When custody and visitation orders are issued in New Jersey, it based on the circumstances of the children and parents at the time of the order. This could be when the children are fairly young and could be in place until the children become adults. This means that the custody and visitation orders could be in place for many years.
During those years, people’s lives may change and sometimes significantly. In some situations, the changes in their lives may require them to move. They may be hired for a new job, receive a promotion or job transfer that requires them to relocate. They may also have to move to help care for sick family members and for other reasons as well.
While they may just want to pack up and leave, if they have a visitation order it can become much more complicated than that. They cannot violate the order, so before they move they may need to seek permission from the court, if the other parent objects to the move.
How judges determine whether a move is in the best interests of the child
When there are disputes, judges must analyze a number of factors to determine whether to allow the move. They will analyze:
- The reason the parent is moving and why the other parent is objecting to the move
- The past parenting history between the parents
- How the child’s current educational, health and social options compare to the new opportunities
- Whether there is an option for visitation plan based on the parent’s new location to allow the non-moving parent to have consistent visitation with the child
- How the move affects their relationship with other family members
- The child’s preference if they are old enough to express it
- Other factors relevant to determining the child’s best interests.
Developing the original custody and visitation order in New Jersey can be difficult. Changing them later on can sometimes be even more complicated. This is especially true if one parent is moving a significant distance away from the other parent. Ultimately the decision will be based on what is in the best interests of the children though and understanding how to determine that is important.