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New Jersey law requires that parents of children who are divorced or separated from the other parent receive permission before removing a child from the state. The reason for the law is that one parent removing a child from the state often makes it difficult for the other parent to spend time with the child. The state is charged with making decisions in the best interest of the child, and it finds that parenting time with both parents in usually in the child’s best interest.

Non-Custodial Parent Consents

New Jersey law depends on whether the parent wishing to move the child is the custodial or non-custodial parent. A non-custodial parent may move out of the state, without the child, without permission. The custodial parent, however, must obtain permission to move. If the other parent consents to the move, the child can be removed from the state without going through a legal proceeding, though it can be helpful to have written permission signed by each parent.

Court Order Required

If, on the other hand, the other parent does not give permission for the child to move out of state, the parent requesting to move will need to go to the court for permission. In order to obtain a court order permitting a child to leave New Jersey, the custodial parent must show a good faith reason for the move and show that the move will not be against the best interest of the child.

In the court proceeding, the custodial parent will first provide evidence to show that the move is in the best interest of the child and that he or she has a good faith reason for wishing to move. Next, the non-custodial parent must give his or her reasons that demonstrate that the opposite is true. The court will then examine the testimony of both parents and consider a number of factors to come to a determination. The factors include the reasons for the move and the reasons for the objection to the move, whether the visitation will be disturbed by the move, and, if old enough, the wishes of the child. If the court agrees with the parent wishing to move the child, the judge will issue a court order.

Shared Child Custody

In cases of shared custody of the child, the process is more difficult as the court will view a move out of state as a request to change the custody order. This is because in cases of shared custody, a move by one parent outside the state will usually disrupt the custody of the child, as the other parent is no longer nearby to share custody.

An Exception to the Rule

An exception to the permission rule exists where the custodial parent removes the child to flee the immediate risk of physical harm from the other parent. In that case, the fleeing parent must contact local law enforcement within 24 hours.

Removing a child from the State of New Jersey requires advanced planning to ensure the move is lawful. Call Peter Van Aulen for a free initial consultation to discuss the details of your specific case.


N.J.S.A. 9:2-2

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