When a custodial parent wants to move out of New Jersey, that parent must either have the consent of the other non-custodial parent or obtain the court's permission. If the non-custodial parent does not consent to the relocation, then the court becomes involved. If the non-custodial parent does not consent to the child's relocation, then the custodial spouse must file an application to the court to relocate. If the custodial parent moves without first obtaining the court's permission, then he/she could be breaking New Jersey law.
Generally, the party seeking relocation will file a motion with the court for relocation. Often, a New Jersey family court will then order a plenary hearing, or mini-trial, where testimony is taken and evidence is submitted, including what may be the best interest analysis by an expert, in order for the court to determine whether or not the relocation should be ordered. A court may look at what is not against the best interests of the child when making such a determination. A parent of primary residence generally must show good cause for the relocation which may include an employment opportunity or family living in the new location. A parenting plan must be proposed that gives the parent of alternate residence adequate parenting time in the future.
To obtain court approval to remove a child from the state of New Jersey, a person must be able to show (1) a good faith reason for the move; (2) that the move will not adversely affect the non-custodial parent's visitation, and (3) that it is in the best interest of the children to remain with the custodial parent and move out of the state.
Additionally, if moving to a new state would affect the existing custody arrangement, the party seeking to remove the child must also show it is in the child's best interest to move.
The courts are becoming more liberal in granting relocation motions. However, the custodial parent must ensure that the parent who still lives in New Jersey has adequate visitation rights. Quite often, the courts will require that the moving parent be required to pay for any transportation costs for the child to go back to New Jersey to visit with the other parent.
In many cases, there is just no solution to resolving a relocation motion/application. Initially, the court will refer to a relocation application to custody mediation. Custody mediation is not binding on the parties. If the parties still can't agree on a reasonable settlement, then the relocation application will be set down for a plenary hearing. This type of plenary hearing is called a Holder hearing.