A number of tricky legal questions can come up when a couple with kids decides to divorce. These include how to handle a situation in which the parents split custody and one decides that he or she wants to move out of state. New Jersey’s Superior Court recently gave us a quick glimpse at how judges are expected to handle these cases.
Husband and Wife separated in August 2013, following an eight-year marriage. They eventually entered into a marital settlement agreement, under which the parents shared joint legal custody and Wife was granted primary physical custody over the couple’s twin girls. Husband, meanwhile, got a “liberal” visitation arrangement in which his daughters stayed with him every other weekend, two or three weeknights per month, and on rotating holidays. The former spouses also agreed that they would try to live within a 15-minute drive from each other, that neither spouse would move more than 20 miles away from the other, and that neither spouse would move out of state without the other’s prior written consent.
Wife started a relationship with a man living in Utah shortly after Husband and she separated. She quit her job after the divorce, telling Husband that she intended to be a stay at home parent. Six months later, she told Husband that she intended to get remarried and move to Utah with the kids. Although Husband denied permission, a trial court granted Wife’s motion to relocate without holding a hearing on the matter. Instead, the court ordered the former spouses to come up with a new visitation schedule. When Husband refused to participate, the court granted a schedule based largely on Wife’s suggestions. Wife then permanently moved to Utah with the kids.