When a family divorces, and custody has been settled, the former spouses are likely to want to relocate further away from one another after some time. Unfortunately, when a standing custody agreement is involved, spouses may find it difficult to relocate, especially to longer distances. This is because most custody orders provide parenting time for both parents to be active participants in a child's life. If one of the parents relocates, it may actually be a violation of the custody order. Violations can lead to problems , fines, and even criminal charges. If a parent wishes to relocate when participating in a shared custody agreement, they must first petition the court. There is a specific process used in New Jersey's courts for when a parent wishes to relocate, and the court must usually approve of it.
Relocation And Child Custody
When a parent with sole or primary physical custody of a child wishes to move, they must demonstrate that the move is in "good faith," and also that the move is not detrimental to the child in any way. In short, "good faith" means that the parent is not relocating with the child as a means of attempting to interfere with the other parent's visitation rights, and is not motivated by any particular malice toward the other parent. The parent that wishes to relocate must also prove to the court that the child's needs for education, health, and fulfillment will be met in their new place of residence. The standard used to determine this will be if these needs are met to near the same degree or above the degree offered at the child's current location. The relocating parent should also put forward plans for how the child should engage in visitation with the other parent.
The process can move forward once the "good faith" reasoning and standards of the child's needs have been proven in court. The non-custodial parent will have the opportunity to suggest to the court that the move is actually detrimental to the child and to provide evidence to suggest so. The non-custodial parent can also argue that the proposed parenting and visitation plans do not allow them to maintain a healthy relationship with the child. The court may also consider a number of additional factors when making a final determination, these include:
- Any special needs for the child that need specific accommodations found only in certain places
- The child's preference, if they are of a certain age and maturity level
- The non-custodial parent's ability to relocate
- The impact on extended family
- The custodial parent's likelihood of encouraging a relationship with the other parent
Contact a New Jersey Family Law Attorney Today
These factors and more will play a factor in how the court makes its final decision of whether or not to grant the relocation. If you or a loved one is involved in a custody battle or relocation proceedings, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.