Changes to NJ Custody Relocation Laws

If you are seeking to move to a distance that makes your current custody schedule difficult or impossible to follow it classifies as a relocation. In the event of a move that does classify as a relocation the party looking to move should obtain the written consent of the other parent or court approval. Previously, New Jersey courts primarily focused on if there would be any harm to the child in allowing the move. In a recent decision (Bisbing v. Bisbing) the New Jersey courts have shifted their focus to considering if the move is in the child’s best interests. This standard puts the burden on the party looking to relocate to demonstrate how it benefits the child. It also allows for a better look at how the move affects both parents.

In the instant case, a mother has primary custody of the parties’ two daughters pursuant to their marital settlement agreement. Mother sought to relocate with the daughters to Utah and Father objected to the move. At the initial court proceeding, the court agreed that the move would not be to the children’s detriment. On appeal, the court held that a best interest analysis should be applied instead. This change in the standard for relocation will certainly have an impact on the number of successful relocation requests given it requires a more stringent analysis as to the effects on the children.

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