Relocation and Divorce: Can I Move with the Children?

It is not uncommon for a divorced or separated parent to want to leave the State of New Jersey with the children to pursue their career or to be closer to family members.  In New Jersey, children of divorced or separated parents cannot move with the children outside of New Jersey unless there is consent between the parents or a Court Order authorizing the move. This scenario is often referred to in family law matters as “relocation”.

Relocation disputes are guided by the New Jersey Supreme Court decision of Bisbing v. Bisbing, 230 N.J. 309, (2017). In all contested relocation disputes in which the parents share legal custody, the Court will conduct a best interests analysis.  In doing so, the court will consider and evaluate several factors, including but not limited to the following:

  • the parents' ability to agree, communicate and cooperate in matters relating to the child;
  • the parents' willingness to accept custody and any history of unwillingness to allow parenting time not based on substantiated abuse;
  • the interaction and relationship of the child with its parents and siblings;
  • the history of domestic violence, if any;
  • the safety of the child and the safety of either parent from physical abuse by the other parent;
  • the preference of the child when of sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent decision; the needs of the child;
  • the stability of the home environment offered;
  • the quality and continuity of the child's education;
  • the fitness of the parents;
  • the geographical proximity of the parents' homes;
  • the extent and quality of the time spent with the child prior to or subsequent to the separation;
  • the parents' employment responsibilities; and
  • the age and number of the children.

It is noted that the same statutory factors may apply for significant moves within New Jersey, judged by distance and/or time it would take to travel from one parent’s home to a new proposed location within the state.

Relocation cases are complicated because of the limited outcomes. The parent who is seeking to move with the children over the other parent’s objection will either be able to move with the children, or the children will be ordered to remain in New Jersey.  The family law attorneys at Cohn Lifland have substantial knowledge and experience in addressing custody matters. If you are seeking to relocate or your ex-spouse is seeking to relocate, or have any questions regarding relocation or any other family law issue, contact the family law attorneys at Cohn Lifland Pearlman Herrmann & Knopf, LLP.