Hackensack Child Relocation Lawyer
What Happens When a Parent Wants to Move? Learn Your Rights from a Child Custody Relocation Lawyer
Parents can experience changes in circumstances that cause them to want (or need) to relocate. In most cases, it is a job, a relationship or a family situation that prompts the move. Whether relocation happens during a pending divorce or following divorce, issues of child custody can be complex and difficult to resolve.
If you or your child’s other parent is seeking to permanently move, a Hackensack child relocation lawyer at Men’s & Fathers’ Rights Divorce Lawyers by Schultz & Associates, LLC will work to ensure that your legal rights and the interests of your child are protected. Do not wait to get knowledgeable legal advice when you have concerns about relocation. A relocation can impact the bond you have with your children for years to come. Call our law firm at (201) 880-9770 to arrange a case evaluation.
How a Relocation Can Affect Your Impending Divorce
It is understandable when a marriage or relationship is over and breaking up to want to get away and start over. But if you leave the state or move far from your current neighborhood during an impending divorce, it could affect your future with your children. Decisions about child custody may not go in your favor if you move out of the area. The courts may determine that the children’s need for stability during a life-changing divorce means they should stay with the New Jersey parent and award your spouse primary custody. They may even see your move as a way of shirking responsibility for your children. If you move out of state, your parenting time could be limited to school vacations and holidays, depending on the distances and other logistics involved.
What happens if your spouse moves away with the children to another state before divorce? How will their relocation affect your ability to gain custody or visitation rights? The first question to ask is whether the other parent moved away with the children with or without your express consent? If it was with your consent, then it will need to be determined which state has jurisdiction over divorce and child custody decisions. That is because if six (6) months or more have passed since the children have been living somewhere other than New Jersey, you must discuss which State is the home state jurisdiction of the children should you need to go to Court. Therefore, if you know the other parent is seriously considering moving, or has moved, with the children and you do not agree, first you must tell the other parents (send an email) that you do not agree. Then, you must immediately speak with a qualified attorney to establish your rights and to request that the children be brought back home. Timing is critical in these situations and if you wait too long to say or do something about the situation, that could be perceived as you agreeing to the new status quo and that your children should live in the new location. Don’t be stuck with a situation that you never wanted just because you didn’t take action quick enough to potentially fix the scenario.
Understanding New Jersey Child Relocation Laws
N.J.S.A. 9:2-2 says that children cannot be [permanently] removed to another state without the [express] permission of the other parent or by way of a Court Order. The law applies to minor children who are natives of New Jersey or who have lived in the state for at least six (6) months.
All custody determinations, including relocation cases (because in essence, relocation is a transfer of custody to one parent), the courts make their decisions based on the best interests of the children. They will consider things such as why the moving parent wants to relocate and whether there is a good faith reason to permanently remove the children to another state. A custodial parent can’t relocate with a child simply because they want to “punish” the other parent by not allowing them contact with the child. Also, what is very important is what impact the move will have on the relationship and visitation between the parent staying behind and the children.
Judges will consider the following “best interest” factors from child custody statute N.J.S.A 9:2-4:
- The parents’ ability to agree, communicate and cooperate in issues relating to children
- Each parent’s willingness to accept custody
- The stability of home environments
- Issues around schooling such as quality and consistency of education
- Any unwillingness by a parent not to allow parenting time
- The child’s relationship with each parent
- Whether domestic violence has been a factor in the marriage
- Safety and well-being of the children with each parent
- Parents’ employment hours and responsibilities
- The child’s wishes depending upon their age and emotional maturity
- Any other factor judges decide is important to making the decision.
In short, while a parent may wish to relocate to another state for their own reasons, such as a much better job, to get away from memories of a marriage that failed or because of a new relationship, the law will consider the children’s interests first and foremost over a parent’s interests.
How Relocation Affects Child Custody Agreements
If you and the other parent already have a custody and visitation agreement in place and one parent now wants to relocate with the children to another state, that parent must show a significant change in circumstances to request the move and must show how the move will be affirmatively in the child’s best interest. The requesting parent must also show how he/she is going to maintain the relationship between the children and the parent staying behind and ideally, offer a detailed revised visitation schedule. It is possible for the two parents to re-negotiate the visitation schedule and even child support obligations in an attempt to accommodate the parent that wants to move. The parent wanting to move cannot do so until and unless there is a signed agreement. If the parents cannot agree, then the issue should be taken up in Court and the Judge can ultimately make the decision on whether the move would be in the children’s best interest.
In some cases, the parent who is moving out of state may have been the custodial parent. Primary custody could be given to the parent remaining in state if the court determines that the upheaval of a move is not in the child’s best interests. The relocating parent who formerly had primary physical custody may now be limited to seeing the child less than they did before merely because of distance and other logistical reasons—or maybe it makes more sense for both parent and the children that a visitation schedule to be uneven and more over school vacations, other holidays, and summertime when the children are not in school and have less extracurricular actives to contend with. If the parents cannot agree then custody orders and parenting time arrangements will be modified based on the decision of the judge. Even if the relocating parent is not moving out of state, they could need court approval for the move. If they relocate far enough away in New Jersey from their current residence that it makes the existing parenting time agreement impractical, the agreements will probably require modification and approval of the court. This is called inter-state (within the state) relocation vs. intra-state (out of the state) relocation.
