New Jersey statutes prohibit a separated or divorced parent from moving the children to another state (or country). There is no specific prohibition, however, from a parent moving with the children anywhere within the state. Thus, a person can not take the children from Lambertville, NJ across the river to New Hope, Penna. But, the same parent could take the children from Bergen County to Cape May. This issue has long been the subject of debate amongst divorce attorneys and Judges, and generally considered to be somewhat outdated and in need of revision.
Several years ago, Passaic, Family Court Judge Michael A. Diamond, wrote an extensive opinion prohibiting an in state move which would frustrate the other parents visitation of parenting rights. The opinion was well reasoned and generally accepted among practitioners, but was never published, and, therefore, had little precedential value. Last year Judge Fall writing for the Appellate Division in the case of Schulze v. Morris seemed to accept Judge Diamond’s reasoning and opened the door for challenges to in state moves.
However, in a recent Middlesex County decision, Judge David A. Rosenberg, seemingly did not accept either Judge Diamond or Judge Fall’s reasoning and permitted a divorced mother to move the children form Middlesex to Sussex County. The father who had to remain in Middlesex County argued that the drive time made visitation difficult if not impossible, that the school system in Middlesex was better and that the 11-year-old child wanted to remain in Middlesex County. Judge Rosenberg, nonetheless, permitted the mother to move to Sussex County with the child finding that the child was not, in his opinion, old enough to voice an opinion and that the drive was “manageable”.