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Relocating With Children

Concerned loving mother talking to her young daughter about divorce and child custody while sitting on the sofa

Circumstances in life change all the time, but some changes, such as a new job opportunity or an elderly parent in need of care, might require relocating to a new city or state. For parents raising children under a custodial arrangement, making a move is not so simple, especially if you plan on taking the kids with you to your new location. Read on for a brief overview of the rules for relocating with children in New Jersey, and contact the Law Offices of John B. D’Alessandro in Union if you or your ex are considering such a move outside of Union, Middlesex, or Essex counties.

When life circumstances change, such as a job opportunity or a new marriage, it may necessitate relocating to a different location. For parents, especially those with custodial arrangements, relocating with children is not a straightforward process. If you’re a New Jersey parent considering a move, it’s important to understand the legal requirements and how they might impact your custodial arrangement.

Two Options for Parental Relocation: Parental Consent or Court Approval

In New Jersey, the parent who has physical custody of the child needs either the consent of the other parent or court approval to relocate with the child out of state. If both parents share physical custody, a court order is generally necessary unless there is mutual consent. The primary concern is to ensure that the child’s best interests are preserved.

Steps to Obtain Consent

  1. Written Notification: The relocating parent should notify the other parent in writing well in advance of the planned move.
  2. Legal Agreement: If the other parent consents, a formal agreement should be drafted outlining the new custodial arrangement and visitation schedule.
  3. Court Approval: After mutual consent, the agreement should be submitted to the court for approval.

When Consent is Not Granted

If the other parent doesn’t consent to the move, the relocating parent will need to petition the court for permission. A court hearing will be scheduled, where both parties can present their arguments. When determining whether to grant permission for relocation, New Jersey courts focus on the child’s best interests. The judge will consider several factors, such as:

  • The child’s relationship with each parent
  • The child’s age, needs, and the impact of the move on the child’s education and social life
  • Potential benefits of the move for the child (e.g., better educational opportunities, closer proximity to extended family, safer neighborhood)
  • The feasibility of maintaining a meaningful relationship between the child and the non-relocating parent

The parents, through their attorneys, will need to focus their arguments on factors like these, showing why the move is or is not in the child’s best interests, and not just why the parent is needing or choosing to move.

Modifying the Custody Arrangement

If the court approves the move, the custody arrangement will likely need to be modified to accommodate the new circumstances. Modifications might involve altering visitation schedules or implementing virtual visitation methods like video calls.

When Is Consent Not Required?

New Jersey statutes, specifically NJSA 9:2-2, require parental consent or court approval before a parent can take the children outside of the court’s jurisdiction whenever the children are New Jersey natives or have resided in the state for five years. If the above criteria don’t apply, then parental consent is not legally required.

This statute is generally interpreted to apply to moves outside of the state, although if the parent is moving the child in-state so far away that it renders the current custody arrangement unworkable, they should work with the other parent and the courts to avoid further disputes and litigation.

Contact the Law Offices of John B. D’Alessandro for Help With Parental Relocation Matters in Union, Middlesex, and Essex Counties

It’s crucial to consult with an experienced family law attorney before making any plans to relocate. Your lawyer can guide you through the legal process, ensuring that you comply with New Jersey’s stringent requirements. An attorney can also modify or review your custody agreement and represent you in court, if necessary, and help you prepare a strong case for relocation. For help with relocation issues or other divorce, custody, or family law matters in Union, Middlesex, or Essex counties, call the Law Offices of John B. D’Alessandro at 908-964-0102 to share your concerns with our experienced New Jersey family law attorney.

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