Relocating with Children after Divorce

If you are the parent of primary residence for your children following your divorce from your spouse, it may become necessary for you to relocate to take advantage of job opportunities, financial needs, or family support. However, relocating with children following divorce often leads to significant litigation, as the children’s other parent may lose regular access to and visitation with their children. When parents are unable to resolve the disputes that arise from relocation and come to a new arrangement for custody and visitation, it becomes necessary for the courts to resolve the dispute for the parents.

The Role of State Law in Relocating with Children after Divorce

State law sets forth the standards that courts use in deciding whether to grant a custodial parent’s request to relocate out of the local community with children. The custodial parent is required to give the noncustodial parent notice of the intention to relocate and either written consent from the other parent or a court order permitting relocation. 

It is important for a custodial parent seeking to relocate with his or her children to follow the required procedures for relocation. Failure to do so can lead the court to require the return of the children to the original jurisdiction; the imposition of counsel fees; or in some limited circumstances awarding primary custody to the other parent. 

Related blog: How Is New Jersey Child Custody Decided and When May It Be Modified?

Factors Courts Use in Evaluating Relocation Requests

When courts evaluate relocation requests, they will consider multiple factors including:

  • The relative strength and stability of each parent’s relationship with the child;
  • The terms of prior custody agreements or arrangements;
  • The reasons for the relocation;
  • Whether the custodial parent has a pattern of seeking relocation or harming the relationship between the child and non-custodial parent;
  • The age and needs of the child;
  • How relocation will affect the child’s physical, educational, and emotional development, and the child’s quality of life, available resources and opportunities;
  • The feasibility of continuing access for the noncustodial parent;
  • The feasibility for the noncustodial parent to relocate as well;
  • The financial impact of relocation upon the parents and the child; and
  • The child’s preference, if the child is sufficiently old and mature enough to express a reasoned preference.

There are two relatively recent New Jersey reported court decisions that deal with the issue of parental relocation. The first is Bisbing v. Bisbing, 230 N.J. 309 (2017). This case addresses the showing necessary to establish “cause” under the New Jersey parental relocation statute, N.J.S.A. 9:2-2, to enter a court order authorizing a parent to relocate out of state with his or her child despite opposition from the other parent. This issue implicates the constitutional right of a parent to engage in interstate travel, including reestablishing one’s domicile or residence, against disruption of the relationship between the child and the other parent. These competing factors must be viewed within the prism of the State’s interest in protecting the best interests of the child. The Bisbing case features a comprehensive discussion of the legal standards and practical considerations at play in determining whether interstate relocation should be permitted.

The second case is A.J. v. R.J., 461 N.J. Super. 173 (App. Div. 2019). The interesting wrinkle in this case is that it deals with an intrastate move—from Elizabeth to Mt. Holly, New Jersey.  So, under certain circumstances a parent may not even have the unbridled ability to relocate hours away within New Jersey. For example, Gloucester County and Bergen County, New Jersey are far more geographically disparate than Camden County and New Castle County, Delaware.  

Contact a Voorhees Family Law Attorney for a Consultation About Relocating with Children in New Jersey Today

If you are thinking about filing for divorce, or if you have already started the divorce process and are dealing with another matter such as child custody, child support, or division of assets, or if this is a post-judgment matter subsequent to your divorce or separation from the other parent, you need to speak with a qualified attorney. The New Jersey family law attorneys at the Law Offices of Daniel K. Newman represent clients throughout the state, including Camden, Cherry Hill, Gloucester Township, and Winslow. We understand how challenging this time can be for you, which is why we will fight hard to protect your interests, and the interests of your loved ones, throughout the legal process. Call us at (856) 309-9007 or fill out our confidential contact form to schedule a consultation. We have an office conveniently located at 1202 Laurel Oak Rd., #207, Voorhees Township, NJ 08043.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.