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Navigating Relocation With Your Child During a Divorce in New Jersey

Thinking about relocating with your child during a divorce? New Jersey has specific laws to ensure the child’s best interests are prioritized. Learn the essential steps and legal requirements to navigate this complex process smoothly and protect your family’s future.

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Relocating with your child to another state during a divorce or family law matter can be complex and emotionally charged. New Jersey has specific laws and procedures to address these situations, ensuring the child’s best interests are always the top priority. Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering a move and have a co-parent.

Understanding the Legal Requirements

In New Jersey, if you share custody of your child, you can’t relocate to another state without either the other parent’s consent or a court order. This rule applies even if you have primary physical custody. The intent is to prevent one parent from unilaterally making decisions that could significantly impact the child’s relationship with the other parent.

Steps to Take If You’re Considering Relocation

You should always get legal help as early in the process as possible. Consulting a lawyer doesn’t obligate you to take any action. However, a lawyer’s advice can help you understand your legal rights so you can consider all of your options.

Here are the general steps you’ll follow:

1. Discuss your situation with the other parent. The first step is to communicate with your co-parent. If you both agree on the move, you can draft a consent agreement outlining the new custody and visitation arrangements.

2. File a relocation petition. If your child’s other parent doesn’t consent, you must file a petition with the court. The court will schedule a hearing to evaluate whether the move is in the child’s best interests.

3. Prepare for a court hearing. You’ll need to present a compelling case demonstrating why the move is beneficial for the child. This can include better educational opportunities, closer proximity to family support, or improved living conditions.

Although every case is unique, Smedley Law Group’s attorneys have the experience to help you understand the potential outcome in your specific scenario. That understanding can help you make smart, informed decisions that are more likely to result in the best outcome for your family, especially if you’re required to make a court appearance.

Factors the Court Considers About Relocation

New Jersey courts evaluate several factors to determine if relocation serves the child’s best interests, including:

1. The reasons for the move: The parent seeking relocation must show legitimate and good-faith reasons for the move.

2. Impact on the child: How will the move affect the child’s educational, emotional, and social development?

3. The child’s relationship with both parents: The court considers how the move will affect the child’s relationship with the non-relocating parent (and siblings) and whether it can be maintained through regular visitation and communication.

4. The feasibility of new custody arrangements: The court will assess whether new visitation schedules are practical and how they’ll be implemented. The court also looks at the extent and quality of the time spent with the child prior to or subsequent to the separation.

5. Your child’s preferences: Depending on the child’s age and maturity, their preferences may be considered.

6. The fitness of the parents: The court will review if there’s any history of domestic violence, or if there’s a concern around safety of the child or either parent from physical abuse by the other parent.

Potential Outcomes for Your Relocation Situation

If the court approves the relocation, it’ll modify the existing custody order to accommodate the move. This may involve changing visitation schedules, such as longer visits during school breaks or holidays. If the court denies the request, you must stay in New Jersey with your child unless you decide to relocate without them, which could impact your custody rights.

Practical Tips for Moving

Relocating with your child during a divorce or other family law matter in New Jersey involves navigating a maze of legal requirements and emotional considerations. By understanding the legal process and preparing thoroughly, you can present a strong case to the court, ensuring that your child’s well-being remains the primary focus, including taking these steps:

Document everything: Keep detailed records of your communications with the other parent and any steps you take to prepare for the move.

Seek legal counsel: Relocation cases can be legally complex. Having an experienced family law attorney on your side early in the process can significantly impact your case’s outcome.

Focus on your child’s needs: Always center your arguments around the child’s best interests rather than personal preferences or conveniences.

Our Experienced Woodbury Relocation Attorneys Can Help You Resolve Your Child Relocation Matter

Even if you’ve reached an agreement and one parent will relocate with the child, that’s far from the end of the story. The non-custodial parent continues to have parenting rights.  

The next step in the process is to determine how and when the non-custodial parent will spend time with the child. That includes not only scheduling and logistics, but also determining who’ll be responsible for the cost of traveling between the two parents’ homes. Dividing time on holidays is another contentious issue that arises when the parents live far apart.

We always advise that you discuss these and other issues that may arise in advance—before conflict ignites down the road. Getting experienced legal advice from Smedley Law Group gives you the opportunity to reach a comprehensive plan so your children have the stability they need after a move.

Call Today to Schedule a Consultation With a Child Relocation Lawyer in Woodbury, NJ Who Can Help

At Smedley Law Group, P.C., we treat our clients like the unique individuals that they are. We know that life’s complexities can be difficult to handle—and that’s where we can help. Our family law attorneys will listen to your story and help you understand your legal rights.

Doing what’s right for a child doesn’t always look the same. We’re here to put our experience and dedication to work for you. If you’re considering relocating out of state with your child, or are in a situation where such a relocation may be forced on you, don’t wait to get legal help—set up a consultation with an experienced Woodbury, NJ relocation attorney as soon as the issue arises. We can go to work protecting your rights today.

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