In today’s ever-increasing mobile society, divorced or separate families find themselves relocating for a variety of reasons, including employment opportunities, new relationships, financial incentives and to be closer to family.

But what happens after families relocate out-of-state and child custody issues arise? Which state has jurisdiction to hear the matter?

Background

In 1968, the Uniform

As noted by Robert Epstein in his blog post from earlier today, issues surrounding jurisdiction are often complicated and fact-specific.  Luckily, in the recent published decision (precedential) Johnson v. Bradshaw, the Court was able to draw a clear line regarding jurisdiction over support orders for parties that no longer reside in New Jersey.

The

New Jersey adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) in 2004, replacing the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) in an effort to facilitate cooperation between courts of other states to ensure that the state best able to decide a given custody matter actually makes that decision.  The UCCJEA was recently at the forefront in Dalessio v. Gallagher and Jacobs, a new reported (precedential) decision from the Appellate Division.

To ensure that the state most capable of deciding a custody matter has jurisdiction to hear the case, the UCCJEA gives priority to the "home state."  The statute provides as to the "home state" definition:

a.  . . . [A] court of this State has jurisdiction to make an initial child custody determination only if:

(1)  this State is the home state of the child on the date of the commencement of the proceeding, or was the home state of the child within six months before the commencement of the proceeding and the child is absent from this State but a parent or person acting as a parent continues to live in this State;

(2)  a court of another state does not have jurisdiction under paragraph (1) of this subsection, or a court of the home state of the child has declined to exercise jurisdiction . . . and:  (a)  the child and the child’s parents, or the child and at least one parent . . . have a significant connection with this State other than mere physical presence; and (b) substantial evidence is available in this State concerning the child’s care, protection, training and personal relationships[.]

b.  Subsection a. of this section is the exclusive jurisdiction basis for making a child custody determination by a court of this State.

The "home state" is defined by the New Jersey law as "the state in which a child lived with a parent or person acting as a parent for at least six consecutive months immediately before the commencement of a child custody proceeding." 


Continue Reading Which State Decides Custody? New Appellate Division Decision Explores The Uccjea

A North Carolina woman recently sued her husband’s paramour and won big, and I mean big. Cynthia Shackelford won $9 million in a law suit against Anne Lundquist, the woman who had an affair with Cynthia Shackelford’s husband, Allan Shackelford. North Carolina along with six other states (Hawaii, Illinois, Mississippi, New Mexico, South Dakota and

We have previously blogged about the broad protections attached to the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act.  However, can a victim alleging domestic violence only having occurred in another State come into New Jersey and seek the Act’s protections?  The short answer is – yes.  The question essentially becomes one of jurisdiction – do

A basic question that people often ask at the outset of a divorce is, does the Court have the ability, or jurisdiction, to hear their case, especially when one spouse lives in a state other than New Jersey?

New Jersey statutory law seems clear, but the outcomes of a jurisdictional question over whether the Court can hear the cause of action for divorce are often based on highly fact-specific scenarios. N.J.S.A. 2A:34-10 states, in relevant part to this blog entry, that a New Jersey Court may have jurisdiction over a divorce when either party to the marriage has “become, and for at least 1 year next preceding the commencement of the action has continued to be, a bona fide resident” of New Jersey. As noted by the Appellate Division in the recently decided Boghosian v. Boghosian, an intricate and interesting unreported (not precedential) opinion decided on August 17, 2009, New Jersey Courts interpreting the language of this law have concluded that “bona fide resident” is the equivalent of “domiciliary” and that either party must actually be domiciled in this State. 


Continue Reading Appellate Division Issues Interesting Opinion on Jurisdictional Issues

What happens when a parent leaves the state and relocates to another state?  Which state has decision making power over the issue of custody?

The recently issued unpublished Appellate Division decision  of Hinton-Lynch v. Horton dealt with the issue of whether New Jersey courts had decision making power regarding custody of a child who’s home