The question of relocation often arises between parties after a divorce has been finalized and entered by the court. One party may want to embark on a new chapter of their lives. Maybe he or she remarried and their new spouse needs to relocate to another state for professional reasons. Whatever the reason may be, the issue of relocation following entry of a divorce is very common.
Both the New Jersey Legislature and the New Jersey courts have addressed the issue of removal out of state when one parent seeks to relocate with the children. Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 9:2-2, the custodial parent is not permitted to permanently relocate with the children outside of the jurisdiction of the State of New Jersey without either the express written consent of the other party of approval of the court. In the event that your former spouse does not consent to you relocating to another state with the children, you will have no alternative but to file an application with the court in order to obtain permission.
In examining your application, the court will examine a number of factors. The standard which the court will apply will depend on the type of custody arrangement you have with your ex-spouse. If you were designated as the parent of primary residence in your property settlement agreement, the court will engage in a two-pronged analysis. The court will first determine whether you have a good faith reason to relocate. If you are able to satisfy that prong, the court will then examine whether the move will be harmful to your children’s interests.
In the event, however, that you and your spouse share equal parenting time, the standard that the court applies will be different. In that case, the court will seek to determine whether the move will be in the children’s best interests. This may be a more difficult standard to overcome than that used if you have been named the parent of primary residence.
If you are contemplating relocating out of state with your children, be sure to consult with an attorney to understand your rights and obligations. [Posted by Jenny Birz, Esq.]