When a couple is divorcing, the decisions they make as individuals don’t have any bearing on anyone but themselves. Unless, of course, they have children. Child custody matters can become problematic when one spouse wants to move out of New Jersey entirely and wants to bring the children. An interstate child custody case can get very complicated with legal, practical and emotional factors to consider.
Why does it matter?
Jurisdiction refers to a court’s power to decide a case. A court must have jurisdiction to hear a child custody case or a decision won’t be enforceable. Jurisdiction is based on where the children live with regard to the following (in most important order):
- The home state of the child
- Whether there are significant connections to the state regarding the child such as grandparents, friends, teachers or doctors
- The child is in the state because of safety issues such as danger of neglect or abuse if they had remained in their former state
If there isn’t a state that can claim one of these criteria, another state may be able to claim jurisdiction. When the parents live far from each other, jurisdiction matters. The parent whose state gets jurisdiction is the one to handle custody at his or her local courthouse. The other parent must find a local lawyer in the state of the first parent for assistance and he or she may have to travel for hearings.
Best interests of the children
In any child custody relocation dispute — and indeed anything to do with children — a family court judge in New Jersey will always put the best interests of the children first. Each parent must show evidence why it would be best for the children to stay in their current state or to move out of state. It is important to consult with an attorney who will put together the strongest case on a client’s behalf.