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New Jersey changes relocation laws for divorced parents

When a couple with children divorces, one parent may be granted primary custody of the child while the other gets visitation and is asked to pay child support. A major post-divorce issue for many of these couples is relocation. The custodial parent may want to leave New Jersey and take their child with them, but the other parent may oppose their decision.

For almost two decades, since 2001, custodial parents in New Jersey who want to relocate with their child have been required to prove to the court that the child would not suffer harm from the move and that there was a good faith reason to move. This standard was based on the idea that children are better off when the parent is happier. However, studies have shown that this is not always the case. Instead, experts have found that children benefit when they are in regular contact with both parents.

In a recent ruling on a 2015 case, the New Jersey Supreme Court implemented a new standard for child relocation requiring that a parent prove that the move is in the child's best interest. This new standard emphasizes the importance of having both parents involved in the child's life and focuses only on doing what is best for the child.

Those in favor of this change in standard say that no amount of technology can replace in-person, quality time with both parents and that children will benefit from this change. However, those that oppose the new standard say that this may make it more difficult for custodial parents to get away from their abusive exes. In any case, divorced couples with children should be aware of these changes when deciding whether to move with their kids.

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

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