Going through a divorce is tough on the parents and on their children. This is especially so for military families. All too often, neither of the parties are native residents of the State they currently reside due to the constant moving required by the military. For this reason, the custodial parent may want to relocate with the children to another State necessitated by continued military service or, in the case of a non-military custodial parent, relocation to be closer to the parent’s base of family support in another State.
In New Jersey, when a custodial parent wishes to relocate the parties’ children out of the State without consent of the other parent, it is the burden of the custodial parent to show the Court that there is a good faith basis for relocation and that such relocation is not contrary to the best interests of the children. It is then the non-custodial parent’s burden to then show otherwise, or, to show that relocation will harm the children’s best interests.
Next, a New Jersey Court will look at several factors when deciding whether it is appropriate to allow the children to relocate:
- The reasons given for the move;
- The reasons given for the opposition;
- The past history of dealings between the parties;
- Whether the child will receive educational, health and leisure opportunities at least equal to what is available here;
- Any special needs or talents of the child that require accommodation and whether such accommodation or its equivalent is available in the new location;
- Whether a visitation and communication schedule can be developed that will allow the noncustodial parent to maintain a full and continuous relationship with the child;
- The likelihood that the custodial parent will continue to foster the child’s relationship with the noncustodial parent if the move is allowed;
- The effect of the move on extended family relationships here and in the new location;
- If the child is of age, his or her preference;
- Whether the child is entering his or her senior year in high school at which point he or she should generally not be moved until graduation without his or her consent;
- Whether the noncustodial parent has the ability to relocate; and
- Any other factor bearing on the child’s interest.
Notably, an inconvenient visitation schedule for the non-custodial parent is not enough, in and of itself, to scrap the relocation plan of a custodial parent. However, a custodial parent relocating the children may be required to cover some or all of the transportation costs incurred by the non-custodial parent in exercising their visitation rights.
If you have a child custody issue relating to relocation and you or your previous partner is a member of the military, you should be represented by an attorney who is familiar with the demands of military service on families. Contact Kevin J. Murphy, Esq. at 856.428.8334 or email@example.com for a consultation.