This is What Happens When Both Parents Don't Live in NJ


It doesn’t matter if Mom and Dad were ever married.  There are tons of reasons that both parents might not live in New Jersey.  It could be that one relocated out of state in connection with a job assignment.  Maybe the couple met in one state on vacation and returned to their home.  Of course, there’s always the possibility that the cost of living was less expensive somewhere else.  How does this all work when it comes to custody, visitation and parenting time?

For purposes of this discussion, we aren’t going to go over situations where one parent wants to relocate the child to another state, or even, country.  Instead, our intention is to provide you with information when the situation already exists.  Of course, if child relocation is an immediate need, you should always consult with an experienced family law attorney.

A Question of Jurisdiction

Let’s start from the beginning.  The parents live in two different states.  For example, Mom lives in New Jersey; Dad is in Florida.  Who has jurisdiction concerning issues pertaining to their child?  First and foremost, where does the child live?  If the child has lived with Mom in New Jersey for the last six months, the New Jersey courts will hear the case.

What if the child in question is an infant?  Custody cases involving children under the age of six months are considered in the state where the child was born and lived for its short life.

Of course, not all situations can be pigeon-holed.  Different considerations may be reviewed and suggest that jurisdiction is not so self-evident.  An attorney can explain how the court makes alternative determinations.  There are also important exceptions to the rule.  For example, if someone takes off with their child, jurisdiction will be ascertained in a different manner.

Note that this information pertains to matters where no court order regarding custody, parenting or visitation is already in place. The complete statute regarding jurisdiction for initial child custody is found here.   The answer may be different if a divorce has already concluded or if there is a ruling on custody.

Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act

The statutory law regarding child custody jurisdiction and enforcement starts at NJSA 2A:34-53 and is continued through NJSA 2A:34-95.  Here’s a quick summary of some of the laws:

  • Foreign countries are treated as states when it comes to custody
  • New Jersey custody orders apply to all persons appropriately served with papers
  • Jurisdictional concerns are given top priority
  • Notice requirements must be complied with for out-of-state residents
  • Communication between courts in different states is permissible
  • Temporary jurisdiction may be assigned to New Jersey in some emergent situations
  • Parties who are out-of-state may be ordered to appear in New Jersey for custody cases
  • New Jersey will honor custody orders from other states and enforce them, barring evidence that the order was vacated, stayed, or modified by a court authorized to do so
  • Law enforcement officials may be ordered to help locate children in these types of cases
  • Penalties exist for those who fail to comply with this section of the law

We have only provided you with some of the major components of the law involving cases where the parents live in either different states or other countries.  You should consult with an experienced matrimonial attorney to learn more about these types of situations.

Contact Us

At the Law Offices of Sam Stoia, we have experience in custody law.  We recognize the importance of parents and are here to assist you.  Contact our office to see how we can protect both yours and your children’s interests.