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Can You Move If You Have Joint Custody in New Jersey?

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Can You Move If You Have Joint Custody in New Jersey?

March 27, 2024

Can You Move If You Have Joint Custody in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, joint custody agreements require both parents to play active roles in their children’s lives. When circumstances necessitate a move—be it for better employment opportunities, remarriage, or other personal reasons—it’s essential to navigate the process legally and thoughtfully, especially when the move crosses state lines or significantly impacts the current custody arrangement.

Understanding Joint Custody in New Jersey

What is Joint Custody?

In New Jersey, joint custody is divided into two main categories:

  • Joint Legal Custody: Both parents retain equal rights to make decisions concerning their child’s welfare, including education, health care, and religious upbringing.
  • Joint Physical Custody: The child alternates living with each parent according to a schedule that can range from alternating weeks to months, heavily based on what the court decides is in the child’s best interests.

Relocation Challenges

Relocation can significantly complicate these arrangements. New Jersey law mandates that any move must prioritize the child’s best interests alongside those of the relocating parent. It is important to note that moves within the state that do not disrupt the existing parenting plan generally do not require permission from the other parent. However, if the move affects the current parenting plan, typically incorporated into the divorce judgment, you are legally bound to adhere to its terms. Always consult with an experienced family law attorney before making a move to understand your legal obligations fully.

Legal Framework for Relocation with Joint Custody

Statutory Requirements

The legal landscape in New Jersey has evolved in recent years. Previously, a parent wishing to relocate needed to demonstrate that the move would not adversely affect the child’s best interests or infringe on the parental rights of the other parent. Now, the relocating parent must provide substantial justification for the move, showing it is necessary enough to override the other parent’s custody rights and the potential negative impact on the child’s relationship with the other parent.

Key Steps for Legal Relocation

Review Your Custody Agreement

Your custody agreement is the starting point. Look for any stipulations concerning relocation, which might restrict moves to within a certain geographic area or require explicit permission from the court or the other parent.

Notify the Other Parent

New Jersey law mandates that the relocating parent provide the non-relocating parent with a formal notice of the intent to move. This notice should include the reasons for the move and the proposed new residence and must be provided well in advance to allow the other parent time to respond.

Obtain Consent or Court Approval

If the other parent agrees to the move, their consent should be documented in writing and filed with the court, along with a request to modify the existing custody agreement. If the other parent does not agree, you will need to petition the court for approval to relocate.

Court Evaluation

The court will closely examine the proposed relocation, considering factors such as:

  • Reasons for the Move: Better job opportunities, health reasons, or closer proximity to family.
  • Impact on the Child: How the move would affect the child’s lifestyle, education, and emotional well-being.
  • Parental Cooperation: The ability of parents to cooperate and communicate on matters related to the child, including any history of one parent denying parenting time outside of concerns related to abuse.
  • Child’s Preference: The preferences of the child, considering their age and maturity level.
  • Relationships and Stability: The child’s relationships with both parents, siblings, the community, and the stability of the home environment.
  • Safety and Welfare: Any history of domestic violence or other safety concerns that could affect the child’s physical and emotional welfare.
  • Parental Fitness and Logistics: Each parent’s ability to care for the child and the logistical implications of the move.

Modification of Custody Orders

If the court approves the relocation, it will also adjust the custody agreement to ensure that the child maintains a strong relationship with both parents. This might include longer visitation periods during school breaks or holidays.

Contact Our Family Law Attorneys Today To Discuss Your Child Custody Case

At Rudnick, Addonizio, Pappa & Casazza PC, our experienced family law attorneys understand the nuances of state custody laws and can guide you through the complexities of custody agreement modifications related to relocation. We ensure that your actions align with legal requirements to protect your rights and the best interests of your children.

Facing the prospect of relocating with your child while navigating joint custody? Contact Rudnick, Addonizio, Pappa & Casazza PC today. Our family law attorneys specialize in providing clear, effective guidance through such complex situations. Whether you’re seeking to modify an existing custody agreement or need expert advice on how to proceed with a planned relocation, our team is here to assist. We handle every aspect of your case with the utmost care, aiming to minimize stress and maximize positive outcomes for both you and your children.

Do not navigate these waters alone. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help you manage.

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