When couples go through a divorce, they are separating their lives. However, their lives can still be intertwined in the event that they have children together. When this happens, parents are legally bound to abide by the custody arrangements determined in their divorce proceedings. Yet, as life goes on, a parent’s situation may change. When new circumstances present themselves in life, such as a job opportunity or family matters, a parent may need to relocate.
When a custodial parent has to move, they usually want their child to move as well. This can make for a difficult situation, as non-custodial parents typically do not want their child to move away from them. While they do not have physical custody of their child, it is important to know that the non-custodial parent has the right to speak up and fight for their child to stay.
Physical Custody vs Legal Custody
When custody is determined during a divorce, parents may be awarded physical and legal custody of their child. While these are different concepts, one is not necessarily more important than the other. They both cover different aspects of a child’s life. Physical custody determines a custodial parent. This settles where the child will live with the majority of their time. While this may be, the child also spends time in the non-custodial parent’s home.
Alternatively, legal custody establishes the amount of influence a parent has in their child’s life. This allows a parent to be involved in the decision making for important matters of the child’s life. This includes issues such as medical treatment, the child’s education, religious practices, and even relocation. Even if a parent does not have physical custody, they still have the right to speak up in matters of their child’s possible relocation.
Laws Regarding Relocation
New Jersey laws regarding the relocation of a child changed in August of 2017. The state Supreme Court ruled that the court is required to make decisions with the “best interest” standard. This means it must be proven that the child’s relocation would be in their best interest, despite moving away from one of their parents.
During cases of relocation, the court considers many different factors to come to a decision. This can include:
- The bond between the child and each parent
- The impact of the move on the child’s established relationships
- Social life
- The reasons for and against the move
- Other implications of the child and custodial parent moving
When a non-custodial parent opposes the relocation of their child, the court usually calls for an evaluation of the child and the family to be done by a mental health professional. This helps the court come to an appropriate decision.
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