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Can I Relocate with My Children After the Divorce?

Schwartz, Hanna, Olsen, & Taus, P.C. April 22, 2022

Sometimes after a divorce, the best thing for a parent and children is to move. This may be for a bigger or smaller home, a better job, or to be closer to family who can help with the children. It may also be to protect the safety, well-being, and health of the children.

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Although there may be numerous reasons for relocating with your children after divorce, there are processes and limitations to making such a move. Remember that with anything involving the custody and visitation of children, the court uses the children’s best interests to guide its decisions.

At Schwartz, Hanna, Olsen, & Taus, P.C., we help couples and families before, during, and after a divorce using our combined 80 years of experience. If you are considering relocation with your children after divorce and you live in the New Jersey areas of Middlesex, Somerset, Morris, Passaic, Essex, and Bergen Counties, or anywhere else in the state, let us provide you with guidance on this significant legal issue.

Where Do You Want to Relocate With Your Children?

Who decides or grants permission on whether you can relocate with your children after divorce depends on where you want to move. If you are relocating within the same school district, you can do so without anyone else’s permission.

New Jersey case law has established that the parent with primary physical custody of the children can relocate with them outside the school district so long as they are still within the state of New Jersey and so long as it does not create significant issues with visitation arrangements in the parenting plan.

Remember that custody and visitation are court orders. Changes to them must be approved or decided by the court, and new orders must be issued.

If you want to move somewhere outside of New Jersey, you must file a removal application with the court. If the other parent is unwilling to consent to the move, the court will decide based on what it believes to be in the best interests of the children.

What About Notifying the Other Parent?

Even if the other parent’s consent is not necessary and the relocation will not affect the existing parenting plan, such as when moving to an adjacent community in the state, you should still discuss the move with the other parent. Getting the other parent’s consent in writing is always a good idea.

If you file a relocation request with the court, the other parent will be notified. You will need to provide documentation regarding the move, and the other parent will have the opportunity to consent or plead their objections in court.

The other parent may not be notified if the court issues an emergency order in cases where the children’s safety is at risk by that parent.

What Factors Affect Relocation?

The same factors that affect child custody affect the relocation of children. In relocation and custody, the best interests of the children are paramount. Among those considerations are:

  • The child’s health and well-being

  • Education

  • Willingness and ability of parents to co-parent effectively

  • The relationship between children and each parent

  • Preference of the children if they are mature enough to express an opinion

  • The ages and number of children

  • The employment and financial situations of each parent

  • The overall stability of the home

If the court decides that the custodial parent is relocating in good faith and not out of a desire to put distance between the other parent and the children, and if the court believes the move best serves the interests of the children, it will issue new orders regarding child custody and parenting arrangements.

Skilled Legal Guidance

Moving with children is not just your decision. The consent of the other parent and the court and the best interests of the children are issues you must address. The family law attorneys at Schwartz, Hanna, Olsen, & Taus, P.C. have helped hundreds of families in Middlesex County and throughout New Jersey navigate relocation.

If you are considering moving with your children, call us now to schedule a consultation. We want to help.