Category: Child Visitation
Building Bridges between Parents & Parents and Children
Family Reunification Therapy is a Court-Ordered Intervention That Demands Family Members’ Commitment.
Divorce can put a family on its head, especially when it comes to children. Frequently the non-custodial parent feels excluded as the children don’t want to visit or stay with them according to the family plan. There is typically an impression by the children that the other parent is the reason for the divorce, or the children are not interested in seeing the non-custodial parent because they are resentful of the lack of time that has been spent with the non-custodial parent since the divorce. High conflict custody and divorce cases also pose a potential long-term challenge for an amicable family life functioning after the divorce has been finalized.
The Reunification Therapy Method in New Jersey
Reunification Therapy is a method used by a counselor to hold sessions with the children and both or one parent to build a bridge from the parent to the children and to facilitate cooperation among the parents as well. The counselor typically encourages all family members to receive individual therapy to process the group sessions. Group sessions should be light as they include the children. Role-play, games, association activities, and more are based on the children’s ages and comfort levels.
Programs could be long-term or short-term, and they are based partially on the family’s willingness to assimilate their unification as a whole. It is tough to find success when one or more family members are resistant to the process. Sometimes reunification therapy is court-ordered in family law matters, and some sessions require extended family participation, especially when an extended family member takes care of the children in a babysitting role.
The Reunification Therapy Process Main Goal
The goal of reunification theory is to bring the family together. It is a series of sessions where the parents encourage each other and the children to have positive relationships. Divorce can place a wedge between a mother or father and a child. Frequently, children blame one parent for the divorce and demonstrate hostility toward that parent. Also, sometimes dangerous circumstances are in one or both homes, such as illegal substances, mood-altering substances, unsafe visitors, or domestic violence. This provides the children with a platform to express their concerns regarding those matters.
Getting Ready For Your Reunification Therapy
The therapist will meet with each parent separately while discussing family plans, court orders, visitation, and parameters regarding screen time, junk food, and sports. The goal here is to get the parents on the same page and demonstrate a united front. It may not be easy, but it can help create a solid relationship. Frequently, the therapist will bring in specialists to help with the heavy psychological lifting. Sometimes the custodial parent is less than supportive but is supportive if the process shows progress. The beginning sessions will build trust between all of the family members. The children may negatively perceive a parent who has cheated as slick or untrustworthy, and therapy can possibly change that vision.
Therapist Role in Reunification Therapy Sessions
The therapist has to set up a plan and begin by working with the parents. All decisions are made for the family’s greater good as a neutral party. The therapist does not support the side of another parent. Their role is to offer sympathy to all family members and teach them a new way to treat one another. Time management of the sessions is up to the therapist. This could mean determining the length of each session and the participants for specific sessions. The therapist teaches the family how to express themselves and respond to other people’s negative emotions such as fear, anger, or frustration and processes them into manageable pieces. Parents are taught to react less and listen more. It is about building relationships and having the tools to maintain them, thereby creating a healthy family unit.
Besides the therapeutic section, the therapist will report to the court each family member’s progress (or lack thereof) and any refusal to cooperate or positive breakthroughs.
Expected Outcome of Reunification Therapy
Therapy results are different from one family to the next because the needs, emotions, expectations, and history are as unique as the family itself.
So what do successful results look like? Children have an open, honest, respectful relationship with both parents. They can express frustrations, joy, fear, academic concerns, insecurities, and even constructive criticism to the parents in a respectful manner where they are heard, and their message is received with maturity and an open mind.
Parents can express their concerns to one another and their children, keeping topics age-appropriate. Parents do not accuse each other of manipulating the children into favoring one over the other while supporting one another to follow the parenting plan. They avoid arguing, gaslighting, and alienating the other ex-spouse.
Results are fluid and can take weeks or months. Some families put up little resistance, while others have difficulty processing the necessary exercises. 20% of families that the court mandates are unsuccessful.
Reunification Therapy Cost and How It is Handled
Once the court has mandated the family for reunification therapy, the cost is shared between the parents, 50/50. There is a deposit of $500 before the sessions begin. A report at the end of the sessions for the court is prorated to provide payment for the court report, which is $200 hourly. Its cost Each 50-minute session is $160.00. There is another fee of $160 hourly for lawyers. The exact number of sessions or their length cannot be known because it varies based on the family’s enthusiasm, cooperation, and participation.
