Most jurisdictions have promulgated lengthy lists of factors to be utilized in determining whether a custodial parent’s proposed relocation should be permitted. In general, there is a substantial overlap among the jurisdictions, with many states using substantially similar factor lists. The New Jersey Supreme Court has fashioned a typical example of one of these lists.
With those principles in mind, in assessing whether to order removal, the court should look to the following factors relevant to the plaintiff’s burden of proving good faith and that the move will not be inimical to the child’s interest:
Baures v. Lewis, 167 N.J. 91, 770 A.2d 214, 229-30 (2001). For other states’ factor lists, see, e.g., Hollandsworth v. Knyzewski, 353 Ark. 470, 109 S.W.3d 653 (2003); In re Marriage of LaMusga, 32 Cal. 4th 1072, 88 P.3d 81, 12 Cal. Rptr. 3d 356 (2004); McLaughlin v. McLaughlin, 264 Neb. 232, 647 N.W.2d 577 (2002); and Tropea v. Tropea, 87 N.Y.2d 727, 665 N.E.2d 145, 642 N.Y.S.2d 575 (1996).
Other jurisdictions have set forth the required factors to be considered in relocation cases by statute. One of the most comprehensive factor lists can be found at La. Rev. Stat. Ann. 9:355.12 (2004).
For other statutes containing relocation factors, see, e.g., Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. 722.31 (2004); Tenn. Code Ann. 36-6-108 (2004); Utah Code Ann. 30-3-37 (2004); and Wash. Rev. Code Ann. 26.09.520 (2004). Other factors that have also been utilized in relocation disputes include:
The sheer number of factors that must be considered in relocation cases demonstrates the fact-specific nature of all such determinations. However, despite the sometimes overly long lists of factors devised by the courts or the legislatures, in general these factors can be condensed into four primary categories:
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PRESUMPTION IN FAVOR OF RELOCATION -- In many states, such as Arkansas, the court favors allowing relocation of the custodial parent. A majority of states, including New York, decide relocation requests based on the best interest of the child. A few states, such as Connecticut, have a neutral approach, a middle ground approach. Both the custodial parent and the non-custodial parent have the burden of demonstrating why relocation should or should not be permitted.
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