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Preparing for Out-of-State Moves When You Have Child Custody

New Jersey law requires that if you are a custodial parent and want to move out of state with the children, you must obtain the non-custodial parent’s consent or you must get court approval, which requires proving that there is a compelling reason for the relocation and that the move will be in the children’s best interests.

In New Jersey, it used to be that you only had to show that you had a good-faith reason for the move and that it wouldn’t adversely affect your children. However, a 2017 state Supreme Court case, Bisbing v. Bisbing, resulted in drastic changes in the law. Today, the controlling NJ statute says you must have the other spouse’s consent or a court order to relocate to another state.

The court ruled in Bisbing that the guiding principle in such decisions should be the best interests of the children. The 14 criteria for deciding those best interests are set out in a statute. The court will look at the parents’ ability to agree and cooperate in matters relating to their child. Further, the court will examine each parent’s desire and fitness for custody, as well as the extent and quality of time the parents spent with the child before and after the separation. The court will be especially concerned about any evidence of domestic abuse, and how well the child gets along with the siblings it may be coming to live with. To the extent that children are old enough to develop an opinion, their preference will be considered, as will their needs. Finally, the court will consider the safety and stability of the home environment, the age and number of children in that home and how close the parents will be to one another.

A custodial parent can move within the state so long as the move doesn’t have a material impact on the parenting plan. Suppose the custodial parent wants to move across the state and the non-custodial parent has two weekends every month, plus dinner once a week. In that case, the proposed move will clearly adversely impact the existing parenting plan. At that point, the non-custodial parent can challenge the proposed move or even seek custody.

Whether you are seeking or opposing a relocation, you need an experienced and knowledgeable New Jersey child custody attorney who can present arguments that are most helpful to your case.

The Law Offices of Kisha M. Hebbon, LLC in Somerset represents clients in child custody matters and other family law cases throughout New Jersey, including Somerset, Middlesex and Union counties. Call us at 732-873-6464 or contact us online today.

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