Can I Move my Child out of New Jersey after a Divorce?
In child custody cases, parent relocation is a complicated issue. If a parent with physical custody of a child wants to move the child out of New Jersey, the other parent must consent to the move via an official consent order signed by a judge. If the non-custodial parent objects to the move and will not consent, the parent who seeks to relocate must go to court for permission to permanently remove the child from the jurisdiction of the state of New Jersey. The key deciding factors the court will look at in these cases are whether this move will benefit or harm the child, as well as the reasons for the proposed relocation.
For example, if a mother wants to move her child to a different state because of a job opportunity that will allow her to provide more for her child, and the non-custodial parent can offer no legitimate arguments against it, the court will likely allow it.
What are the Major Factors in Parent Relocation?
NJ case law established twelve questions that must be considered in a relocation case:
- What are the custodial parent’s reasons for the move?
- Why does the non-custodial parent oppose the move?
- Is the personal history of the parents a factor in their decision to support or oppose the move?
- Will the child have health care, education, and recreation greater or equal to what they have in New Jersey?
- If the child has special needs, will the accommodations in the new state be greater or equal to what they have in New Jersey?
- Will the parents be able to create a parenting schedule that will allow the non-custodial parent to continue a full relationship with the child?
- Will the custodial parent encourage the relationship between the child and the non-custodial parent after the move?
- Will the move affect the child’s relationship with their extended families?
- What is the child’s preference? (Assuming they are of an appropriate age and maturity level)
- Is the child approaching their senior year in high school? If so, the move will usually not be permitted until after they graduate.
- Is the non-custodial parent able to move?
- Are there any other factors of the move that may affect the child’s best interest?
The court will carefully consider the motives for the move, the non-custodial parent’s objections, and the effect the move will have on the child’s life, and come to a decision that will promote the child’s best interests. It is important to note that parents can continue to share joint legal custody of a child even when they do not live near each other, meaning they can still have an equal say in major decisions about the child.