the court, the trend in favor of relocation had not continued.
Relocation Under Shared Custody
Consequently in Bisbing, the court replaced the Baures standard with a best interest analysis when parents have joint legal custody. This test applies regardless of whether the relocating spouse provided the primary residence for the child or the parents equally shared custody. The court found that the new best interest analysis was in harmony with the custody status.
Thus a court considering a relocation request shall consider the same factors as when determining custody. These factors include, but are not limited to, the following:
- The parents’ ability to agree, communicate and cooperate in matters relating to the child
- The parents’ willingness to accept custody and any history of unwillingness to allow parenting time not based on substantiated abuse
- The interaction and relationship of the child with its parents and siblings
- The history of domestic violence, if any
- The safety of the child and the safety of either parent from physical abuse by the other parent
- The preference of the child when of sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent decision
- The needs of the child
- The stability of the home environment offered
- The fitness of the parents
- The geographical proximity of the parents’ homes
- The extent and quality of the time spent with the child prior to or subsequent to the separation
- The parent’s employment responsibilities, and
- The age and number of the children.
A knowledgeable New Jersey child custody lawyer can help you evaluate the reasons behind a proposed relocation and strengthen your argument either for or against the relocation.
Reach Out for Help With a New Jersey Parental Relocation
If you are dealing with child custody issues related to a parental relocation matter in New Jersey, reach out to a dedicated, compassionate, and knowledgeable Somerville parental relocation lawyer. Call Katherine K. Wagner, Attorney at Law, today for advice and representation.