Relocation and Child Custody Attorney Union County, NJ
Serving Parents across Linden, Elizabeth, Scotch Plains, Westfield, Plainfield, and Union County
Many times after a divorce and child custody agreement has already been finalized, one parent or the other may wish to relocate. When that same parent wishes to relocate with their children, or their planned relocation has the potential to drastically impact their ability to maintain the terms of their existing child custody agreement, that parent will most likely need to seek court approval for their relocation.
Thanks to the recent NJ Supreme Court decision in the case of Bisbing v Bisbing, all child custody relocation hearings are decided solely upon the best interests of the children involved, regardless of the type of child custody that either parent has.
Whether you are seeking to relocate with your children, or are facing a pending relocation request from a former spouse or partner, The Law Office of Edward S. Cooper is ready to guide and advise you through the entire process, and ensure that your parental rights are properly represented and protected. Our firm has extensive experience working with parents to resolve child custody and child custody modification matters of all kinds in towns across Union County, including Linden, Elizabeth, Scotch Plains, Westfield, and Plainfield, and we are ready to put that experience and our effective and knowledgeable legal service to work for you today.
Call our office today to discuss your child custody relocation matter in a free and confidential consultation.
In-State Relocation Attorney Scotch Plains, NJ
When it comes to relocations within the state of New Jersey, there is no exact legal definition of when that relocation will require a court decision and when it will not. However, the general rule of thumb is that a relocation will require a court hearing when that relocation is greater than 100 miles from the parent’s current home, or generally when the planned relocation has the potential to make following the existing child custody and visitation time plan unfeasible.
If the relocation will constitute a “substantial change in circumstance”, then according to case law established in Schulze v. Morris, either the relocating parent will need to secure court approval, or the non-relocating parent will have the option to contest the relocation. Should a relocation become contested, the courts will perform a “best interest analysis” (the details of which you can view in a below section of this page), and will ultimately modify the existing child custody agreement based upon what the court believes is in the best interests of the children.
If you are considering an in-state relocation, or your former spouse is planning to relocate within the state of New Jersey, contact our Scotch Plains, NJ relocation attorneys to discuss whether or not this relocation may require court approval, and potentially a modification to your child custody agreement.
Out-of-State Relocation Lawyer Westfield, NJ
So while there is a bit of a legal grey area when it comes to in-state relocations, any and all out-of-state relocations will require a court approval, and a court hearing to determine how exactly the child custody modification will need to be modified in order to reflect this planned change in circumstance.
Parents who are planning to relocate out of New Jersey and wish to take their children with them must first submit a request with the family court system in order to “show good cause” for their relocation. Some of the most commonly accepted “good causes” for an out-of-state relocation include:
- In order for the relocating parent and/or children to be closer to extended family or other sources of support
- In order for the relocating parent and/or children to receive medical treatment not available in their current location
- In order for the relocating parent and/or children to avoid a source of risk or harm
- In order for the relocating parent and/or children to pursue better educational opportunities
- In order for the relocating parent to pursue a better employment opportunity
- In order for the relocating parent to live with a new spouse
- In order to significantly improve the quality of life of the relocating parent and/or the children
Remember, this list is not definitive, simply the most commonly cited “good causes” for a relocation request. However, if the court believes the relocation request to be in bad faith, i.e. the relocating parent wishes to limit their children’s relationship with the other parent, or wishes to “get back at” a former spouse, than the court most likely will deny the relocating parent’s request to relocate with their children.
On the other hand, if the court finds that there is sufficient good cause for the relocation, then a child custody modification hearing will take place during which the court will decide which location/parent can better support the children’s best interests, and modify the existing child custody agreement to grant one parent or the other primary custody of the children. This can be either the relocating parent or the non-relocating parent, depending upon the findings of the court’s best interest analysis.
Child Custody Modification Hearings and Best Interest Analyses in New Jersey
Described in N.J.S.A. 9:4-2, best interest analyses are performed during any child custody modification hearing, including out-of-state relocations and, in some cases, in-state relocations.
During a best interest analysis, the courts will interview both parents, adults with close relationships with the children, child psychology experts, and in some situations even the children themselves. This best interest analysis is designed to give the courts a better understanding of several key factors, factors which will help them make their final decision regarding how exactly to modify the existing child custody agreement. These factors include:
- The stated reasons for the relocation
- The stated reasons for the other parent to oppose the relocation
- The relationship between the parents and how it might affect their decisions and actions in the relocation matter
- The educational, health, and leisure opportunities for the children in both locations
- The ability of both locations to support the special talents and/or needs of the children
- The possibilities for the children to maintain a relationship with both parents in either location
- Whether or not the courts believe that one parent or the other will encourage their children to maintain their relationship with the other parent after the relocation
- The affect of the relocation on the relationship of the children and extended family members
- The possibility for the non-relocating parent to also relocate
- The children’s own preferences if the court believes they are of an age and maturity level to express them
- Any other factors the court deems relevant to the specific situation
Clearly, a great deal of consideration goes into the court’s ultimate decision regarding any child custody modification or relocation matter. And while the courts will consider all of the above factors, the weight they lend to each specific factor often depends upon the arguments and presentations of your attorney. By retaining the counsel of our experienced Union County child relocation attorneys during such a matter, we can help you to better present your unique position and considerations to the court, and help you ensure that your rights as a parent, and the best interests of your children, are properly represented and protected.
Contact A Union, NJ Relocation Attorney Today
At The Law Office of Edward S. Cooper, we have extensive experience helping parents across Linden, Elizabeth, Westfield, Scotch Plains, Plainfield, and the greater Union County area with all manner of child custody issues, including child custody modifications and relocation requests.
Attorney Edward Cooper strongly believes that by listening closely to each of his client’s unique needs and concerns in any legal matter, and keeping them highly informed and involved throughout the process, he can better work to achieve the resolution which best meets those same needs and concerns.
To speak with our office and Edward Cooper today in a free and confidential consultation regarding your relocation or the relocation of a co-parent, and how we can help you when it comes time to modify your child custody agreement, please contact us online, or through our Linden, NJ office at (908) 481-4625.