Questions about Reunification Therapy in Your Family Law Matter? Contact our Law Offices in Brick and Sea Girt NJ
Reunification Therapy can be a vital tool to keep your family together. The conflict between parents and children can set a harsh environment. Your lawyer can find a therapist and get them approved. The court will approve your therapist, and you could be on your way to a life-changing experience. Your family may leave with excellent communication tools, and perhaps you’ll be interacting better than ever.
Bronzino Law Firm is a family law practice with a focus on our clients. Our family lawyers are skilled in custody law and can help you resolve your unique legal challenges, address your needs, and answer your questions about family reunification therapy’s role in your case in Ocean Township, Toms River, Sea Bright, Lacey, Berkeley Township, Point Pleasant, Rumson, Wall, Mantoloking, Lakewood, Colts Neck, and other towns in Ocean and Monmouth Counties.
Call (732) 812-3102 for a free consultation or to schedule an appointment at our local office nearest you. We look forward to discussing your case, your family’s goals, and how best to create your future with your children.
It May Not Be a Good Idea Opting for a “Do It Yourself” Divorce
It’s Highly Recommended to Walk into Court with an Experienced Family Lawyer by Your Side
You and your spouse have talked things over and agreed that an amicable, quick divorce is best for the family. Your spouse has chosen a lawyer, and you, wanting to save some money, have decided to represent yourself. You can get all of the forms online and watch some how-to videos that will explain everything. Besides, you have already agreed to keep everything civil.
Divorce, like potato salad at a picnic, can go bad before you know it. Your spouse has someone protecting their rights and making the most strategic choices while you are struggling as you read your notes from the online information you have gathered and use all the legalese you have seen on tv or in the movies. It is not going to go well for you, and once the divorce is filed and signed by the judge, there are no do-overs. It is imperative to seek a professional divorce lawyer to protect your rights.
Options in Divorce Representation in NJ
Yes, you most certainly can. Should you choose to do so, there are some essential tips it would behoove you to keep in mind. If only a few issues have you and your spouse from getting a divorce, try mediation. A divorce mediator can help you straighten out the sticky wickets that are preventing you from moving on.
It is valuable to acknowledge whether you have the time to complete all the forms and file them at the specified times. Some people use document preparers who are brick and mortar locations or online. For an extra fee, document preparers will fill the documents for you with the court. The level of reliability of each business is subject to investigation, so do your homework.
If you and your spouse agree on property distribution, spousal support, custody, child support, and a parenting plan, you could be a candidate for a DIY divorce. Still, emotions often get high, and the agreements go out the window.
Legal Jargon Can Be an Issue in Self Representation
Just because you and your spouse appear to be on the same page regarding your divorce, that does not mean that a DIY divorce is a good idea. By doing the divorce yourself, you are liable to make hundreds of mistakes that commonly include calculating child support, a solid picture of assets and expenditures in the home, visitation, child custody, and more.
Everyone has a pretty good idea of the economics of their household, but the financial part of the divorce is not about good guesses. It is about gathering evidence and filling out a CIS (Case Information Statement), a detailed form that presents all of the financial information of the home. It is a complicated form and needs to be done carefully as it is an official court document. If your statement is miscalculated, it can change the number of assets and how much will be divided.
You and your spouse talked about you buying their share of the house or getting a new loan with only your name on the deed. Now your spouse wants to keep the house for the kids. According to the equitable distribution, the judge can make several decisions, such as selling the home and dividing the proceeds or one of you buying out the other and getting a new loan. But what happens if neither of you can get a new loan or other property issues arise?
Probably the most complicated part of divorce is when children are the topic. Before child support is talked about, a visitation schedule is established. This is more than a PowerPoint calendar with two different colors. The type of custody must be decided. When support is discussed, if an agreement cannot be reached, the judge will set an amount that may be higher than the non-custodial parent can pay.
