There are many times where after divorce (and even while the divorce is pending) that the custodial spouse would like to relocate outside the State of New Jersey with the children. New Jersey has a statute that expressly prohibits relocation by the custodial parent with the children absent a written agreement or consent by the non-custodial parent or a Court Order.
However, there are circumstances where the Court, upon application of the custodial spouse will allow relocation. The pole star is what is in the best interest of the child(ren). However, the Court will also look at other factors in making its determination regarding relocation. These include:
- The parent’s reason for the move
- Whether or not the non-custodial parent is being reasonable as to his or her objection
- The existing relationship between the non-custodial parent and the children
- Whether the sought-after community provides at least an equal benefit to the child in terms of health, education, and extracurricular activities
- Whether the move would afford the non-custodial parent a continuing, regular, on-going relationship with the child(ren)
If the parties have a pure, equal 50/50 physical custodial relationship, it will be more difficult for the custodial spouse to relocate, as what is really occurring is a request for a change in custody.
In the relatively recent case of Bisbing v Bisbing, the New Jersey Supreme Court tightened the requirements for the non-custodial parent to be able to relocate out of state by requiring a “best interest” evaluation rather than the custodial parent having to show only a good faith reason for his or her move.