Category: Child Abuse

Adding a New Jersey Parenting Coordinator for the Best Interest of the Children

Divorce and Parenting Lawyers providing counsel to clients in Lakewood, Brick, Colts Neck, Beach Haven, and across Ocean and Monmouth Counties

Advantages of Having a New Jersey Parenting Coordinator Sometimes doing things the way they have always been done is not as effective as trying something new.  For decades, divorces were focused on the parents arguing and yelling or settling down at the table to talk; the children embroiled in the crossfire were never asked for their opinion about what their future would look like.

More than one million children are affected by divorce every year. Millions of children will be mixed up in their parents’ conflicts, unable to escape the vulnerable and harsh world they experience daily.

As part of a pilot program from 2007 to 2012, Bergen, Morris, Sussex, and Union counties established a method similar to mediation for parents who were having difficulties avoiding conflict in the most basic of parenting issues.  Despite having finished, judges still use the program when they feel it is necessary and would behoove the entire family. The one exception is if there is a history of domestic violence.

Parenting Coordinator Profile

A parenting coordinator is a neutral party chosen by the court or agreed to by the parents who are struggling with aspects of parenting decisions.  Psychologists, psychiatrists, family therapists, and even qualified lawyers are some professionals that make good coordinators.  It should be someone with experience in working with families, especially children.

Mediation Role of the Parent Coordinator

A parent coordinator’s purpose is to help a family focus on the importance of their parenting plan by negotiating solutions to problems that the parents cannot find a solution to, even when a project is already in place.  The use of a parenting coordinator can reprioritize goals, make way for compromise, discuss possible misunderstandings, and learn methods of communication to express oneself in a way that promotes collaboration and positivity.

Possible Scenarios for a Parenting Coordinator to Step In

A judge can appoint a parenting coordinator when they feel it is necessary, even after a final order is given or when a parent has violated the custody order and is held in contempt. If both parties agree, or one party can prove there is a need for a coordinator or the judge, analyzing the dispute, decides that one is needed based on the list below.

The judge can only appoint a parenting coordinator when both parents can afford to pay for the sessions. The child’s best interests would be best served if a parenting coordinator was appointed.  If the judge decides it is a “high conflict case,” meaning that the parents in the case have used excessive litigation, verbal abuse, and distrust. There have been incidents of physical aggression or threats of physical attack.  The parents cannot agree on the care of the children. The judge believes a parent coordinator can solve several of the issues.

Issues Handled by a Parenting Coordinator in New Jersey

Custody & Divorce Lawyers in Ocean County, NJIt is important to remember that the parenting coordinator has specific content to stay focused on.  There is no ad-lib or spur-of-the-moment discussion. The coordinator is there to work with the parents to reach answers to problematic issues. A parent coordinator facilitates productive discussions and identifies the stumbling blocks that the parents are experiencing that prevent them from making decisions that will allow them to parent together. The coordinator establishes boundaries and ensures that the parents treat one another with respect. Educating parents on making decisions that are in the child’s best interests is another skill the coordinator has.  Frequently, the parents want to “win” the discussion without considering the benefit the outcome will have for the children. The parenting coordinator provides resources the parents can use for decision-making skills and documents all the progress made in the sessions. If necessary, the coordinator will bring the children into the discussion in a calm and safe environment to express their concerns without verbal attacks.

There are several topics such as diet, clothing, recreation, extracurricular activities, daycare and babysitting, vacations, education, transportation to and from visitation, health care management, and use of social media, among others.

Parenting Coordinator Appointed by Court

The court can appoint one for you, or you can request on your own that the court appoint one for you.

Talk to an Experienced Brick Family Lawyer to Supervise the Parenting Coordination Process in Southern New Jersey

The parenting coordinator focuses on specific problems between the parents and their possible solutions.  The lawyer’s role is to make sure that the decisions made are legal and for the best interests of the client and their children. After each session, the parenting coordinator will draw up a document summarizing the day’s events and give it to the lawyer.  Custody agreements, visitation, and child support can be discussed, but it is the lawyer who submits the motions.