Consider the Following Aspects Before Your Final Call
You are not a lawyer. You don’t know how to prepare documents, calculations, or witnesses (if need be). You are on a raft in the ocean without a paddle, you know where you want to get, but you haven’t the slightest notion of how to do it.
The discovery process can be a minefield. You and your spouse must exchange pertinent documents to outline the divorce agreement. Your spouse’s lawyer will know what information is protected because it is considered privileged; if your spouse does not want to release everything, you will have to file a subpoena to obtain what is missing (if you know what you are looking for.)
Maybe you don’t know what an equitable settlement is. If your neighbors got a divorce, and they have three children the same age as you and assets similar to yours, then what worked for them should probably work for you, right? Wrong. Every divorce is different. If you represent yourself, how will you approach the judge with the “But-it’s-not-fair” clause when their decision is far different from what you expected? You cannot use other people’s divorce results as a springboard for yours.
The most important reason you shouldn’t represent yourself in your divorce is perspective. You are too close to the situation and cannot see it clearly, try as you might. For as kind and amicable as you and your ex have been with one another, there are still deep feelings that could cause you to act with poor judgment. This is even more true when there are children involved. A lawyer is familiar with all of the child custody laws and can protect your rights and those of your children.
Thinking You Should Represent Yourself when Getting Divorced? Think Again. Contact Us for Help from a Seasoned Ocean NJ Divorce Lawyer
Divorces are frequently adversarial, and you need a knowledgeable divorce lawyer working with you to make sure your rights are protected and you are not taken advantage of. Your lawyer will investigate and obtain all the necessary documents and forms to represent you completely. They will represent you in court and keep you abreast of every step to be taken as well as being an expert negotiator.
In conclusion, CAN you represent yourself in your divorce? YES, you can. SHOULD you? If you are a divorce lawyer, maybe. If you aren’t, absolutely not. When you go to a restaurant, do you go back into the kitchen and cook your favorite dish? Of course not. You let the pro make your favorite meal and par for the privilege.
Is divorce expensive? Yes. Is your family’s future worth the expense? I would think so. The great Pres. Abraham Lincoln had something to say about this topic that hits the nail on the head, “…Every man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client.” At our firm, we have represented clients in Mantoloking, Jackson, Holmdel, Oakhurst, Brick, Ocean Township, Rumson, and across Ocean and Monmouth County.
If you are getting a divorce or know someone who is, Bronzino Law Firm has excellent divorce lawyers who, through experience, have been shown to be talented, astute, and, if need be, aggressive. Call us today at (732) 812-3102 or send us a message online to get a free consultation or make an appointment.
Critical Information You Can’t Miss to Defend Your Visitation Rights
Child Support and Visitation Rights Lawyers Providing Support in Little Silver, Lavallette, Toms River in Monmouth and Ocean Counties
There are few things about divorce that are easy, but one of the most difficult for ex-spouses to navigate interpersonally and emotionally is how their divorce will impact their kids. Issues around physical and legal custody of the child can be heart-wrenching for both parents, as everyone wants for their children’s best interests to be at the center of their world. In fact, the New Jersey Superior Court: Family part also places children’s best interests at the heart of any divorce settlement, and it affects everything from their judgments on child custody to visitation and child support. Read on to learn more about how visitation is determined in New Jersey child custody cases and how child support affects it.
Child’s Rights to Spend Time with Both Parents
New Jersey law considers it a child’s right to have a relationship with both parents. As such, the courts consider a child’s time with both of their parents paramount in any divorce and they will ensure that when a parent has been granted full custody, the other parent will receive as much visitation with the child as is appropriate and safe. Whatever the custodial arrangement, both parents will have fair visitation time with their child, as outlined in a parenting time agreement. New Jersey labels the custodial parent, one who the child spends over 72 percent of their time with, as the “parent of primary residence” (PPR). The non-custodial parent is called the “parent of alternative residence” (PAR) in New Jersey. Both have the right to spend quality time with their child if it is safe for the child.
Child support is court-ordered payment by the PAR to the PPR to help the child’s upbringing, and it is not directly related to visitation. However, a court may withdraw visitation rights if a parent does not make their ordered child support payments.
