Never considered dormant, the thorny issue of custodial parent’s right to move from New Jersey has awoken from its slumber.

In basic terms, the issue involves the tension between a custodial parent’s need or desire to relocate and the other parent’s right to maintain a meaningful relationship with his or her children. Before discussing what may be a major shift in the legal paradigm, the starting point is Justice Long’s seminal decision in Baures v. Lewis, 167 N.J. 91 (2001), which established the current ground rules for attorneys and judges in removal cases. Baures was not without precedent, as evidenced by such cases as Cooper v. Cooper, 99 N.J. 42 (1984), and Holder v. Polanski, 111 N.J. 344 (1988), which had expanded the rights of a potentially relocating parent and which reached its apex in Baures. Speaking for the court, Justice Long confronted the inherently difficult nature of relocation cases by acknowledging that “[i]f the removal is denied, the custodial parent may be embittered by the assault on his or her autonomy. If it is granted, the noncustodial parent may live with the abiding belief that his or her connection to the child has been lost forever.”

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