Bronzino Law Firm has vastly experienced family lawyers whose goal is to make your experience as straightforward and productive as possible.  Every family has its own needs and concerns. Our committed attorneys are empathetic and will listen to your unique issues in Toms River, Mantoloking, Stafford, Beachwood, Berkeley, Lacey, Ocean Township, and along the Jersey Shore.

Contact us at (732) 812-3102 or online for a no-cost consultation. We know this is a difficult time for you and will do everything to help.

Attorneys Assisting Clients with Third-Party Custody Cases in Freehold and Toms River NJ

New Jersey law grants custody to parents, but a third party can ask for the custody of the child or children involved if there’s sufficient proof that the child’s best interest is unsatisfied.

Third Party Custody Cases in New JerseyUsually, custody battles involve the biological mother and father of the child.  Sometimes, neither parent is suitable to care for the child, and another adult steps in like grandparents, aunts, uncles, older siblings, older cousins, foster parents, or godparents.  These are called third-party custodians, and they are used only in the most extreme circumstances when the parents are unwilling or unfit to care for the children in their care. Unfortunately, it is a situation that has augmented in its frequency despite the court’s intentions to keep children with their parents. There are also third-party custody cases involving a child’s clear psychological parent being someone other than their biological parent.

Most of the time, third-party custody cases are between grandparents and biological parents. As grandparents have a longevity that carries them into their 80’s and 90’s, their retirement can last 20 years, providing them the time to spend with their grandchildren and develop a solid relationship. That is one of the reasons why grandparents usually play a “psychological parent” role. Honestly, anyone who has developed a close relationship with the child, such as a godparent or older sibling, can become a psychological parent.

What Are Some Circumstances Where a Third Party Has a Claim for Custody?

Before custody can be considered, the biological parents had to have allowed the child to develop a parent-like relationship between the third party and the child for a period of time long enough to have developed a solid relationship.  Also, the third party and the child must live together.  The third-party must have taken on partial emotional and financial support of the child in a parental role.

If both parents are living, but they are deemed unfit, they can lose custody. If one parent is unfit and the other has passed away, custody can be lost.  If both parents have given up their parental rights or the child has been living with a third-party person for an extended period of time, parents may lose custody. Physical child abuse and corporal punishment (a kind of abuse) are the number one reason that a parent’s custody is put into question.  Violent abuse can be a result of substance abuse or mental and psychological untreated trauma in either parent.  Sexual abuse is a more cut-and-dried reason to lose child custody.  The second most common reason is abduction.  Just because the child is yours does not allow you to drive three states out to reside with you and your new partner. Absconding with your child can be considered kidnapping. Lastly, a parent who accuses the other falsely of abuse is in jeopardy of having their visitation reduced or lost completely, depending on the egregiousness of their accusations.

The courts prefer keeping children with their biological parents.  It is very hard to get a child removed other than through the incidents discussed above.  Any measure of substandard housing, nutrition, medical care, access to education, or substance abuse has to be proven undoubtedly in order to get the ball rolling.

How Does One Prove a Bond with a Child in New Jersey?

The first part is physical proof that the child has been living with the third party, and their physical and medical needs have been met without seeking redress. Secondly, a relationship between the child and the third party must be vetted to show their emotional needs are being taken care of as well.  Day-to-day decisions such as enrolling the child in areas of interest such as sports or the arts, acute knowledge of the child’s academic results, and help without class assignments are another part.

Third-Party Custody: An Actual Case

In a case in the Appellate Court, C.P. v. N.V.P there was a custody dispute between a paternal grandmother (Catherine) and the grandchild’s mother, Nora, for the custody of six-year-old Rose.  The grandmother appealed the decision that granted Nora full custody of the child.  The grandmother had Rose in her home practically since birth but when she was older, there were conflicts in the home regarding Rose’s unwillingness to go to school, which resulted in the plaintiff’s roommate yelling at Rose, something she apparently had done to Rose frequently.

