Moving with a Child Out of State
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There’s no question about it; child custody issues complicate NJ divorce proceedings making this already emotional time even more difficult for all involved. Whether a judge grants shared custody between the parents or primary custody to one parent or the other, it’s not uncommon that one spouse may want to move out of state to be closer to family, to a new, more lucrative job opportunity, or other important reasons.
However, if you are in a situation where your ex-spouse is trying to take your children out of state, or you want to move out of state with your children, be aware that there are specific laws governing a parent’s ability to remove children from a locale where the other parent can conveniently see and spend time with them. Talk to South Jersey child custody lawyer Ron Graziano, managing partner of Graziano & Flynn, P.C. about your case. Mr. Graziano was a certified trial attorney for over 25 years, and he will work tirelessly to make sure your custody rights are protected.
Divorced and Want to Move Out of State with Your Children? Not so Fast
When two people divorce in New Jersey, the Property Settlement Agreement (PSA) (a.k.a. Marital Settlement Agreement MSA) – which distributes assets and debts – is negotiated and signed in to law. If the couple has children, custody issues are also decided at this time. There is nothing preventing one parent from moving out of state for any reason – family, education, job, etc. However, unless a judge decides otherwise, the children must continue to reside in the state where the divorce was filed.
If one parent does want to move out of state, he or she must petition the court for permission. If you are seeking to move out of state with your child(ren), or feel your ex-spouse is looking to take your children and move out of state, you need a knowledgeable NJ divorce and child custody lawyer like Ron Graziano who will fight for your rights and the rights of your minor children.
Since most New Jersey custody arrangements call for specific visiting times, the court recognizes that a decision to move a child out of state may prevent that visitation schedule from being met. This usually means the non-custodial parent will have little time with the child(ren) – a move that breaks the court’s custodial order. The Court has the power to deal with this issue by requiring contribution by the moving spouse to travel expenses, by increasing blocks of parenting time or by requiring the moving spouse to assist in transporting the children. Keep in mind there is a legally significant difference between moving the children during the divorce process and a move after the divorce.
Steps to Take If You Want to Move Out of State with Your Kids after Divorce When the Non-Custodial Parent Agrees to the Move
First things first: If you want to move with your children out of state, sometimes it is best to talk with your ex-spouse to attempt to obtain permission. If you are moving to a neighboring state for work, for example, the hardship of driving a short distance to allow ample visitation might not be an issue. If the non-custodial parent agrees to the move, get the approval in writing and have it notarized. You should still have an attorney review the agreement to ensure that it deals with all of the issues.
When the Non-Custodial Parent Seeks to Block the Move
If the non-custodial parent refuses to agree to the move, the parent who wants to move must appear in court and present his or her reasons for the move to a New Jersey Family Court judge, who must subsequently issue a court order before the move takes place. He or she must present a workable visitation and communication schedule for the child and non-custodial parent being left behind.
A judge will only agree to the move when and if the custodial parent can offer a “good faith” reason for the move – such as a job or supportive family and friends in the new location. A judge can and will consider specific areas of interest that he or she feels may have bearing on the case. Some of these include:
- Why does the custodial parent want to move?
- Why does the non-custodial parent refuse to consent to the move?
- What is the history of the couple – is there violence involved?
- Is there a possibility that the child(ren) may have access to significantly better schooling or medical care (or the opposite)?
- Is there a real possibility that an agreed-upon visitation schedule will be adhered to by both parents (including whether or not the judge feels it is the intention of the custodial parent to sever communication with his or her ex-spouse)
- The existence and location of supportive family for the child(ren)
- If the child is old enough, the judge can consider the child’s preferences
Divorce and child custody issues in the State of New Jersey are difficult enough without the issue of trying to move out of state. If you are the custodial parent, you likely have a very good reason to move – namely a new, well paying job or family you would like to be closer to now that you are single. On the other hand, having your children taken away and move to a state that makes contact extremely difficult is a hardship no parent should have to bear.