Making relocation easier. Is this a positive trend?

In a continuing stream of court opinions that appear to make it easier for a custodial parent to relocate outside the borders of New Jersey with the children, an unreported decision remanded a relocation case back to the trial judge so that a plenary hearing could be held. Such a hearing was necessary given the competing factual allegations in the certifications submitted by each party. The trial court judge originally decided to deny the relocation request because the proposed move would have had an unacceptably negative impact on the father’s parenting time. While I disagree with the tone of this decision, it signifies a shift in the law.

20-2-8964 Loos v. Brown, App. Div. (per curiam) (6 pp.) The appellate panel reverses a family judge’s determination — reached without benefit of an evidentiary hearing and in the face of competing certifications — that prohibited the primary custodial parent’s (mother) removal of the parties’ child from New Jersey to North Dakota. In denying relief, the trial judge placed too much weight on the impact removal would have on the father’s rights and interests. The judge should not have assigned weight to any of the circumstances contained in the parties’ competing certifications because the facts were largely disputed. The judge should have recognized that the mother had satisfied the burden of presenting a prima facie case, placing the burden of going forward on the father to “produce evidence opposing the move as either not in good faith or inimical to the child’s interest.” Once the mother presented a prima facie case, the judge should have scheduled an evidentiary hearing to resolve the parties’ many factual disputes. The panel remands for an evidentiary hearing.

About Sandy Durst

Sandy Durst, Esq., is the founding partner of The Durst Firm where he heads the Family Law Department. Individuals facing a divorce benefit from the combination of legal skill, common sense and compassion that Sandy brings to each and every matter. Each case is given the personalized attention it deserves.
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