There are many intricacies in determining what is appropriate for children and in their best interests when it comes to the sensitive matter of relocation. No two scenarios are alike. They are all based on the unique facts of each family situation. In some cases, relocating parents may decide that the impacts on their life and those of their children outweigh the benefits of a move. Our Hackensack child relocation lawyer can counsel you about all the complexities involved and how a move, or your ex-spouse’s move, could potentially affect you and your children.
Why Should I Choose Your New Jersey Law Firm for My Case?
We know you have choices when it comes to lawyers. Our attorneys at Men’s & Fathers’ Rights Divorce Lawyers by Schultz & Associates, LLC, have years of experience successfully helping clients address complex family law matters, including child custody, visitation and support issues related to relocation.
Carrie S. Schultz, Esq. is certified as matrimonial law attorney by the Supreme Court of New Jersey, which is a special designation issued to a select few attorneys who meet the state’s highest qualifications in their practice areas. As your Hackensack child relocation lawyers, we will work hard to protect your parental rights and the interests of your children. Whether you are planning to relocate or your child’s other parent is talking about relocation, we can help you . . .
- Understand how New Jersey law applies to your specific situation
- Understand what your divorce decree or child custody order says about moving
- Work toward or contest the modification of a child custody order
- Evaluate your options before you accept an out-of-state job offer or transfer
- Address issues related to remarriage and relocation
- Negotiate with your child’s other parent regarding relocation.
Relocation cases can be very complicated, difficult, and a sensitive matter. You have one shot to do it right or object to it correctly Our desire is to help you get the outcome that you need for yourself and your children. Speak to one of our skillful attorneys by calling (201) 880-9770 to schedule a case evaluation.
Child Relocation Attorney in Hackensack Answers FAQs
Every case is unique when it comes to relocating with children before or after divorce. However, there are some questions that we commonly get from parents. We provide general answers to those questions here. To have your concerns addressed relative to your individual case, reach out to our Bergen County family law firm. Once we understand your circumstances, we will advise you about your legal options.
Are mothers given preference in child relocation agreement decisions?
It may feel to many men as if their ex-wives get preference in child custody and relocation matters, but the truth is that technically the law states that the court must consider the child’s best interests over those of either parent, regardless of the sex of the parent. Both mothers and fathers are supposed to start out on equal footing under the law. Once a judge evaluates all the facts involved, they make their determination based on what is best for the child. With that being said, we know realistically that societal perceptions can be slow to change, which can sometimes unfairly affect fathers. We believe fathers have the same right as mothers to enjoy strong bonds with their children and will fight for your right to do so. If you are facing such a situation, it is crucial to consult with a skilled child custody lawyer who can advocate for your rights and ensure a fair process.
What happens in relocation decisions if parents were never married?
Even if parents were never married, if paternity of the father was established and both parents share legal custody, the same best interests guidelines typically would apply in custody decisions related to relocation. If paternity was not established, either through a certificate of parentage or a DNA test, then the child’s mother can relocate and the father would have no legal right to stop the move until and unless paternity is established.
What happens with child support if a parent relocates?
Child support is definitely affected if one parent is allowed to move with the children out of state. Why? Because the move will inevitably somehow affect the visitation schedule. So, once it is determined whether a parent can move with the children, a conversation about establishing or modifying any current child support protocol will need to be had based on the new schedule. If a non-custodial parent moves out of state without the children, their child support may also need to be modified if they are seeing the children less.
In sum, both parents have a duty to financially support their children. If the parent who was the custodial parent moves out of New Jersey and primary physical custody is given by the court to the parent remaining in the state, the relocating parent may be ordered to pay child support—or, if the custodial parent takes the children out of state, then the parent remaining in NJ may get to pay less child support, depending. Issues of child support and modifications to child support orders due to a parent’s relocation can become quite complicated. When we learn all the details of your situation, our experienced child support lawyer can advise you about what you might expect regarding child support, including whether you or the other parent may expect to pay it or receive it.
Contact an Experienced Child Relocation Attorney for Help
At Men’s & Fathers’ Rights Divorce Lawyers by Schultz & Associates, LLC, we believe it is best for children to have strong bonds with both of their parents. If a proposed move by the other parent is potentially threatening your bond with your child, or if you need or wish to move because of better opportunities in another part of the country or state and don’t want it to negatively affect your relationship with your child, we are here to help you understand your options. Our experienced child relocation attorney advocates for parents seeking to stop relocations and for those who wish to move. We will guide you throughout the legal process. Reach out to our family law firm to arrange a case evaluation by calling (201) 880-9770.