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New Jersey child relocation ruling changes the law

The New Jersey Supreme Court has reversed approximately 20 years of family law with a groundbreaking decision about the relocation of children by divorced parents. Previously, the law focused on whether the potential move could result in "harm" to the child; and, in order to determine this, the courts assumed that the children would be happier when the parents were happier.

In recent years, psychological research has revealed that children are happiest when they have contact with both parents. The recent decision reflects this fact by ensuring that courts consider whether a child will have continued contact with both parents when deciding if a move will be in the child's best interest. One family law attorney commenting on the decision said that it was not revolutionary or landmark, but it was sensible.

The new legal standard will put more pressure on the relocating parent to prove that the move will be in the best interest of his or her kids. The result will be a deeper consideration of both parents, and the wishes of both parents, in terms of what is best for their children in such cases.

In the instant case, a woman with twin daughters wanted to move away from New Jersey to Utah in order to marry someone she started dating before she divorced her ex. However, the relocation stipulation in the woman's divorce agreement states that her ex needs to provide consent to any move. The father said that his ex could move to Utah if she wanted, but his daughters should stay. At first the court permitted the woman to move with her daughters, but the father appealed and won. Now the man's daughters have moved back to New Jersey with their mother.

Do you have questions about relocation and your children following a New Jersey divorce? A family law attorney can help you determine your legal rights and options.

Source: N.J. com, "Court changes rules for divorced parent who wants to leave N.J. with child," Justin Zaremba, Aug. 10, 2017

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