Now, due to the judge’s decision, Rose was living with her mother, Nora, in what the plaintiff referred to as substandard conditions, in an unsafe environment with Nora’s partner.  Rose had no privacy, and her health was in danger because the couple smoked marijuana. In actuality, Rose had a tent-like structure above her bed to give her some privacy. While the mother admitted to smoking marijuana before getting custody of Rose, she assured the court she was no longer using.  She was looking for a better job to move to a more suitable apartment.

Third Party Custody Attorney in Ocean County NJThe Appellate Court’s decision was to keep Rose with her mother because although the plaintiff would have been a suitable choice, the court did not see evidence of harm, gross misconduct, or abandonment.  As courts usually do, the original judge’s decision to keep the child with her mother, instead of a third party, was upheld. It indicates that the courts want to keep families together and that just because parents lose custody of their child, there are ways to retrieve that custody.

Ultimately, it is very difficult, though not impossible, for a third party to prove all that is needed to establish custody of a minor.

Connect with an Ocean Township Child Custody Attorney for Answers in Your Third Party Custody Case

The fundamental rights of parents and families are something New Jersey law protects vigorously.  That being said, decisions are not always made on absolutes.  Children, at times, cannot be with one or both parents when they aren’t safe in doing so.  Third-party custodians can fill a gap when it is desperately needed. Although the ultimate goal is to return the child to their biological family in an environment where they are safe, this may not be a possibility in some situations.

Whether your custody issue is regarding a third party claim for primary custody or visitation, at Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, we have you covered.  Are you afraid of losing custody of your children?  Is someone close to you threatening to take you to court to get custody of your children and call you an unfit parent? Are you in need of help pursuing custody as a third party who you believe is best for the child’s needs? No matter what, it can be a frightening and stressful time. Our team of top-notch family lawyers can help you to navigate the family courts and make sure that you are heard if you need assistance in Little Egg Harbor, Sea Girt, Jackson, Asbury Park, Barnegat, Rumson, or any other town across Monmouth and Ocean Counties.

Contact us at (732) 812-3102 or fill out our contact form to make an appointment for your free, confidential consultation.  There is no time better than the present to best serve your family and the children you love.

How to Manage Your Contempt Charges with the Help of an Experienced Criminal Law Attorney

Being charged with contempt of court can significantly impact your life and result in punishments as severe as jail time, a fine, or even a felony conviction on your permanent record.

How to Keep from Being Charged with Contempt of Court in New JerseyAlthough a person can be charged with contempt for inappropriate behavior which delays or disrupts court proceedings, very often a person can be charged with contempt as the result of violating a temporary restraining order (TRO) or final restraining order in simple assault or domestic violence cases. They can also be found in contempt for violating a family law court order related to child support or in problematic divorce cases where equal distribution of assets, property division, or alimony/spousal support agreement are an issue. In other cases, contempt charges may be brought for failing to appear in court or respond to a court summons.

If you or someone you know has been charged with contempt of court in New Jersey, or if you or a loved one is seeking to enforce a court-mandated order against a co-parent for child support, child custody agreement, or failure to honor a marital agreement, it’s best to retain experienced legal representation. No matter how minor the violation may seem, we can help you protect your rights. Our defense attorneys approach agreement resolution with a collaborative and amicable mindset, but will not hesitate to aggressively defend you in court.

At The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, we have extensive experience protecting our clients’ rights and finding realistic and effective solutions for any legal matter in local Ocean County and Monmouth County communities, including Brick, Spring Lake, Sea Girt, Howell, Wall, Point Pleasant, Toms River and all of Southern New Jersey.

Contact us online or call our office today for a free and confidential consultation regarding your questions and concerns or for any other family law matter.

What Constitutes Contempt of Court in New Jersey?

At its foundation, court contempt of court occurs when someone deliberately violates court order, does something to intentionally prevent a court order from being exercised, acts inappropriately in court, or disrespects the judge while court is in session, or behaves in a disrespectful manner while court is in session.

Even if the contempt violations were unintentional or committed in good faith, and may seem as minor as making contact via text message, a social media post, email, or a phone call, the state may move forward with charging that person with a disorderly persons offense.

What is the Difference Between Civil and Criminal Contempt in New Jersey?

