Relocation out of New Jersey to a new state with children has been talked about more these days, since the newest court decision on relocation was released earlier this summer. Now, because of the court’s decision in Bisbing, it’s gotten a bit harder for parents with custody of their child to leave New Jersey for a new state or a new country.
Parents are now left wondering if their ex can actually stop a move out of New Jersey with the kids, especially if there is no formal custody order in place and the parents have just worked out their own arrangements between them. So, what happens if one parent wants to relocate without the permission of the other parent?
A parent cannot simply leave
If one issue is clear, it is that a parent cannot leave New Jersey with their child without either the permission of the other parent or the permission of a family court judge. This is true regardless if there has been a formal child custody or parenting time order put in place in the courts. Leaving the state without permission is dangerous and could actually subject a parent to kidnapping charges.
The parent who wishes to relocate must make an application with the court seeking permission to move, and if no custody arrangement has been formally put in place, the very first thing the court will do is establish custody. What is the in best interests of the child? That is what judges here in New Jersey must consider, by law, when making decisions regarding custody. The court will look at several factors contained in the law to determine which parent should have primary custody, if custody should be shared, if the parties should share joint legal custody, etc.
Having primary custody is not a guarantee
Before the Bisbing case, courts relied on the Baures case. The theory behind Baures was that children who move with parents will naturally be happy and content in the new state if their parents are fulfilled. Because of this theory, the parent with primary custody had an easier time getting permission from the court to move. In fact, the parent wanting to relocate simply had to show that the move was not harmful to the child. Now, the parent must show, like in custody cases, that the move is actually in the child’s best interests, and they use the same factors such as relationship with the other parent, when making relocation decisions.
What are those best interests factors?
The factors that the court must consider when making relocation decisions are:
*Parent’s ability to agree/cooperate
*Parent’s ability to accept custody or history of unwillingness to allow visitation
*Relationship of child with parents/siblings
*Any history of domestic violence
*Safety of child or other parent from abuse
*Preference of child depending on age
*Needs of the child
*Stability of home offered
*Quality and continuity of education
*Fitness of the parents
*Geographical proximity of the parents’ homes
*Extent/Quality of time spent with other parent
*Parents’ employment responsibilities
*Age and number of children
Of course, not all of these factors will apply to every family. The overarching principle that the judges must always use is, “Is this in the best interests of the children?”
For more information about relocation and the new standard, see our related articles:
If you would like to discuss your relocation issue further or need more information, please contact us today to schedule your initial confidential consultation with one of our compassionate and qualified family law attorneys. Take the first step, call 888-888-0919.