Out of State Relocation and Child Custody

Relocating out of state with children/child custody

Out-of-State Relocation Attorneys Morris County NJ

Helping Families across Madison, Randolph, Tewksbury, Morristown, and Morris County

Out-of-State Relocation Attorneys Morris County, NJA custodial parent wishing to relocate with their children outside of the State of New Jersey will have the burden of proving that the move is in the best interests of the children.  Courts have applied different standards in the last few decades, and the most recent standard does not necessarily favor the custodial parent.

Relocation Laws Morristown NJ

Any custodial issue in dispute will be brought before the court and decided by the judge in the county in which the children reside. The judge reviews the facts of the case and then applies the applicable statutes and prior case law to make a ruling or determination. At times, the law is vague, so attorneys and judges alike use case law as a reference for past decisions in similar scenarios. The case law can be more helpful in applying the law to the individual facts of the case.

NJ Relocation and Child Custody Statutes

The main statute dealing with the removal of children from the jurisdiction of New Jersey is N.J.S.A. 9:2-2.  This law declares that when the Superior Court of New Jersey has jurisdiction over the minor child, they “shall not be removed out of this jurisdiction against their own consent, if of suitable age to signify same, nor under that age without the consent of both parents, unless the court, upon cause shown,  shall otherwise order.” Jurisdiction applies if the child is a native of New Jersey or has resided five years in the State.

Case Law and Court Ruling on Relocation Laws in New Jersey

In Bisbing v. Bisbing, the mother sought an order of the court, allowing her to move to Utah with the two minor children.  The Plaintiff (Mother) and the Defendant (Father) were married for 8 years and had twin daughters.  During the marriage, they lived in New Jersey, and both parties worked.  Both parties lived near their extended families, and the grandmothers helped with childcare.  The parties agreed to terms of custody and parenting time in their marital settlement agreement.

Additionally,  the settlement agreement included provisions limiting where the parties could live, including limitations on relocating outside of the state.  This specific provision noted that each party would be diligent in residing within close proximity (15 minutes) to the other and that neither party would relocate outside of the State of New Jersey without the written consent of the other party.

The Plaintiff/mother sought to move to Utah with her soon-to-be husband.  The Superior Court granted her request, and the Defendant/father appealed.  The appellate court reversed the trial court’s ruling and the Supreme Court of New Jersey agreed with the Appellate Court. The court also modified the test to be applied in relocation cases.  This means that the mother had to keep the children in close proximity to the father in this case, but that the court also wanted to re-examine the original law.

The New Standard under Bisbing v. Bisbing

The court found that the same standard should be applied in all cases concerning relocation of minor children outside of the State of New Jersey in which there is joint custody. “In all such disputes, the trial court should decide whether there is “cause” under N.J.S.A. 9:2–2 to authorize a child’s relocation out of state by weighing the factors set forth in N.J.S.A. 9:2–4, and other relevant considerations, and determining whether the relocation is in the child’s best interests.”

The best interests’ standard is what is generally applied in all custody disputes but, prior to Bisbing, was not utilized in relocation cases.  The best interest standard under N.J.S.A. 9:2-4 assesses the following factors in every relocation case:

  • the parents’ ability to agree, communicate and cooperate in matters relating to the child;
  • the parents’ willingness to accept custody and any history of unwillingness to allow parenting time not based on substantiated abuse;
  • the interaction and relationship of the child with its parents and siblings;
  • the history of domestic violence, if any;
  • the safety of the child and the safety of either parent from physical abuse by the other parent;
  • the preference of the child when of sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent decision;
  • the needs of the child; the stability of the home environment offered;
  • the quality and continuity of the child’s education;
  • the fitness of the parents; the geographical proximity of the parents’ homes
  • the extent and quality of the time spent with the child prior to or subsequent to the separation;
  • the parents’ employment responsibilities; and
  • the age and number of children.

Now, a parent must demonstrate that a move of out of state is in the best interests of the child if the other parent does not consent to such a move. This means that the court has a much higher standard when making decisions regarding the relocation of minor children.

Contact a Dedicated Child Custody and Relocation Attorney in Morris County

At Jacobs Berger, our attorneys have extensive experience resolving complex child custody issues and parental relocation matters of all kinds across Madison, Randolph, Hanover, Florham Park, Morris County, and throughout New Jersey.

If you are considering relocating out-of-state, relocating to a distant part of New Jersey, or are a parent whose former spouse is attempting to relocate with your children, our firm is ready to provide you with our compassionate and effective legal counsel today. Our exclusive focus on divorce and family law, affords us a unique opportunity to provide you with the knowledgeable, effective, and informed legal counsel that you need when it comes to matters affecting your family, and your future as a parent.

Contact our firm to discuss your unique situation, needs, and concerns in a confidential case assessment by contacting us online, or calling us through our Morristown, NJ office at (973) 718-7705.