Relocation

New Jersey places strict limits upon the ability of a custodial parent to relocate with children outside of its jurisdiction. In fact, the "removal" statute, N.J.S.A. 9:2-2, prohibits the removal of children of divorced or separated parents from the state of New Jersey without court authorization unless both parents consent, or the children themselves consent if they are deemed old enough.

The Superior Court of New Jersey will have jurisdiction over a "removal" case when the children are natives of this state or have resided here for more than five years. However, even if the children are not natives of New Jersey and have not resided here for five years, the Superior Court may have jurisdiction to decide an application for removal under N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23, which authorizes the court, after a judgment of divorce, to make such orders as to the care, custody, education and maintenance of the children as the circumstances of the parties and the nature of the case shall render fit, reasonable and just.

Additionally, under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act, where a child has called the state of New Jersey "home" for a period of more than six months, New Jersey is considered the child's home state. Thus, the New Jersey courts would have jurisdiction to make custody determinations or modifications that may permit or deny removal. While the "removal" statute provides that a child can consent to his or her own removal from this state upon being "of suitable age," the statute does not define "suitable age."

However, case law in New Jersey provides some guidance in this regard. The courts have determined that an 8-year-old is not of suitable age, but that attaining the age of 14 is a starting point upon which a child may have input as to where he or she will live.

Deitch and Perone, P.C., is here to help you through these tough times.