Dever v. Howell: Relocation Out of New Jersey

Case of Dever v. Howell

If you wish to relocate with your children out of New Jersey, you must follow proper protocol Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 9:2-2, which dictates that a child cannot be removed from the State of New Jersey unless agreed upon by the parties or permitted by Court Order. However, as recently demonstrated in the case of Dever v. Howell, consent or permission from either or both parents to relocate does not provide the moving party with consent or permission to relocate anywhere.

In this matter, the parties had two children together. Mr. Dever was the parent of primary residence. In May 2015, the parties entered into a limited Consent Order, permitting Mr. Dever to relocate with the children to Florida. However, Mr. Dever never relocated to Florida. Instead, in April 2016, with only one day’s notice, he advised Ms. Howell that he was relocating with the children to South Carolina. Ms. Howell objected to the move, but Mr. Dever moved anyway.

The trial court determined that the children could stay in South Carolina, pending further order of the Court. However, the trial court failed to do a best interest analysis or otherwise determine whether Mr. Dever had appropriate “cause” to relocate with the children. The judge made no findings of fact or conclusions of law.

Official Findings and Conclusions in Dever v. Howell

In September 2016, Ms. Howell filed an Order to Show Cause in order to require Mr. Dever to return the children and award her sole custody. Following Ms. Howell’s application, the trial court conducted a five-day trial from February through May 2017. The Court made numerous findings of fact and conclusions of law regarding the unlawful removal of the children.

The court found that Mr. Dever violated N.J.S.A. 9:2-2 and made this move knowing that it was illegal. The court issued an order requiring Mr. Dever to return the children to New Jersey within 10 days. Mr. Dever then appealed. The Appellate Division held that because Ms. Howell objected to Mr. Dever’s move, he was required to obtain an order permitting the removal of the children before actually removing them. Accordingly, the Appellate Division affirmed the trial court’s decision, confirming that if one party seeks to relocate with the children, the party must seek the court’s permission prior to doing so.

Child Custody Lawyers Serving Livingston, Hackensack, & Westfield

At Ziegler, Zemsky & Resnick, we provide representation for parents seeking to resolve complex matters of child custody, child support, and time-sharing. We understand the laws and regulations that affect parents’ ability to relocate and make other important life decisions while sharing parental rights with former spouses, and we may be able to help you resolve your conflict. Connect with a member of our team today to get started.

Call (973) 878-4373 today to speak to a New Jersey child custody lawyer, or email usto schedule a consultation.

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