With the economy in shatters because of the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, many New Jersey families are having to adjust their routines, schedules, and priorities. Some divorced couples may even be dealing with the fact that one or both parents have lost their job or have had to accept a transfer to another state in order to keep their job. Whether it was because of coronavirus or another reason, if you are dealing with a situation where you or your ex-spouse has to move to another state, you are now facing a long-distance custody plan. Here's what you should consider.
New Jersey Courts Are Still Closed
All family courts are still closed in New Jersey, but that doesn't mean that all family court matters are on hold. Some hearings and motions are being held via video conferencing, so you should talk to a seasoned New Jersey family attorney who can advise you on whether a change to your custody agreement warrants an emergency hearing.
The best thing you can do is communicate with your co-parent. If you have learned you need to move to another state in order to keep your job and you have joint custody of your children, you are obviously going to need to let your former partner know. If the two of you can come to a temporary arrangement that is suitable to you both, when you approach the court to officially modify your custody plan it will speak volumes to a judge that you were able to work together to adapt to the new situation.
Things to Consider for a Long-Distance Custody Plan
There are several factors that parents must consider when working out a long-distance custody plan. Remember, New Jersey family courts hold what is in the best interests of the children first and foremost when they consider child custody plans.
Where do the children go to school? It makes the most sense to not uproot children from their school. If you and your former spouse are happy with your children's current schools, then the parent who is staying in New Jersey should probably be awarded sole custody of the children.
How will physical visitation be handled? If you are moving out of state, talk to your former partner about how you will handle visitations. Will you travel back to New Jersey on a frequent basis to visit the children, or will you have the children come to you in your new home? Who will pay for the transportation of the children? Find a workable option that is satisfactory for both parents. A skilled attorney can help you come up with answers to these issues.
How will regular contact be handled? The good news is that with the pandemic, many families have quickly adjusted to staying in touch via Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime visits. If you are now the long-distance parent, you and your former partner can come to an agreement on how often you will communicate via video conferencing or simple phone calls with the children in order to stay in touch with what is going on in their lives.
New Jersey Custody Attorney
If you are facing a relocation out of New Jersey, you need to talk to a seasoned family law attorney right away to discuss all your options. Attorney Joseph D. Lento understands that becoming a long-distance parent is challenging, and you will have a lot to consider both personally and legally. Call 888-535-3686 to learn more about a long-distance custody agreement.