Although there are numerous ways to be found in contempt of court, it is generally differentiated between direct and indirect criminal contempt and civil contempt.

Direct contempt is considered inappropriate behavior (i.e., offensive language or not following court rules or decorum) that occurs in front of the judge, which is dealt with on the spot. Indirect contempt occurs outside the presence of a judge and may involve a lawyer or juror willfully violating a judicial order, such as a “gag order” to not discuss the case or court proceedings outside of court. Proving this type of offense requires the court to rely on third-party testimony.

Civil contempt of court charges, on the other hand, are often brought after the plaintiff files a suit against a defendant for financial damages or injunctive relief from the court. Typically examples are failure to obey a restraining order, pay child support, follow parental visitation orders, or a divorce decree.

Another distinction between civil and criminal contempt of court charges is the constitutional safeguards a person charged with criminal contempt has. Whereas criminal contempt is subjective and must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, civil contempt must be proven by clear and convincing evidence.

What are the Penalties for Contempt in New Jersey?

What are the Penalties for Contempt in New Jersey?The purpose of imposing criminal contempt charges is to punish disobedience and to preserve the court’s authority. Punishment for civil contempt charges are remedial and are designed to benefit the complainant. New Jersey family courts exercise a great deal of discretion when imposing penalties, and more often than not, the person found in contempt is ordered to pay the other’s attorney’s fees.

Depending on the situation, violating a court order can be classified as a disorderly persons offense or a fourth-degree criminal offense, especially if one commits another crime while violating the order. Although the threat of jail is often enough to gain compliance with a court order, the court may impose community service, wage garnishment, fines, drug or alcohol treatment, or loss of driving privileges.

Whether it’s yourself or someone you know, violating a restraining order in New Jersey can be classified as a fourth-degree criminal offense or a disorderly persons offense.

A disorderly persons offense in New Jersey is punishable by:

  • Fine: up to $1000
  • Incarceration: 6 months in the county jail
  • Criminal Record: a conviction will appear on your criminal record

A fourth-degree felony in New Jersey is punishable by:

  • Fine:up to $10,000
  • Incarceration: up to 18 months in New Jersey State Prison
  • Probation: an extensive probationary period
  • Criminal Record: a felony conviction appearing on your criminal record

In family law matters, when one party knowingly refuses or fails to follow a court order it can result in additional stress, confusion, and possibly fear for one’s safety and wellbeing. If the alleged contempt of court violation is significant, you should seek to remedy this immediately.

If you have concerns or questions about a possible contempt of court case, contact an experienced Ocean County family law attorney for advice.

Contact a Brick, NJ Attorney About Your Contempt of Court Case Today

Punishment for a contempt offense can be significant. So whether you failed to appear in court, behaved inappropriately while in court, or unknowingly violated a court order, you will need a skilled Brick, NJ defense attorney to fight your charges.

If you have been charged with contempt in New Jersey or seek to enforce an existing court order, it is imperative that you speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer, so that you can explore all of your available options. Regardless of how small you think the violation may be, failure to take aggressive action can direly impact your life for years to come.

At The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, our experienced criminal defense attorneys have extensive experience helping clients in local Ocean County and Monmouth County communities including Seaside Heights, Fort Dix, Keansburg, Howell, Wall, Beachwood, Tinton Falls, and other Jersey Shore communities. Our firm is built on the foundation of strong attorney-client relationships which larger firms simply cannot match.

Please contact us online today or through our Brick, NJ office at (732) 812-3102 for a free and confidential consultation.

Our team of attorneys is ready to help you through child abuse procedures in Brick

Children who present with certain signs and characteristics often raise questions and concerns by adults, wondering if they may be abused or neglected.

What is the Protocol for Reporting Child Abuse In New Jersey?Child abuse and neglect are unpleasant situations to think about.  Our instinct is to avoid any involvement for fear of retribution by the offending party.  In 2017, 78,322 calls, were made according to Christine Beyer, commissioner of the state Department of Children and Families. That is close to 8,000 calls more than were received in 2015. Most referrals are made by educators, doctors, law enforcement, and a large portion are made by private citizens.  Not every call results in a case of abuse, but attention is paid by the authorities and the Division of Child Protection and Permanency to offer state services which can include counseling, food pantries, parenting classes, and state-subsidized income.

