Father Obtains Permission To Relocate With Children
- December 9, 2014
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In the recent Appellate Division case out of Morris County, Valedofsky v. Valedofsky, the Defendant, Jennifer Valedofsky, appealed from a post-judgment 2013 Court Order that allowed the Plaintiff, David Valedofsky, to relocate with their children from New Jersey to Rhode Island. The Appellate Court affirmed the decision of the Family Division. The parties in this case were married in 2000 and subsequently had two (2) children, born in 2004 and 2006 respectively. They obtained a divorce in Pennsylvania in 2010 and the Defendant was directed to be the custodial parent for the children. In 2011, the Plaintiff, who was living in New Jersey applied to the court to gain custody of his children. The Plaintiff was granted primary custody of the children. After this, the Defendant relocated to New Jersey to be closer to her family and her children. She then moved before the court in New Jersey for a 50/50 custody share. In 2012, the judge denied her Motion due to no change in circumstances. In 2013, the Plaintiff filed a Motion with the court to relocate with the children to Rhode Island because he received a promotion in his job that included a raise and expanded his opportunities to further advance within his company. Further, his entire extended family lived in Rhode Island. The Defendant opposed the Motion contesting that the Defendant’s application for relocation was not made in good faith and cross moved for custody of the children. The Motion judge granted the Plaintiff’s Motion to relocate after applying the factors found in Baures v. Lewis, 167 N.J. 91 (2001), and finding that the request was made in good faith that included benefits for the children. The Defendant appealed from this judgment. The Appellate Division held that when the physical custodial relationship among a set of parents is such that one parent serves as the primary caretaker and the other parent as secondary caretaker, then the custodial parent’s request to relocate is governed by the two-part test found in the Baures case. Id. at 122. The test requires that removal be permitted where the preponderance of the evidence demonstrates the custodial parent has a good faith reason for the move and the move will not be inimical to the children’s interests (the children will not suffer from the move). This standard ensures that the custodial parent has the right to seek happiness and fulfillment and guarantees regular communication and contact between the non-custodial parent and the child and incorporates a variation on a best interests analysis by requiring proof that a child will not suffer from the move. MacKinnon v. MacKinnon, 191 N.J. 240, 257 (2007). In this case, the judge that ruled on the Plaintiff’s Motion analyzed all applicable factors and found that the Plaintiff made a prima facie case that the move was in good faith and would not be inimical to the children. The Defendant did not provide the court with any proof that the move was not requested in good faith or that it would be harmful to the children. Therefore, the court affirmed the decision of the Family Division. Disputes regarding child relocation can be of the most important in family law because of the substantial impact that decisions regarding these issues will have upon the lives of the parties and their children. If you are involved in a child relocation dispute it is imperative that you seek out the advice of an experienced attorney before proceeding. For more information on child relocation, custody and visitation, parenting time, divorce, or other family law matters in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes and is in no way intended to replace the advice of an attorney.