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Moving Out of State with Children

If one ex-spouse exercises parenting time with his/her kids, can the custodial parent move with them to another State? Under what circumstances?

Heidi Ann Lepp’s Answer:

If the non-custodial parent wants to move out of the State of New Jersey, nothing prevents the move. However, if the custodial parent wishes to relocate outside of the State of New Jersey with the children, he/she must either obtain the consent of the other parent or a Court Order permitting the move unless the child is deemed old enough (not defined by statute) and consents. If consent of the other parent is not given and the child is not of suitable age, the custodial parent must file an application with the Court. The parent must show a good faith reason for the move and must provide a reasonable plan for continuation of parenting time between the non-custodial parent and the children. This plan should include a schedule, a detail of travel options, as well as a proposal for the cost sharing associated with this travel. When deciding whether or not to permit the relocation, the standard that the Court must apply varies depending on the custodial arrangements between the parties. In reaching its decision, the Court will weigh a number of factors including, but not limited to:

  • The reasons the custodial parent wants to move;
  • The reasons the non-custodial parent wants the child to stay in New Jersey;
  • The past history of court and personal dealings between the parents;
  • The educational, health, and recreational resources available to the child in each state;
  • The resources to address any special needs or talents of the child in each state;
  • Whether a visitation and communication schedule can be developed that will allow the
    non-custodial parent to maintain a full and continuous relationship with the child;
  • The likelihood that the custodial parent will continue to foster the child’s relationship
    with the non-custodial parent;
  • The effect of the move on extended family relationships here and in the new location;
  • The preference of the child, if the child is a teenager;
  • Whether the child is entering his or her senior year in high school;
  • Whether the non-custodial parent has the ability to relocate; and
  • Any other factor bearing on the child’s interest.
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