Child Relocation Cases in New Jersey

When a couple goes through a divorce, they are separating their lives to continue without one another. While this is true, spouses’ lives can be tied together in many ways. If they have children, the parents must reach an agreement on custody and follow the arrangements. However, life can be unexpected and present new opportunities that require a chance. There are cases in which a parent may need to relocate, whether it may be for a new job or family matters.

When a custodial parent has to move, they typically wish to bring their child with them. This often creates a difficult situation, as non-custodial parents may want their child to stay near them. In these situations, it is important to know that a non-custodial parent has the right to fight for their child to not relocate with the other parent.

Physical Custody vs Legal Custody

When parents have to determine custody, there are two main types of arrangements: physical and legal custody. These are both very important, as they cover different aspects of a child’s life. Physical custody determines the child’s custodial parent. This establishes where the child will live with the majority of the time, although they do spend time in their other parent’s residence as well.

Legal custody determines the amount of influence a parent can have in their child’s life. Even if a parent does not have physical custody of their child, it is important to fight for legal custody. This is because it allows the non-custodial parent to be involved in making important decisions regarding the child’s life. This includes issues such as medical treatment, the child’s education, religious practices, and more. This can also include relocation. Having legal custody of a child allows a parent the right to speak up in matters of their child’s possible relocation.


Relocation laws were changed in the state of New Jersey in 2017. Set in place by the state Supreme Court, it was decided that rulings by the court are to be made with the “best interest” standard. This requires proof that relocating the child would be in their best interest, despite being away from their other parent.

During cases of relocation, the court considers many different factors to come to a decision. This can include:

  • The bond between the child and each parent
  • The impact of the move on the child’s established relationships
  • Education
  • Social life
  • The reasons for and against the move
  • Other implications of the child and custodial parent moving

In the event that a parent opposes the relocation of their child, the court usually calls for an evaluation of the child and the family to be done by a mental health professional. This helps the court come to an appropriate decision.

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