New Jersey uses a best interest analysis when it comes to making a custody determination where the parents cannot agree. As part of that determination, the statute outlines 14 factors for the court to consider as a starting point in making a best interest analysis. Many of the factors overlap state to state and focus on the care, safety and quality of relationships of the parties involved and the children. New Jersey also requires permission of the other parent or court approval if a parent is seeking to relocate with children. A move is considered a relocation if the distance makes your current custody schedule difficult or impossible to follow. New Jersey courts also focus on whether the move is in the child’s best interests in a relocation case. This standard puts the burden on the party looking to relocate to demonstrate how it benefits the child.
The full list of factors to consider in a best interests analysis pursuant to N.J.S.A. 9:2-4 are as follows: (1) the parents’ ability to agree, communicate and cooperate regarding the child; (2) the parents’ willingness to accept custody and any history of unjustified withholding; (3) the interaction and relationship of the child with the parents and other siblings; (4) history of domestic violence; (5) safety of the child and/or either parent from physical abuse by other parent; (6) preference of child of sufficient age and capacity; (7) needs of the child; (8) stability of home environment; (9) quality and continuity of child’s education; (10) fitness of parents; (11) geographical proximity of parents’ homes; (12) extent and quality of time spent with child both before and after separation; (13) parents’ employment responsibilities; and (14) age and number of children.