Relocating from New Jersey As a Divorced Parent with Children
Divorce, custody, and relocation when the separating couple has children can be very complex.
The New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part holds as its central focus the best interests of the children in all divorce and custody proceedings. This also applies to relocation cases, when one parent wishes to move to a different state or country with the children.
The legal precedents in New Jersey around relocation have shifted over the past years. Read on to learn more about laws surrounding the relocation of a divorced parent with their children.
In New Jersey, there are two forms of custody: physical custody and legal custody.
Physical custody is the amount of time each parent spends with the child. There is sole physical custody, in which one parent is the custodial parent, and the other parent has limited visitation rights – or, depending on the circumstances, supervised visitation rights or none at all. Joint physical custody is the relatively equal share of parenting time for each parent. Examples of joint physical custody arrangements include one parent having the children during the week and the other having them for weekends and holidays. Finally, there is the custodial parent and alternate parent custody, in which the children live with and spend the majority of their time with a custodial parent, and the alternate parent spends a determined amount of time with the children according to their parenting time agreement. In each of these cases, there is a parenting time agreement, which outlines the schedule the parents and children will follow to allow for shared physical custody, if applicable. The New Jersey Superior Court deems time spent with both parents as essential to the socioemotional development of a child, so except in extreme circumstances such as a history of domestic violence, sexual assault, drug abuse, or trouble with the law, the court will generally grant both parents some measure of regularly-scheduled parenting time.
The second form of custody is legal custody.
This is the legal right each parent has to make decisions regarding the upbringing of the child. Legal custodial rights include decisions regarding medical procedures, education, and religion.
If separated parents have joint legal custody and one parent has primary physical custody, the court will consider the petition of the primary custodial parent to move out of the state or country with their child.
According to the precedent set in Baures v. Lewis, there were twelve factors that a judge took into consideration when deciding whether a custodial parent could relocate with her children. (For cases in which parents shared physical custody, a change in custody would be required in order to meet the standards by which relocation would be considered based upon the twelve factors.) The original factors needed to provide the burden of proof that the relocation would be positive for both the relocating parent and the children was set at quite a low bar. The court that ruled in favor of relocation in the case noted that a child would most likely acclimate to the change and benefit from the positive impact that the move had on the parent.
In the case of Bisbing v. Bisbing, this precedent was overturned, and a much higher threshold was required to show that the move would have a positive impact on the children. The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that the success and happiness of a child in a move are not necessarily directly connected to the parent’s happiness and that the “best interests standard” that applies to divorce and custody proceedings in New Jersey must also be applied to relocation requests. As such, stricter factors were set into place as prerequisites for consideration of the relocation request by the court. In addition to the “best interests standard,” which appears in New Jersey Statutes 9:2-2, a parent requesting relocation must prove that they are able and willing to communicate with the other legal guardian as well as work together to uphold a revised parenting time agreement; they must prove there is no history of domestic violence, and that the child is physically and emotionally safe; and that the child’s socioemotional, educational, and physical needs will be met by the move to an equal or greater degree; among other factors.
Get in touch with our Linden NJ Family Law Attorney to discuss your personal situation
At Edward S. Cooper ESQ, Law Firm, our experienced team of divorce and custody lawyers represents clients across Rahway, Clark, Roselle, Roselle Park, Garwood, Elizabeth, and throughout Union County, Essex County, and northern Middlesex County in all custody and relocation cases.
To schedule a confidential consultation with our firm today to discuss your relocation request, contact our offices today by calling (908) 481-4625 for a confidential consultation regarding your Alimony doubts or questions.