Often times, a custodial parent wants to move out of state with their children for various reasons, a job opportunity, a new relationship, etc. In the State of New Jersey it is important to know that a parent cannot move out of state without prior Court approval or the consent of the other parent. This includes even a short move to a neighboring state like Pennsylvania or New York.
The seminal case in New Jersey related to relocation out of state is Baures v. Lewis, 167 N.J. 91 (2001). Under Baures the Court the parent requesting to relocate out of state must show that 1) they have a good faith reason for the move and 2) that the move will not be inimical to the children’s best interest. The Court in Baures provided 12 factors to guide Court’s decision when evaluating an application to relocate out of state they are as follows:
- Reasons given for the move.
- Reasons given for opposition.
- Past history of dealings between the parties insofar as it bears on reasons advanced by both parties for supporting and opposing the move.
- Whether 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.
- Whether a visitation and communication schedule can be developed that will allow the non-custodial parent to maintain a full and continuous relationship with the child.
- Likelihood that the custodial parent will continue to foster child’s relationship with the non-custodial parent if the move is allowed.
- The effect of the move on extended family relationships here and in the new location.
- The child’s preference.
- Whether the child is entering his senior year in high school.
- Whether the non-custodial parent has the ability to relocate.
- Any other factor.
A court will perform a detailed analysis of all of the above factors and their applicability to case before them. As is the case in any application regarding children, the Court is primarily focused on the best interests of the children. One of the key factors in any relocation case is the impact that the move will have upon the relationship between the children and the non-custodial parent. In any relocation application the custodial parent must submit a detailed plan to the Court outlining a parenting plan and other means by which the noncustodial parent can keep in touch with the children to foster their relationship. Fortunately, with the advances in technology it is now much easier for children to stay in touch with noncustodial parent. Services like facetime, skype and other social networking sites make it possible for noncustodial parents to stay in touch on an almost daily basis.
It is important to note that the above is only applicable to cases in which the custodial parent seeks to relocate out of state. In the event that a non-custodial parent seeks to move out of state, they must show a substantial change in circumstances warranting a change in custody. If the Court does change custody, then the Court will look at the Baures factors and determine whether or not the newly appointed custodial parent can relocate out state with the children.
Out of state relocation cases our one of the most complicated and highly litigated areas of matrimonial law. Navigating through a relocation case is extremely difficult and the results can have a significant impact on everyone involved that is why is important to consult with a seasoned matrimonial attorney who can guide you through the process and can help achieve the best results for you and your family.