NJ Child Relocation: What You Need To Know
What happens when only one parent wants to move? Here’s what you need to know about child relocation in New Jersey.
Under New Jersey law, there are strict limitations as to when a custodial parent is permitted to relocate with a child outside the state. In fact, statutory law expressly dictates that a custodial parent cannot remove a child from New Jersey without the child’s consent, so long as the child is of “suitable age” to give such consent, which is typically 14-years-old in New Jersey. Conversely, if the child is not of suitable age to give consent, the custodial parent cannot relocate the child outside of New Jersey without the consent of the other parent or an order from a court.
Thus, in circumstances in which a custodial parent is unable to get consent from the noncustodial parent to relocate with a very young child, he or she must file an application for removal in New Jersey court. When arguing in support of this application, the custodial parent bears the burden of proving that he or she has a “good-faith reason” for the move. Following this, the burden then shifts to the noncustodial parent – who opposes the move – to show that the child relocation will interfere with the best interests of the child or the visitation rights of the noncustodial parent.
Interestingly, some New Jersey courts have employed a 12-factor test when assessing whether the “good-faith” burden has been met and whether the child relocation will be contrary to the child’s best interests – particularly in situations in which the noncustodial parent shares physical custody of the child. These 12 factors include:
- The reasons offered for the move.
- The reasons offered in opposition of the move.
- The past dealings between the parents insofar as it bears on the reasons offered supporting or opposing the move.
- Whether a visitation schedule can be created that will allow the noncustodial parent to maintain a full relationship with the child.
- Whether the child will receive health, educational and leisure opportunities at least equal to what is available in his or her current location.
- Any special talents or needs of the child that require accommodations, and whether such accommodations will be available in the new location.
- The probability that the custodial parent will continue to encourage the child’s relationship with the noncustodial parent should the move be allowed.
- The impact of the move on extended family relationships.
- The child’s preference, if he or she is of sufficient age.
- Whether the child is entering his or her last year of high school.
- Whether the noncustodial parent has the ability to move as well.
- Any other factors impacting the best interests of the child.
Cleary, not every factor will be relevant in every New Jersey child relocation case, but they do give a general framework for resolving these types of disputes. However, matters can get quite complicated very quickly during child custody fights, which is why it is always best to seek the advice of an experienced child custody attorney if involved in a dispute. An experienced attorney can review the facts of your case and help ensure your rights – and your children – are protected.