Moving Away & Out-of-State with Your Child After Divorcing

It is not common for a divorce case in New Jersey or any other state to conclude with one parent losing all rights to see their child. Even if sole physical and legal child custody rights are granted to one parent, the other typically receives visitation rights, such as being allowed to see their child once a month. Due to the prevalence of joint custody and visitation agreements, it is often quite difficult for a parent to move far away, or right out of the state, after a divorce.

Getting a Move-Away Order Approved

Disrupting a pre-established child custody order or visitation agreement can negatively impact the wellbeing of your child, as it might strip away a sense of stability or security. New Jersey family law courts know as much, and therefore need to be convinced that your relocation is absolutely necessary. You cannot simply decide you want to move, file the petition, and expect a good outcome.

When deciding on a move-away order, the court will consider:

  • Distance: Moving a few miles away or across the county is generally not a big deal that requires the court’s approval, even if the noncustodial parent doesn’t have an automobile of their own. Move-away requests can be challenged by noncustodial parents if the distance is great – 100 miles is often used a benchmark for when the move is “too far to be reasonable” – or if the proposed move involves living in a different state than before, no matter the total distance.
  • Reasons: The reason for wanting to relocate needs to be convincing to the court. Good reasons to move include pursuing gainful employment, remarrying, or to improve your health, such as moving out of the city if pollution irritates your asthma. Be sure to also tell the court if you have reason to believe that living close to your ex-spouse puts you or your child at risk of suffering domestic violence.
  • Accommodations: A noncustodial parent with visitation rights can challenge a move-away order if they cannot easily relocate along with the custodial parent to maintain contact with their child. Before filing a petition to relocate, it can help to try to work with your ex-spouse to find ways to accommodate them for the proposed change in distance. You may change your child custody order to give them physical custody rights during a portion of the year, for example.
  • Overall impact: What will the relocation do to your child’s wellbeing and happiness? If a court thinks that the move will be bad for your child’s development, no matter how necessary it might actually be, it could be denied. Do what the court does and first always ask if your petition or decision will negatively impact your child’s best interests.

Draft Your Relocation Petition with Our Help

Our Bergen County divorce attorneys at Moskowitz Law Group, LLC can help you decide if a relocation is worth it or not. If it is necessary and will not upset your child’s wellbeing, we can get to work on creating a petition that convinces the court to agree with your request. We might even be able to avoid courtroom conflict altogether by first discussing matters with your ex-spouse or their legal counsel.

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