Relocating After a Divorce: When is it Permitted?

Child CustodyAfter completing a divorce proceeding, individuals sometimes decide that they would like to have a fresh start and move to other parts of the country where they can begin the next chapter of their lives. If a mother or father has residential custody of a child, they must obtain court approval before relocating after a divorce. New Jersey courts examine different elements of a case before making the decision of denying or approving a motion to relocate.

Factors Considered in Relocating After a Divorce

In considering a request to move outside of New Jersey with a child or children, there are several factors that the court must take into consideration. These factors include, but are not limited to:

  1. the reason(s) for the move;
  2. the reason(s) for the opposition;
  3. the past history of dealings between the parties;
  4. whether the child or children will receive educational, health and leisure opportunities at least equal to what is available in New Jersey;
  5. any special needs or talents of the child or children;
  6. whether a parenting time schedule and communication schedule can be developed that will allow the non-custodial parent to maintain a full and continuous relationship with the child or children;
  7. the likelihood that the custodial parent will continue to foster the relationship between the child or children and the non-custodial parent if the move is permitted;
  8. the effect of the move on extended family relationships in both New Jersey and the new location;
  9. if the child is of age, his or her preference;
  10. 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;
  11. whether the non-custodial parent has the ability to relocate; and
  12. any other factor bearing on the child’s interest.

The Moving Parent has the Burden

The Supreme Court of New Jersey established these factors in Baures v. Lewis, taking into account the overall best interests of the child or children involved in the move. In Baures, the court established that the parent who is trying to obtain approval for relocating after a divorce has the burden to prove that there is a good faith reason for the proposed move, and the proposed move will not be harmful to the child’s interest. A parent cannot simply decide that they would like to move and uproot a child from their natural surroundings without having a good faith reason for finding it necessary.

Is a Guaranteed Job Necessary for Relocating After a Divorce?

Although there are several factors that must be taken into consideration by the court before granting a motion for relocating after a divorce, employment in the state you are moving to is not a pre-requisite. Courts have found that it would be too difficult to require a parent to obtain employment in the other state before they even know that they will be approved to leave the state they are in. It could take a substantial amount of time for a motion to relocate to be decided from the original filing date, and many factors can prolong when the motion is actually decided. Also, employers would be hesitant to hire an employee who wouldn’t be able to provide them with a set starting date. Even if a person is able to obtain employment in another state, it is highly doubtful that an employer will hold the position open for an indefinite amount of time.

Instead of looking into whether the custodial parent has a guaranteed job, the courts have found it more important to determine whether the moving parent has a reasonable plan to financially provide for the child and will be able to establish an economically stable home.  In making this determination, it is appropriate to analyze the moving parent’s employability and work history. If the court is able to determine that the moving party is economically stable, has the ability to obtain other employment, and the reason for moving is financially reasonable, then it may be likely that the court will grant the moving party’s request for relocating after a divorce.

Discuss Your Relocation with a Divorce Attorney

If you are interested in obtaining more information on child custody in New Jersey, contact the divorce attorneys at Villani & DeLuca, P.C.  Experienced NJ divorce lawyers can be reached at (732) 965-3350 for a free initial consultation.