A very common question asked by divorced parents is whether the custodial parent has the right to move with the child either to another state (interstate) or to another location within New Jersey (intrastate). In light of these questions, a review of the applicable legal standards for interstate and intrastate moves should provide some guidance.
N.J.S.A. 9:2-2 is designed to protect the parenting relationship between a child and a noncustodial parent when the custodial parent seeks to move to another state. In light of 9:2-2, the New Jersey Supreme Court in its seminal decision of Baures v. Lewis, 167 N.J. 91 (2001) developed a set of 12 factors to consider when reviewing a custodial parent’s removal application (which have also been applied to an international move). These factors are:
1. The reasons given for the move;
2. The reasons given for the opposition;
3. The past history of dealings between the parties insofar as it bears on the reasons advanced by both parties for supporting and opposing the move;
4. Whether the child will receive educational, health and leisure opportunities at least equal to what is available here;
5. Any special needs or talents of the child that require accommodation and whether such accommodation or its equivalent is available in the new location;
6. 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;
7. The likelihood that the custodial parent will continue to foster the child’s relationship with the noncustodial parent if the move is allowed;
8. The effect of the move on extended family relationships here and in the new location;
9. If the child is of age, his or her preference;
10. Whether the child is entering his or her senior year in high school at which point he or she should generally not be moved until graduation without his or her consent;
11. Whether the noncustodial parent has the ability to relocate; and
12. Any other factor bearing on the child’s interest.