Let us say that you have received a long-awaited promotion at work, but it requires relocating with your nine-year-old son, Michael, from Shelton, CT, to Newark, NJ.
What kind of issues will you face with the other parent and the court, and how will the move affect your child?
When relocation requires child custody modification, the court always decides based on your child’s most favorable interests. The judge considers several factors:
- The child’s emotional and developmental needs
- The parents’ ability to meet those needs
- The relationship the child has with the other parent
- The impact that relocation would have on that relationship
- The impact of the move on the child’s education and social needs
The judge will give special consideration to Michael’s need for stability and continuity of lifestyle, as well as the preservation of his relationship with both parents.
Travel and visitation issues
The court will want to know how you and the other parent plan to approach the changes that relocation would bring in terms of visitation. Driving time between Shelton and Newark is about an hour and a half. Train travel is possible, but there are transfers involved, so your son will not use the train unless accompanied by a parent. Still, you and the other parent have agreed that this may work occasionally. You also agree that Michael will spend more time with the other parent during the summer and on certain holidays.
Most favorable case efforts
You should assume that the court is of the initial opinion that relocation will not be in your son’s primary interests. Therefore, you must offer proof that his welfare is your top priority. Prepare to go to court with details about the new community in Newark, the new home and school, the availability of friends the same age as your child and any other facts that indicate that Michael benefits from the move.