So many people across the US are moving these days. Some move for new job opportunities or to continue their education at an out-of-state university. Others move because of a new romantic relationship. Some people may simply not be able to afford the cost of living, especially here in New Jersey and all along the East Coast. What happens when your child’s other parent moves out of New Jersey? Will this affect child custody? What about your current parenting time and holiday arrangement? Here are three key ways to prepare for what can be a major shift for you and your children.
The family court here in New Jersey cannot compel your child’s other parent to remain here in the Garden State, but, without question, the geographic change can certainly wreak havoc on parenting time and holidays. Obviously, the further away your ex moves, the more difficult and expensive travel can be, especially if your child is very young and will require a guardian to accompany them on a long journey. To cope with these changes, consider these options:
1. Communicate: If you find yourself in this situation, attempt to sit down with your ex, if at all possible and try to work out a new schedule that works for the entire family. It is in everyone’s best interests if you can come up with your own agreement that will affect the changes as seamlessly as possible. Change can be traumatic to kids, so you as couple should attempt to minimize the stress on them as best as you can. If you cannot work out an arrangement, then the court will have to get involved. The judge will come up with their own parenting and holiday plan that takes into account what is in the best interests of the children. Why not try to come up with your own plan that you and you ex control?
2. Adjust: It may be necessary to rework your child custody arrangement, and the parenting and holiday time into different time segments. For example, if your ex is moving to California, then parenting time on alternating weekends becomes no longer feasible, especially during the school year. Even if you have the financial resources that make this possible, this constant travel would be extremely draining on a child. Likewise, if you and your child’s other parent were splitting time on Christmas Day or Thanksgiving, this will also no longer work. You may need to contemplate your child visiting your ex’s new state for one month in the summer and for all of your child’s winter or spring break from school. You can certainly alternate these school vacations and holidays year by year, so that each of you gets to share important holidays at least every other year. Sit down with your ex and a calendar and devise a schedule that works for you and the family, at least for the coming year. The two of you can always tweak the schedule once it is actually put into place.
3. Plan: What about the finances? Will your child need to fly? Will he need a guardian with him or her? Is a train or bus reasonable? Approach your ex about the travel costs for your child and ask if they would be willing to shoulder the travel expenses, since they are the relocating parent. In some situations, this may not be possible and you may have to share travel expenses with your ex. To help ease the costs for your child to travel, offer an “open door” policy here in New Jersey where, with sufficient notice, your ex can come and see the child here whenever they can.
If you need guidance or assistance in coming up with a workable parenting plan or holiday schedule, consider consulting with a attorneys or attending mediation with your ex. When you are ready, please contact us to schedule your free consultation with one of our qualified and experienced family law attorneys who can assist you in devising a plan for now and into the future.
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