Relocation and Child Custody

Relocation and Child Custody

Relocation and Child Custody Attorneys Bergen County, NJ

Understanding NJ Child Relocation Laws

Many times, parents wish to relocate after a divorce. Maybe they wish to be closer to extended family, or perhaps a new job or career opportunity presents itself. Whatever the case, if that parent has visitation time or custody of children from a previous marriage, they may need to request the right to move with their children, and/or modify the terms of their child custody and visitation agreement.

With the recent NJ Supreme Court Decision in Bisbing v Bisbing, laws regarding when custodial parents are allowed to move with their children out of state or out of the country have changed dramatically. As our firm and Attorney Paul H. Townsend were instrumental in bringing about this change, acting as legal representation during this case, we are ideally suited to helping you and your family with your child relocation issue.

Whether you are seeking to move with your children, or need to contest the relocation of a former spouse and your children, our firm is ready to provide you with effective, knowledgeable, and compassionate legal counsel. With extensive experience helping families with their child relocation and parental relocation issues, we are ready to provide you with the legal representation that you need and deserve in such a sensitive matter.

Contact our firm today to discuss your unique parental relocation needs and concerns in a free and confidential consultation.

Child Relocation within New Jersey

For moves within the state of New Jersey, court approval is not required. However, if the move constitutes a “substantial change in circumstances,” then a parent may be able to contest the relocation, causing the courts to modify the existing child custody order to reflect what it believes is in the best interests of the children.

Relocation with children in New Jersey is not an entirely decided area of law, as there is no standard for when a move constitutes a “substantial change” and when it does not. Each situation is determined on a case-by-case basis, so for a better understanding of whether or not your in-state move or the in-state move of a former spouse may call for a modification of your child custody agreement, contact our attorneys today to discuss your unique situation.


Relocation Out-of-State Child Relocation Lawyers

Unlike moves within the state of New Jersey, all planned out-of-state moves require court approval for a parent to take their children with them. Relocating parents must submit a request with the family court to relocate out-of-state with their children, and they must demonstrate valid “cause” for their desire to relocate. The court will look to see whether the move is truly in the best interest of the child. Some of the most commonly cited causes for parental relocation with children include:

  • To be closer to extended family or other sources of support
  • To receive medical treatment, or avoid a source of health risk
  • To protect the safety of the child, children, or parent from the risk of harm
  • To pursue a significant educational or employment opportunity
  • To live with a new spouse
  • To significantly improve the family’s quality of life or the educational opportunities of the children

If it is determined, however, that the relocation is being requested “in bad faith” i.e. only to prevent the children from maintaining a relationship with the other parent or to harm the other parent by removing the children, the removal request will be denied.

In the case that there is sufficient cause for the relocation, the other parent has the opportunity to contest the relocation request. If they do so, the court will make a ruling based on the best interest of the children involved, regardless of the type of custody that either parent legally has. This is a significant change to NJ child relocation law, as prior to Bisbing v Bisbing, parents with primary custody simply had to demonstrate that the relocation was beneficial to them, and the law held that what was in the best interests of the primary parent were in the best interests of their children.


Best Interest Analysis for Child Relocation Requests

As previously noted, if the relocating parent demonstrates sufficient cause for their relocation, and the other parent contests their relocation request, then the family court will consider the relocation as a request for modification of child custody due to changed circumstances, and perform a “best interest analysis” to make an ultimate ruling regarding child custody and visitation moving forward.

Best interest analyses can include testimony from both parents, testimony from adults with close relationships to the child(ren) including teachers, caregivers, and doctors, testimony from family dynamic and child development experts, and even interviews between the court and the children themselves. The court will also consider many different factors (known as the Baures factors) when determining the best interest of the children, depending on the circumstances at hand. These factors include:

  • The reasons for the move
  • The reasons for the other parent to oppose the move
  • How the history of the parents’ relationship may lend itself to requesting or opposing the move
  • The educational, health, and leisure opportunities for the child(ren) in either location
  • The ability of either location to support the child(ren)’s special needs or talents
  • The possibilities for communication and visitation between the non-relocating parent and their children
  • Whether or not the court believes the relocating parent will encourage the child(ren)’s relationship with the other parent after the move
  • The effect of the move on the child(ren) and their relationship with extended family
  • The child’s preferences if they are of an age and maturity level to express them
  • The ability of the non-relocating parent to also relocate
  • If the child is entering their senior year of high school, relocation will generally not be granted without their consent
  • Any other factor’s the court deems relevant to the particular case

Once the courts have concluded this exhaustive analysis, they will appoint one of the parents as the primary custodial parent with whom the children will live, and will then help the parents to work out a new visitation agreement.

As you can see, many factors are considered, weighed, and decided during a request for parental relocation. If you wish to relocate with your children, or are contesting a relocation request, it is highly recommended that you contact our experienced Bergen County child relocation attorneys for guidance, counsel, and representation during this process.


Contact Our Relocation Attorneys Today

At Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, our attorneys have extensive experience representing parents in child relocation requests. We are intimately familiar with the entire relocation process, and we are prepared to guide and represent you, your children, and your interests throughout the proceedings. By practicing exclusively family and divorce law, our attorneys can focus on the matter most important to you, and providing you with the effective, knowledgeable, and compassionate legal service that you need and deserve in any family law matter, including child custody decisions and parental relocation requests. To speak with our firm today in a free and confidential consultation regarding your relocation or the relocation of a former spouse, and your rights and options for child custody during a parental relocation decision, contact us today.

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