After a divorce, former spouses move on separately with their lives. In doing so, they can be presented with new opportunities and situations that change their life. Sometimes, these circumstances can require a person to move. This may be due to a job offer or family matters. This can be a very exciting time in a person’s life. However, if they are a parent, this can make for a difficult situation if they wish to bring their child with them.

Typically, the parent wants their child to relocate as well. In many cases, the other parent may oppose this move because they want their child to stay close to them. When this happens, the parents may need to go through a trial to settle this matter. During this time, it is important to know what non-custodial parents still have the right to fight for their child to stay.

Physical Custody vs Legal Custody

When custody arrangements are determined, physical custody and legal custody will be determined. While they are two different concepts, they are both important. Physical custody establishes a child’s custodial parent. This is the parent with whom the child will live the majority of the time. However, a child still spends time in the non-custodial parent’s house as well.

Legal custody is separate from this, as it determines the influence a parent has in their child’s life. When a parent is awarded legal custody, they are able to be involved in making important decisions regarding the upbringing of their child. This includes issues such as medical treatment, the child’s education, religious practices, and even relocation. Even if a parent is not awarded physical custody, it is important to still fight for legal custody of the child. This allows them to have a say in the important matters of their child’s life, including their possible relocation.


In 2017, the New Jersey Supreme Court made a new law regarding relocation cases. This stated that all courts within the state are required to make decisions regarding relocation with the “best interest” standard. This means that they must rule with the child’s best interest in mind. This requires the parent in favor of relocation to prove that it would be best for the child, despite moving away from their other parent.

In order to come to a conclusion regarding a child’s relocation, the court will consider several different factors before reaching a decision. This can include:

  • The bond between the child and each parent
  • The impact of the move on the child’s established relationships
  • Education
  • Social life
  • The reasons for and against the move
  • Other implications of the child and custodial parent moving

When the other parent opposes the relocation of their child, the court usually appoints a medical health professional to conduct an evaluation of the child and the family. This helps the court to reach a fair decision.

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