New Jersey State Bar Association
Bergen County Bar Association

Spousal Relocation

Child Custody Lawyer Assisting Bergen County Residents

In this economy, it is not uncommon for a spouse or parent to need to relocate. In New Jersey, custody laws are gender-neutral, and both parents have equal footing. Custody arrangements may be unique to a family, but they are always based on a child's best interests. However, in some cases, one parent decides to relocate. If you are concerned about spousal relocation to another county or state, it is important to hire an experienced Bergen County spousal relocation lawyer. At Leopold Law, we may be able to help you negotiate a favorable arrangement or fight for you in court in connection with family law matters such as spousal relocation.

Procedures and Standards Related to Spousal Relocation

Under N.J.S.A. 9:2-2, if New Jersey has jurisdiction, you will need the permission of a child's noncustodial parent or a court order to move. The purpose of the requirement is to protect a noncustodial parent's right to continue having a relationship with the child. In the case of Baures v. Lewis, for example, a parent with primary custody who wanted to relocate a child out of state over the other parent's objection needed to show that there was a good-faith reason for an interstate move and that moving would not be inimical to the child’s interests.

However, in 2017, this rule was altered somewhat. The lower court followed Baures and found that there was a good-faith reason to move and that moving would not be inimical to a couple's daughter's interests. On appeal, this judgment was reversed by an appellate court that found that a trial court should not follow the Baures standard when the defendant made a showing that the plaintiff had negotiated their custody agreement in bad faith. It required the court to instead decide whether a child's best interests were served by the relocation.

Accordingly, as a spousal relocation attorney in Bergen County can explain, a plaintiff who negotiates to have custody in bad faith has a higher burden of proof on the issue of cause under N.J.S.A. 9:2-2 than what was previously imposed by Baures. This ruling was affirmed and modified by the highest court in New Jersey, which found that the same standard should be applied to all interstate relocation disputes brought by a parent of primary residence when custody was equally shared, and the other parent was designated as the parent of alternate residence. The highest court found that the best interests standard should be applied to all relocation cases, rather than just those involving bad faith in negotiating a shared custody arrangement.

When determining custody, including in a spousal relocation, the court is supposed to consider the parents' ability to agree and cooperate in connection with issues affecting the child. It also needs to take into account the parents' willingness to accept custody, a history of a parent not being supportive of the other parent's parenting time, the child's relationship to parents and siblings, any domestic violence history, the child's safety, the child's preferences if they are old enough, the child's needs, the stability of the environment, the quality and continuity of the child’s schooling, parental fitness, the closeness of the parents' homes, the quality of time spent with the child before the separation, the parents' job responsibilities, and the child's age. Parents are not found to be unfit except when the parents' actions trigger a significant adverse impact on the child.

Seek Assistance from a Bergen County Spousal Relocation Attorney

Spousal relocation can be a challenging issue, whether it comes up during a divorce or some time after divorce and custody have been determined. After going through a custody proceeding, it can be stressful to revisit the issue of custody in connection with spousal relocation. You should retain an experienced attorney whether you are pursuing a relocation or fighting your ex-spouse's proposed relocation. Our legal team at Leopold Law may be able to help you in connection with a spousal relocation dispute. We handle family law cases in Bergen, Passaic, Hudson, and Essex Counties. Call Leopold Law at (201) 345-5907 or contact us via our online form to set up a free consultation with a spousal relocation lawyer in Bergen County or surrounding areas.

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