After child custody arrangements have been settled, it is not uncommon for issues to arise regarding the relocation of one parent with the child or children. The legal outcomes of these situations can vary widely depending on the circumstances, and it is necessary to protect your right to parent your child. At Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook & Cooper, our New Jersey family law lawyers offer diligent representation to people in the Westfield area and elsewhere in New Jersey. We recognize the complexities involved in child custody matters, and we can consistently keep our clients informed of their options and rights.Relocation and Child Custody in New Jersey
In situations when the custodial parent wishes to relocate with the child out of state, he or she has the burden of proving that there is a good-faith reason for the move and that the child will not suffer from it. Essentially, the court considers the interests of both the parents and the child. The court examines several factors in making this determination, including the reasons for the relocation, any reasons provided in opposition to the relocation, the history of the relationship between the parties, the child’s preference, whether the child will receive equal educational and health opportunities or necessary accommodations, whether the non-custodial parent will be able to maintain a relationship with the child, whether the custodial parent is able to foster the relationship between the child and non-custodial parent, and the effect on extended family relationships.
The standard is somewhat higher when true co-parenting exists and the parents share joint physical custody of their child, whether informally or by formal agreement. In such cases, a court will treat a removal application as a motion for a change in custody. It must decide whether changed circumstances exist and whether relocation is in the best interest of the child.
Due to these differences, the characterization of a parent’s status as joint or primary custodian may be significant. New Jersey courts have emphasized that a particular designation on a custody agreement is not conclusive. Instead, the matter requires an analysis regarding the amount of time that each parent spends with the child performing the functions and duties normally reposed in a primary caretaker.
Accordingly, while physical parenting time is an important factor, the court does not solely determine custodial status based on the number of parenting days. It also considers the division of key custodial responsibilities between the parents. For example, the court will take into consideration who brings the child to and from school, gets involved in the child’s sport or recreational activities, plans the child’s meals, cares for the child overnight, and attends to the child’s medical and health needs, as well as other responsibilities.Consult a New Jersey Family Law Lawyer
Assistance from a qualified family law attorney in New Jersey can be beneficial in deciding how to proceed with your relocation, or the relocation of your child’s other parent. At Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook & Cooper, our Westfield attorneys bring significant experience with child custody matters to people throughout New Jersey. We maintain additional offices in Westfield, Summit, and Red Bank, and we can serve residents of communities such as Short Hills, Marlboro, Plainsboro, Montgomery, Chatham, and Mountainside. To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office at (908) 233-6800 or contact us online.