Our New Jersey child relocation attorneys Discuss the New Standard for NJ Parental Relocation
A new ruling by the New Jersey Supreme Court has changed the standard that courts must use as a guideline when deciding child relocation cases. For the past 16 years, they turned to the Baures factors to help them determine whether or not to allow a custodial parent to relocate with the child to another state. The 2001 case upon which this standard was based was Baures v. Lewis.
Baures: The Standard in Parental Relocation
From 2001 until August 2017, the Court used what has become known as the Baures standard to determine whether or not to allow a custodial parent to relocate with the child from New Jersey to another state.
The Baures analysis comprised twelve factors that judges should consider when a custodial parent wanted to move out of the state with the child without the consent of the child’s other parent. Those factors were fairly easy to meet. As long as the request to move was made in good faith and the custodial parent could show that the move would not be “inimical to the child’s best interests,” then the request would likely be granted.
A New Standard in Parental Relocation
In August 2017 the New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously reversed the 16-year precedent of using Baures to determine whether or not to permit a custodial parent to relocate with the child to another state without the consent of the other parent. It took this action after reviewing Bisbing v Bisbing.
In considering Bisbing v Bisbing, the Supreme Court abandoned the Baures standard and ruled that the same “best interests of the child” standard must be met in relocation cases that is used for other child custody matters.
Bisbing v Bisbing: Background
Jaime Bisbing and Glenn Bisbing III divorced in 2014 after about nine years of marriage. Jaime had primary custody of their twin daughters, but Glenn also played an active role in the girls’ lives.
Although Jaime and Glenn agreed to a provision in their divorce agreement that neither would relocate with the girls if either of them objected, shortly after their divorce became final, Jaime announced that she was engaged to a man living in Utah and that she would be moving with the twins to that state.
A trial judge ruled in Jaime’s favor, citing Baures. Jaime proceeded to relocate with the children to Utah.
Glenn appealed and the New Jersey Appellate Division vacated the trial judge’s ruling. One reason cited for this action was that there was evidence that Jaime had known of her pending engagement before the divorce was final. The Court reasoned, therefore, that she had not signed the document, in which she agreed not to relocate, in good faith.
Although the issues in this case remain unresolved at this time, the Court used this case as an opportunity to review the use of the Baures standard when determining child relocation matters.
New Standard: Best Interests of the Child
The New Jersey Supreme Court abandoned the Baures standard and ruled that the courts must instead use a “best interests of the child” standard.
In her written statement for the Court, Justice Anne Patterson stated that the Baures standard did not represent a trend in New Jersey family law. She explained that since Baures was decided in 2001, no New Jersey statute asserted that the custodial parent has a presumptive right to relocate with a child to another state.
Courts will now have to use the same “best interests of the child” standard that is used for other child custody cases in New Jersey and many other states.
Best Interests of the Child
To determine whether or not an action is in the best interests of the child, a judge considers several basic factors, including the child’s physical and emotional health and safety; each parent’s co-parenting skills; and practical concerns, such as the child’s schooling.
What This Change Means for You
This new ruling by the New Jersey Supreme Court may make it more difficult for a custodial parent to move out of the state with a child without the consent of the child’s other parent. Looking at it another way, the noncustodial parent will be given more of a chance to remain an integral part of the child’s life.
The Best Interests of the Child has long been the standard for decisions regarding child custody and parenting. It is now the standard for child relocation issues as well.
If you have questions about how this change might affect you, you should contact a New Jersey divorce and family law attorney with expertise in parental relocation cases.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide legal advice. If you have a question about divorce, child relocation, child custody, parenting plans, or any other family law issues, contact a qualified New Jersey family law attorney for advice.
Do you need help with relocation, child custody, a parenting plan, or any other divorce or family law matter? The experienced New Jersey child relocation attorneys at Aretsky Law Group, P.C., can help.
Contact us 24/7 at 1-800-537-4154 for an initial consultation.