My ex-wife is planning to move out of the country (to France) next year with my daughters (12 and 10 years old respectively). We have shared custody. I pay alimony (been paying for 7 years, 3 more to go) and child support. We have a good relationship in general.

My questions:

  1. What can I do legally to prevent her from moving indefinitely to France? She says it will only be for 2 years but I do not believe it. I believe she's saying so just to not find opposition from my side. I might be OK with her moving for up to 2 years but not more than that.

  2. What are the implications in terms of Alimony if she moves out of the country for such a long period of time? What about implications to Child Support?

  3. I do not believe she will be living in France with a work permit. I believe she will be working on some kind of informal business. If I am right, and she won't be working "Legally" in France, what can I do here in the US to prevent her from taking my daughters considering the fact that she won't potentially have a better standard of living than the one she has here and the fact that she won't have a work permit to work in France? Can I take her to court and demand that she provides proof of a work permit and job contract?

In general, what are my legal options, if any?

Note: We live in New Jersey

  • 2
    She may not need a work permit. She will need some legal basis for remaining in France for longer than 90 days, however. Many avenues for staying in France include an intrinsic right to work.
    – phoog
    Commented Nov 18, 2017 at 11:40

1 Answer 1


Child custody (and alimony) are determined by state courts, so the exact details are state-dependent.

There is no legal basis for a person preventing thrie former spouse from moving (assuming the host country doesn't deny a visa), but the courts would be involved in determining whether the child can be taken along: parent A cannot legally just pack up the kids and bolt.

When parents don't agree, then the court must determine what outcome is in the best interest of the child.

  • If the children want to move, that counts in favor of them moving ("counts in favor" does not mean "decides the matter").
  • If the moving parent doesn't have viable employment prospects abroad, that counts against them moving.
  • The amount of time each parent spends with the children also matters, not to mention the laws of your state (here is what the California courts say: "Move-Away" Situations).

Generally speaking, the moving parent has to provide notice, then the non-moving parent has to file a legal action to block the move. Your attorney will discuss all of the relevant considerations with you.

The fact of a parent moving to another country does not per se invalidate court-ordered support, but the court can modify an order if circumstances warrant (there's no obvious reason why moving to France would result in modification of such an order).

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