TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) — The New Jersey Supreme Court has issued a ruling that reverses 20 years of family court precedent in the state.
Now, when a divorced parent wants to move out of state with their children, the best interests of the kids must be decided.
The ruling comes in the case of a divorced North Jersey couple. The mom moved with her two daughters to Utah. The father fought that, and the mom and kids returned to New Jersey.
The high court supported the order to return, and brushed aside the old standard that considered whether a move would cause harm to a child.
“It was based on social science that said when the custodial parent is happy, the children are happy. What this case does is recognize that that social science has not borne out to be true,” said Jennifer Weisberg Millner, a family law attorney for Fox Rothschild.
She believes the ruling supports the notion that, in most cases, children are better off with both parents playing significant roles in their children’s lives.
“Now what the courts have to do is, when a parent wants to move out of state with the children, the courts have to make a determination as to whether it’s in the children’s best interests,” Millner added.
Will the children have a say? That depends, she suggests, in large part on the maturity of those kids. Then again, that standard is in use today. The change? Now the kids, not the parents, come first.