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One of the most devastating issues that can arise in a divorce, for a family from Livingston, New Jersey – the mother, the father and the children – is when one parent asks for child custody relocation out of state.

This problem can arise before the divorce is entered, but it often comes up after the divorce is final.

People may want child custody relocation for any number of reasons – a better job, emotional support from their family, lower expenses. And although ideally, after a divorce, parents remain near each other and close to Livingston, New Jersey so the child may have regular access to both, that ideal is not always the reality, especially in these difficult economic times.

And whatever the reason for the move, a move out of state makes it much more difficult for children to maintain close and regular contact with both of their parents.

To the extent possible, children should have equal access to both parents.  Parents are sources of security and love for a child, and a child has a right to continue to develop a meaningful relationship with each parent. The severance of the ties to either parent is contrary to a child’s best interest.

Under New Jersey law, a child may not be relocated out of the state unless either parents’ consent or a court issues an order permitting removal.

The office of Woolcock Patton, located in Livingston, New Jersey, has dealt with many child custody relocation cases and one of the first questions in any case where a parent seeks to relocate out of state with the child is whether or not the parents truly share custody. Truly shared custody means not only that each parent has close to an equal time with the child, but that they each participate equally in the care of the child.  If custody is truly shared, the party seeking to move out of state must prove that it is in the best interests of the child to move. In most cases, the parent seeking removal cannot prove that and removal would be denied.

On the other hand, if the parent seeking child custody relocation is the primary caretaker, all he or she has to prove is that there is a good faith reason for the move and that the move will not be harmful to the child.  That is a much easier test to meet and as a result, in those cases, removal is generally granted.

Because the nature of the shared custody is an important factor in determining whether a child can be relocated, it is important to fight for the type of custody that is needed before a divorce is entered, if future relocation is a concern.

In the end, there is rarely an easy answer or even an entirely satisfactory one to the problem of child custody relocation. If removal is denied, the custodial parent who was seeking to move may be embittered by the assault on his or her autonomy.  If it is granted, the noncustodial parent may live with the abiding belief that his or her connection to the child has been lost forever. And if one parent has to move away from Livingston, New Jersey, with or without the child, the child faces the difficulty of maintaining a close tie to that parent regardless of whether the court permits or denies a motion to relocate.

In dealing with these issues, New Jersey courts are rightly concerned about preserving a child’s connection to both parents.  Court’s consider not only the opportunities available for the child in the new location, but whether a visitation and communication schedule can be developed that will allow the noncustodial parent to maintain a full and continuous relationship with the child; the effect of the move on extended family relationships here and in the new location and any other factor bearing on the child’s interest.

In attempting to preserve a child’s relationship with both parents after relocation, a parenting plan should be considered that would give the non-custodial parent longer blocks of parenting time during holidays and summers, as well as frequent weekends.  Additionally, webcams can be used to give the child regular access to the non-custodial parent.

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