Relocation Agreements: A Simple Step That Could Save You Time & Money
By Snyder Sarno D'Aniello Maceri & da Costa LLC on March 04, 2021
Going through a divorce is an emotionally difficult process, especially when there are children involved. As a parent, it is important to focus on the current custody agreement. However, it is also important to devise an agreement in the event either parent decides to relocate. A relocation agreement can create a set of guidelines establishing whether the child can move with the primary custodial parent, and whether visitation will change if said child is relocated. Even if those factors have been included in the custody agreement, they can be amended in the future as the children grow up and become more attached to their community, school and friends. If no written agreement was previously established, it can become a tedious process requiring you to revisit the court system.
In 2017, in Bisbing v. Bisbing, the Court established a new standard in relocation cases: a “best interests analysis”. Under N.J.S.A. 9:2-2, the parent hoping to relocate must show it better serves the child’s interest under the traditional factor-analysis custody determination. This analysis looks at, among other factors:
- The parents’ ability to communicate and cooperate in matters relating to the child;
- The relationship and interaction with the child and its parents and siblings;
- The preference of the child if there are at an age to form an intelligent decision;
- The needs of the child; and
- The fitness of the parents.
In a recent case, K.F. v. N.V., the Appellate Court elaborated on Bisbing v. Bisbing and encouraged all judges to properly apply the “best interests analysis” when looking at relocation cases and sent the original decision back to the trial court. The original ruling decided the child could not be relocated as the non-custodial parent saw the child 202 days out of the year in 2018. The Appellate Court believed the judge put improper weight on this number and should have looked at all of the factors in making his decision. Relocation is a comprehensive process for all parties involved and adding a stipulation in the custody agreement can save both parents time and money. If you are looking to address relocation, it is important to meet with an attorney experienced in this subject.
If you or a loved one have questions regarding divorce, relocation or any Family Law matter, please call (973) 274-5200 or visit snydersarno.com to schedule a consultation today. We are currently accepting new clients and our offices have fully adapted to handle all types of family law matters respecting social distancing, office sanitizing and can address many matters remotely by virtual connectivity including mediations and arbitrations.
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