You Cannot Relocate Without Permission
When you divorce or otherwise establish custodial rights, you will set a parenting plan laying out each parent’s rights and responsibilities. You may be designated as the parent of primary residence, but your co-parent has rights to parenting time as established in the parenting plan and ordered by the court. If you move out-of-state or even in-state but far away, you will have to obtain permission to bring your children along with you. Anything that would cause the parenting plan to be disrupted constitutes a modification of the parenting plan, which, as of your divorce, has the force of a court order behind it.
Your first option for moving with your kids is to obtain permission from your co-parent. If you are on reasonable terms with your co-parent, you may be able to negotiate a new parenting plan that accounts for the distance. You might work out additional trips or have the kids stay with the other parent during the summer and other school holidays. You can incorporate specific times for calls and video chats. Your co-parent might even be willing to move to the new location as well, depending on their circumstances.
Getting Permission from the Court to Relocate
If the non-custodial parent objects to your move, you will need to obtain permission from the court. In the past, the custodial parent needed only to show that the move would not be harmful to the child and that the decision to relocate was made in good faith. As of 2018, the standard for relocation is much stricter.
Following a New Jersey Supreme Court ruling and a desire to place custodial and noncustodial parents on a more equal footing, the test for relocation was modified. Now, parents seeking to relocate must prove that moving is in the “best interests” of the child. The “best interests” standard is much harder to meet, not the least because it takes into account the child’s relationship with their other parent and the general view that continued contact with both parents is almost always in the child’s best interests.
If you can offer the court an alternate plan that keeps regular contact between the child and your co-parent (calls, trips, new parenting time arrangements), you can strengthen your chances to secure the right to relocate. You will also need to take into account their schooling, religious upbringing, extracurricular activities, and other factors of the child’s life. Talk to experienced child custody and parental rights attorney about your planned move to discuss how to present your strongest case for relocation.
Advice and Representation for New Jersey Child Custody Matters
If you’re considering divorce in New Jersey or dealing with child support, child custody, property division, or other family law issues, contact the Englewood family law attorneys Herbert & Weiss at (201) 500-2151.