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Can I Move Out of State with My Kids After a Divorce?
Did you know that you can’t move out of the state of New Jersey with your child unless you have the consent of the other parent or permission of the court?
It’s true—while you could, in theory, move from Gloucester County to Cape May County with your child without a court order, you couldn’t move to Philadelphia without the other parent’s permission, despite it being closer in distance to his or her present residence.
That’s not to say that moving within the state doesn’t have its own implications. However, you don’t need court permission or consent to move.
If you’re facing a move out of state, or your ex wants to move out of state with your child, Smedley Law Group provides the guidance and legal support you need during this period of uncertainty. Here are the basics of what you need to know if you find yourself in this situation.
Can I Move My Kids Out of State?
There’s no easy “yes” or “no” answer to this question. Ultimately, it depends on your individual situation and circumstances.
Even if you have physical custody of your child, your move is contingent on whether or not the move is in the child’s best interest. The move may be better or easier for you, as the parent.
However, the court wants only what’s best for the child. If such a move could hinder the relationship between your child and their other parent, then it’ll be tough to get the court to approve it.
New Jersey Courts Look for Certain Conditions to Approve a Move
In New Jersey, if a child is born in the state or has lived there for at least five years, then a divorced parent can’t move them out of the state without one of two things. There must be permission from the other parent to move or permission from the court.
In the past, you may have heard of cases where a move was completed easily without any problems from the court. Prior to 2017, the legal standard in New Jersey was that whatever was best for the parent was probably best for the child. However, that all changed with the Bisbing v. Bisbing case of 2017.
In this situation, a mother planned to leave New Jersey and relocate to Utah with her new husband. Her ex objected to the children being moved and went to court. While the lower court found in favor of the mother, an appeal to the New Jersey Supreme Court set a new standard for determining if such a move should be allowed.
How the Bisbing Case Changed Child Relocation Criteria in New Jersey
The Bisbing v. Bisbing case made the court codify what would become the standard for all custody cases in the state—what’s in the best interest of the child. No longer would it be assumed that what was best for the parent was also best for the child.
Because of this, a parent couldn’t simply say that their move to another state was necessary. They had to prove that it would best serve the child.
NJ Courts’ Considerations to Determine the Child’s Best Interest
This new legal standard is in place for all child custody cases in which the parents have joint legal custody. It doesn’t matter if one is the Parent of Primary Residence or if they have a 50/50 split of shared physical custody.
Instead, the court will apply the following test to determine what’s in the child’s best interest:
- the parents’ ability to agree, communicate, and cooperate in matters relating to the child;
- the parents’ willingness to accept custody, and any history of unwillingness to allow parenting time that isn’t based on substantiated abuse;
- the interaction and relationship of the child with his/her parents and siblings;
- any history of domestic violence;
- the safety of the child and the safety of either parent from physical abuse by the other parent;
- the child’s preference, when the child has the capacity to make an intelligent decision;
- the child’s needs;
- the stability of the home environment offered by the parents;
- the quality and continuity of the child’s education;
- the parents’ fitness to exercise custody;
- the geographical proximity of the parents’ homes;
- the extent and quality of the time spent with the child before or after the separation;
- the parents’ employment responsibilities; and
- the age and number of the children. (N.J.S.A. 9:2-4)
While all of these criteria are articulated, NJ judges can also use their discretion to look at any other factors they deem pertinent that may arise from a special case.
An Experienced NJ Family Law Attorney Can Help Your Case
Ultimately, if you already have a parenting plan in place and you want to move out of state, you can’t do this without altering the parenting plan. That means either your ex must mutually agree to this change, or you’ll go back to court where the judge determines how it should be adjusted.
If you do simply pack and move, you could find yourself in legal trouble for custodial interference because you are legally bound by the terms of your divorce. That’s why it’s so important to not leave this up to a “verbal agreement” between parties. You need an experienced family attorney who’ll support your case and provide you with the legal knowledge to maneuver this tricky situation.
Contact the Experienced Family Law Attorneys at Smedley Law Group in Woodbury, NJ Today
If you’ve gone through a divorce and have kids, you’ll also most likely be dealing with another matter like child custody, child support, division of assets, or relocation, so you’ll need to speak with a qualified attorney. The New Jersey family law attorneys at Smedley Law Group represent clients throughout the state, including West Deptford, Woodbury Heights, Runnemede, and Westville. We understand how challenging this time can be for you, which is why we will fight hard to protect your interests, and the interests of your loved ones, throughout the legal process. Call us at (856) 251-0800 or fill out our confidential contact form to schedule a consultation. We have an office conveniently located at 750 Cooper Street, Woodbury, NJ 08096.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.