Child Custody in New Jersey

The Test to Determine Whether a Custodial Parent Can Relocate Out-of-State

Child Custody in New JerseyIn divorce proceedings where there are minor children involved, custody and visitation are important and often complicated issues. New Jersey courts have long recognized the value of having both parents involved in the upbringing of their child. Accordingly, until the turn of the 21st century, a custodial parent who wanted to relocate to another state faced an uphill struggle.

In 2001, state courts relaxed the standards dramatically, citing advances in technology that make it easier for parents and children to communicate at a distance, as well as trends in other states allowing more out-of-state relocations. Child psychologists argued that happier parents make happier children and suggested that the best interests of the children are better served when some of the critical needs of parents are met as well. The New Jersey Supreme Court took all those factors into consideration and issued a new standard for parents who wanted to relocate to another state: they needed only to show a “good faith reason for asking to move out of state” and demonstrate that the move would “not be inimical to the children’s interests.” The court further stated that the potential impact on the noncustodial parent’s visitation, was not, in and of itself, sufficient reason to deny a request to move out of state.

That standard remained in force until 2017, when the New Jersey Supreme Court revisited the matter. The court observed that the trend that had begun around the turn of the century had not expanded since—no additional states were expanding the rights of custodial parents to relocate out-of-state. Furthermore, additional social science studies brought into question the impact of such relocations on children. Accordingly, the New Jersey Supreme Court rejected the “good faith/inimical” test in favor of one that focuses on the “best interests of the child.” In essence, the analysis has shifted from a consideration of the rights of the custodial parent to an examination of the best interests of the child.

Contact an Experienced New Jersey Family Law Attorney

At the law office of David M. Lipshutz, we won’t take your case unless we know we can help. For a private meeting, contact our office online or call us at 856-627-1990. We are available to meet with you Monday through Friday, 9:00 A.M. – 5:00 P.M.