New Jersey law makes it clear that if you are the custodial parent of a child, you must either have permission of the other parent or a court order allowing you to move the child outside the state of New Jersey.
The New Jersey courts in the case of Baures v. Lewis gave us 12 factors to consider in determining whether the relocation will be permitted. It is important to note that the Baures factors are only guidelines. No single factor is dispositive to the case, not all factors need to be considered equally, and not all of the factors listed will be relevant in every case.
- The reasons given for the move
The court will consider why the parent wants to move the child, whether for employment, financial, familial, or other reasons.
- The reasons given for the opposition
The reasons why the other parent does not wish for the child to move. Is the reason spite, or is it because it will be hard to visit with the child? Will the transition be difficult for the child? The court will weigh the pros and cons of the move.
- The past history of dealings between the parties insofar as it bears on the reasons advanced by both parties for supporting and opposing the move;
The ability (or inability) of the parents to work together on childcare issues will be considered.
- Whether the child will receive educational, health and leisure opportunities at least equal to what is available here;
The court is concerned with what is in the best interest of the child, and ensuring that the child will have adequate educational recreational opportunities is a factor.
- Any special needs or talents of the child that require accommodation and whether such accommodation or its equivalent is available in the new location;
Similar to the previous factor, the court wants to know whether the child will receive the same support and opportunities in the new location.
- Whether a visitation and communication schedule can be developed that will allow the noncustodial parent to maintain a full and continuous relationship with the child;
The court wants to ensure that a relocation of the child will not harm an existing relationship with both parents.
- The likelihood that the custodial parent will continue to foster the child’s relationship with the noncustodial parent if the move is allowed;
The court will take into account any history showing a willingness or reluctance of the parents to encourage visitation with the other parent.
- The effect of the move on extended family relationships here and in the new location;
The stability on the entire family unit is a factor the court will consider.
- If the child is of age, his or her preference;
If the child is of an appropriate age to be able to voice a sincere preference, the court will consider this preference.
- Whether the child is entering his or her senior year in high school at which point he or she should generally not be moved until graduation without his or her consent;
Again, the age of the child is considered. The court here expresses the guideline that a child in his or her last year of school should not be moved unwillingly.
- Whether the noncustodial parent has the ability to relocate;
Can the other parent move to the same location as the child?
- Any other factor bearing on the child’s interest.
Child relocation in the state of New Jersey requires advance planning and legal advice. Call Peter Van Aulen, an experienced family lawyer at (201) 845-7400 for a free initial consultation.
Baures v. Lewis, 167 N.J. 91 (2001).