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Know the Laws: New Jersey

UPDATED February 3, 2016

State Parental Kidnapping Information

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This page includes information that is specific to this state, about parental kidnapping, also called custodial interference. There is also a page for general information that you may find helpful. Custody and kidnapping are particularly complicated and it is important to try to find an experienced lawyer to help you with your case.

back to topIf I think that the other parent may abduct my child, is there anything I can do?

You should immediately contact a lawyer who can help you try to prevent abduction. For a list of legal resources, please see our NJ Finding a Lawyer page. If you can convince a judge that your concerns are "reasonable" based on the facts, a court may take steps to prevent the other parent from abducting your child. If you think that the other parent may flee the state with the purpose of kidnapping your child, then there are several things you can do:

  1. File a criminal complaint against the other parent (if the other parent is in the process of fleeing the jurisdiction in violation of a court order or with the purpose of kidnapping your child)
  2. Attempt to get an emergency Temporary Restraining Order from Family court. See the NJ How to Get a Restraining Order page for more information on how to do this.

If you think that the other parent may try to take your child out of the country, you could ask the court to seize your child's passport so s/he cannot leave the country. For more information on keeping the other parent from taking your children out of the country, see our Custody Info and Kidnapping Info page.

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back to topCan I get temporary custody if I have a restraining order against the other parent?

You can ask the court for temporary custody during a proceeding to get a restraining order against the other parent. If the court grants you a restraining order against the other parent, then the court will usually issue an order awarding you temporary custody of your child. The court here presumes that it is in the best interest of your child to award custody to the non-abusive parent.

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back to topCan I get temporary emergency custody?

Maybe. Even if you would not be able to bring a permanent custody action in NJ because it is not your child's "home state", you may file for temporary emergency custody in a New Jersey court so long as your child is currently living in the state. If the court feels it is necessary in an emergency to protect you or your child from mistreatment or abuse, a judge will grant an order of temporary emergency custody. You will need to prove to the judge that there is immediate and present danger of abuse and it is necessary to protect you or your children. If you have strong proof that your child is in danger, a judge will usually grant temporary emergency custody. Some judges do not require much proof, while others almost never grant temporary emergency custody.

Usually, in NJ, when a temporary restraining order is issued, temporary physical custody of the children is granted to the victim at that time. In domestic violence restraining orders, emergency temporary custody of the child is routinely granted to the non-abusive parent until there is a hearing for a permanent restraining order. A visitation schedule for the other parent may be included in the temporary restraining order but often, the abuser is not allowed to have any contact with the child until the hearing for the permanent restraining order. During the hearing for a permanent restraining order, the judge will determine who will be granted temporary physical custody of the children and what visitation rights the other parent will have until there is a child custody proceeding.

If a temporary restraining order is not issued, a parent (or other caretaker of the child) can apply for temporary physical custody by filing a Complaint for Custody. If you have not filed any motions with the court before this, then you can file an "Order to Show Cause" with a "Verified Complaint." If a Complaint has already been filed, an Order to Show Cause can be filed at any time if there are developing issues that need to be addressed with regard to custody. In this situation, it would be very difficult to get emergency custody if you do not have a lawyer helping you. Therefore we recommend that you ask a lawyer for advice in this situation. For a list of legal resources, see our NJ Finding a Lawyer page.

 

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