What Are Some Indications of Abuse?

Every child is different, and there is no exact way to determine if they have been abused.  There are, however, a series of behavioral clues which may indicate abuse.  There is a lot of crossover between the kinds of abuse and behaviors.  Some children are abused in multiple ways by the same person.

Some evidence of possible physical/sexual abuse includes bruises, burn marks, broken bones, missing patches of hair, and cuts. Child labor falls under this category, as does purposefully withholding the child from normal social interaction. If a child is aggressive, emotional, doesn’t trust adults, or is afraid of them, they could be victims of physical abuse. Tip-offs for sexual abuse include difficulty walking or sitting, discomfort in the genital area, pregnancy, or STDs, withdrawn or infantile behavior as well as sexual behavior above their actual age, and a poor relationship with peers. Emotional abuse is much more difficult to identify, but some red flags include erratic behavior, violence, lack of appetite, or overeating. Also, tantrums, fear of adults, obsessive tendencies, attention-seeking, or extreme anxiety.

What Are Some Indications of Neglect?

Children who are not attending school regularly or who come without the necessary supplies to conduct their lessons may be considered neglected.  More obvious signs are children whose clothes are dirty or torn or other signs of poor hygiene. Constant hunger, thirst, or fatigue can also indicate neglect—failure to regularly seek regular medical and dental treatment or specific treatments for chronic illnesses.

What Is Considered Abandonment?

Obviously, the clearest example of abandonment is when a minor is left alone; however, failing to protect and safeguard the child from risks and failing to keep control and custody of the child, be that with family or strangers.

How Is Cruelty Different?

Cruelty includes severe corporal punishment, inflicting physical or emotional pain, omission by allowing a child to be mentally or physically harmed, or exposing a child to unnecessary hardship, fatigue, or mental or physical strains.

How Do I Report Child Abuse?

If you have reasonable cause to believe that a child is being mistreated, contact the Division of Child Protection & Permanency (formerly called the Division of Youth & Family Services) Child Abuse Hotline (State Central Registry): 1-877-NJ ABUSE – 1-877-652-2873  If it is an emergency, always call 911.

What Information Should I Include In The Call?

What Information Should I Include In The Call to Report Abuse of Children in NJ?State Central Registry call agents are trained caseworkers who know how to respond to child abuse/neglect reports. You should include the following information:

o Who: The names of the abuser and the abused, as well as the child’s parents/custodial guardians

o What: The kind and how often the suspected abuse/neglect, physical or emotional indications of the abuse have occurred.

o When did the purported misdeed/neglect happen, and when were you made aware of it?

o Where: The location of the occurrence, the kid’s current location, and if the accused offender has access to the kid.

o How: The urgency of the need for assistance and whether the child is in imminent danger.

Am I civilly or criminally liable for reporting abuse?

Anyone who discloses child abuse or neglect is not subject to criminal or civil responsibility due to their actions. Also, if the caller loses their job due to reporting the abuse, legal procedures can be followed to return them to work or receive payment for lost wages. Calls can be placed to the hotline anonymously also.

Is it against the law to fail to report suspected abuse/neglect?

Someone who does not report suspected abuse or neglect can be fined $1,000 and sentenced to spend six months in jail.  Any public education worker, hospital worker, psychologist, or others considered members of the health community who fail to report abuse can be terminated.

What happens after I make the call?

When a child is identified as at-risk or abused, an investigator from the Division of Child Protection and Permanency will investigate within 24 hours of receiving the report.

Contact a Child Abuse Lawyer serving Jersey Shore Communities Today

If you have been accused of child abuse or are facing child welfare allegations, you must seek legal representation as soon as possible.  At the Bronzino Law Firm, our team is equipped to take care of your case in a manner that is professional and experienced.

You are not alone. Call  (732) 812-3102 today for a confidential consultation about your case.  We are on your side.