In the newly published decision of Benjamin v. Benjamin out of the Ocean County Family Part, which has released several reported decisions within the past few years, the court held that having a guaranteed job in another state is not a mandatory prerequisite for it to approve a custodial parent’s request to relocate to another state with a child born. The court did hold, however, that the “likelihood that the custodial parent can provide the child with a financially stable household in the new state, including obtaining employment as necessary is relevant in determining whether a proposed relocation is reasonable or inimical to a child’s interests.”
On first blush, the court’s statement that the primary residential custodian has the right to seek relocation almost suggests that such a right is automatic. A closer read of the decision and its ultimate holding, however, indicates that the standard fits within the existing relocation standard.
The parties were divorced in 2008 and agreed in a settlement agreement that mom would be the child’s primary residential custodian. In 2012, mom filed an application to relocate with the child to North Carolina, which dad objected to by filing a cross motion seeking a transfer to him of residential custody. One of dad’s arguments was that mom did not have a job in North Carolina, which would inure to the child’s financial detriment.