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Sunday, November 18, 2018

P.H. VS. L.W. (FD-02-0659-16, BERGEN COUNTY AND STATEWIDE) (A-5345-16T4)

In this appeal involving an interstate custody dispute, the court reverses the Family Part's order denying the South Dakota mother's motion to dismiss. Applying the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, the court concludes the Family Part initially exercised jurisdiction in 2016 based on a mistaken finding that New Jersey was the children's "home state," as the parties' twin daughters did not reside here for six consecutive months immediately before the father filed suit. Furthermore, the trial court should have determined, by the time it decided defendant's motion to dismiss over a year later, that New Jersey lacked "exclusive, continuing jurisdiction," because both parties and their daughters had long been absent from New Jersey, they lacked a significant connection here, and substantial relevant evidence was no longer available here. In any event, New Jersey had become an inconvenient forum. The court remands the case for a stay of further proceedings in anticipation of dismissal.