Can I relocate my child to another state if I have sole custody?

On Behalf of | Feb 26, 2024 | Child Custody |

After divorce, it is not unusual for people to make some significant changes, from accepting a new job to wanting a change of scenery. Under these circumstances, moving to a new state could be part of this new chapter.

However, if you have a child with your former spouse and you are the primary custodial parent, you should know the rules for relocating with your child before committing to a move.

The laws then and now

For more than a decade, New Jersey courts allowed the parent with sole custody to relocate out-of-state with the child even if the non-custodial parent does not consent to it under specific circumstances.

However, the New Jersey Supreme Court has since changed the relocation standard. Allowing a custodial parent to move out of state is possible only if it is in the child’s best interest. There are several questions the courts can ask before deciding on a relocation request:

  • What is the reason for the move?
  • Do the parents communicate and cooperate well?
  • Are there stepsiblings or others who currently have relationships with the child?
  • Is the child at risk of any abuse?
  • How stable is the child’s current and potential environment?
  • Are one or both parents working?
  • Does the child have a well-reasoned preference?
  • What is the existing relationship between the child and each parent?
  • How far away do the parents live now, and how far apart would a relocation take a parent?

These and other relevant factors will help the courts determine whether relocating is in a child’s best interests and supports their well-being. If it is, the courts can grant a parent permission to move away. If the move would do more harm than good for a child, they can deny the request.

Navigating relocation claims effectively

Making a big move like relocating to another state can dramatically impact your child’s daily life and relationship with their other parent. Thus, this is not a decision or request to make lightly or without the help of an experienced attorney.

Before committing to any type of move, review your parenting plan and secure the proper permissions. These steps can ensure you protect your child’s well-being and the parental rights involved.



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