For divorced co-parents, a parenting agreement can be quite beneficial. A parenting agreement outlines all interactions between parents and their children, identifies the type of custody (joint or sole), visitation rights, and dispute resolution. This last item provides guidelines for how parents can dispute potential changes to the agreement, like when a custodial parent wishes to relocate the children.
Without an agreement or dispute plan, the courts will decide what is in the best interest of the child. These guidelines vary by state, New Jersey included.
Child relocation requirements
In 2017, New Jersey child relocation laws underwent a significant overhaul. Before a relocation can occur, a custodial parent must now obtain permission from a non-custodial parent or the court before moving out of state. As a baseline, New Jersey courts maintain that living in a state with both parents is in the best interests of the child. It will be on the burden of the custodial parent to prove otherwise.
The new law’s “best interest analysis” examines the relocation case based on how it will primarily serve the children. A court will evaluate the following criteria:
- The parents’ ability to cooperate
- History of domestic violence and safety of the child
- The needs and preferences of the child
- The child’s relationships with parents and siblings and how much time they spend together
- The geographical distance between parents’ houses and the stability of those homes
These new criteria help courts prioritize the needs of the children over the parents in these cases. Parents looking to dispute the relocation of a child may find success by proving these elements in their favor.
Help with legal counsel
Many parents looking to dispute a parenting agreement or child relocation have found success working with a lawyer experienced with New Jersey family law. These often emotional cases may be challenging for a parent fighting to keep their children close, and an attorney can help by focusing on the legal paperwork and courtroom policy.