Landmark Decision in NJ Supreme Court Changes Child Relocation Law

Bergen County NJ Relocation Attorneys
Attorney Paul H. Townsend presents his arguments to the New Jersey Supreme Court in Bisbing v Bisbing


On Tuesday, in a landmark decision THAT WILL IMPACT ALL NEW JERSEY PARENTS SEEKING TO RELOCATE, the New Jersey Supreme Court modified the Appellate Division and created a new standard of review when a parent seeks to remove the children to another state.

The conflict arose when the mother sought to relocate to Utah, the home state of her (now) husband.  The father objected to the removal of the parties’ two children.  Upon the mother’s application for relocation, the trial court authorized the move.  The father appealed, and the Appellate Division reversed the trial court’s decision, holding that if father could prove the mother negotiated the parties’ custody agreement in bad faith, the court should use the best interests of the child, not the standard set forth under Baures v. Lewis.  If the father could not prove bad faith, the mother would nevertheless have to prove a substantial unanticipated change in circumstance prior to moving forward under Baures.

Paul H. Townsend, of Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, L.L.C., the firm who represented the mother beginning with the initial relocation application, successfully argued the case for the mother, causing the Supreme Court to modify the Appellate Division’s arbitrary, subjective and unworkable standard.   The Supreme Court found “special justification” to depart from the Baures standard, finding Baures was no longer supported by social science or the trend in the law.

Attorney Paul Townsend stated “The Bisbing decision is a victory for all parents in that it modifies the Appellate Division’s subjective and frankly unworkable standards; that the non-moving party must prove that there was ‘bad faith’ in the negotiation of the agreement, and if they are unable to do so, then the moving party must prove a ‘substantial and unanticipated change in circumstance’. This decision focuses the court on where it should be always, the best interests of the children.”

Child Relocation Laws for Bergen County Parents

The decision by the Supreme Court of New Jersey in Bisbing v Bisbing has set a new legal standard for how all child relocation disputes will be decided moving forward. Contrary to prior case law established in Baures v Lewis, the determining case law for the past 20 years, all child relocation requests in New Jersey will be decided on a best interest basis for the children involved, regardless of the type of legal or physical custody any one parent may have.

As our firm and Attorney Paul H. Townsend were instrumental in bringing about this change in case law, we are ideally suited to helping you with your child custody or parental relocation issue. We have an intimate understanding of the requirements and process of requesting and contesting an out-of-state parental relocation request, and we are prepared to provide you with the experienced, knowledgeable, and effective legal counsel that you need and deserve in any matter so important to you and your family.

To speak with our firm today in a free and confidential consultation regarding your divorce, child custody agreement, a child custody modification, or child relocation request, please contact us online, or through our Hackensack office at (201) 397-1750.

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