Delayed Support Payments and NJ Visitation Rights
It is not a parent’s prerogative to determine the visitation rights of a child outside of the court-ruled arrangement. As such, if a parent is late on their child support payments, it is the PPR’s duty to report late payments to the New Jersey Department of Human Services, the New Jersey child support payment agency.
Extreme Scenarios to Deny Visitation Rights to a Parent in New Jersey
The New Jersey Family Court is always going to hold the child’s best interests as their central pillar in child custody determinations. The court will generally award the non-custodial PAR either ‘reasonable visitation,’ ‘unsupervised visitation,’ or ‘supervised visitation’ with their child. In some cases, however, the court will deny the parent who does not receive sole custody visitation rights. This generally occurs in severe cases in which, due to a history of domestic violence or drug or alcohol addiction, the court deems the non-custodial parent to be an unsafe influence in the life of the child. This is reserved for extreme cases, as the court considers it a child’s right to have a relationship with both parents regardless of custody status.
What to Do if a Spouse Denies Visitation Rights in NJ
As the non-residential parent, it is your right to have visitation with your child if the court has awarded you reasonable, supervised, or unsupervised visitation. A PAR who has a court order and parenting time plan detailing the original agreement that has been denied may approach the court to hold the custodial parent in contempt. As a first step, you can contact your local authorities to enforce the court order or contact your New Jersey county’s child abduction response team.
If your visitation rights have been arbitrarily suspended in New Jersey, seek counsel from our Brick NJ Family and Custody Lawyers
If you have been denied visitation, a New Jersey family law attorney will ensure that you are granted your rights, both in your child’s best interests and your own. A court ruling that has denied visitation for safety issues due to your past can be revisited with the help of a family lawyer. Additionally, a parent who has been granted visitation by the Superior Court but has issues with the custodial parent following through with the parenting time agreement can rely on the preparation, education, and experience of a lawyer to file a motion in court to enforce the order and even change custodial designation.
If you have been denied visitation rights or your visitation is being withheld, our lawyers are exceptionally positioned to serve on behalf of your child and your best interests. At Bronzino Law Firm, we understand how important your relationship with your child is for their healthy development. We advocate for parents in child support and custody matters in Point Pleasant, Ocean Township, Middletown, Barnegat, Beach Haven, Rumson, and across Ocean and Monmouth County to fight for justice when it comes to custodial and visitation arrangements.
Contact (732) 812-3102 for a free consultation to discuss your particular case and the roads that we can assist you with taking to rectify the situation.
What to Know about Guardians ad Litem (GAL)
The best interest of the child is the supreme goal of a Guardian ad Litem, called upon in family law cases where custody and visitation issues exist.
In divorces, custody battles, and child protective services cases, decisions rest on the best interests of each child. Best interests include where and how a child thrives by meeting their security and development interests. Thus, the child’s education, healthcare, and safety needs weigh heavily in a court’s custody apportionment when parents have a contested custody or a department of child protection and permanency (DCPP) case. Often the court relies on a third party to represent the interests of children in disputes. As the voice of the children, the guardian ad litem (GAL) plays a critical role in the court’s decision.
At Bronzino Law Firm, our talented family lawyers provide support, guidance, and skillful representation in custody and parenting time disputes in Toms River, Jackson, Point Pleasant, Bayhead, Lacey, Brick, and towns in Monmouth and Ocean Counties. Contact our offices at (732) 812-3102 today to schedule an appointment or a free consultation to discuss what steps you can take to protect your rights in a guardian ad litem case and how our lawyers can help.
Characteristics of a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) in New Jersey
When you are fighting a highly contested battle for child custody, visitation, or parental rights, a guardian ad litem is a lawyer, mental health professional, or other suitable people who you will get to know. So, if you and your spouse are vying for primary custody in a divorce, the court has the authority to appoint a GAL, though they use this option sparingly. However, only lawyers can represent children whose parents face abuse and neglect accusations, as when the state threatens to terminate their parental rights (N.J.S.A. 30:4c-15.4). Known as law guardians, these lawyers speak for the children they represent, a mouthpiece for their desires and complaints, and advocate for their best interests (N.J.S.A 9:68.23). The court also appoints the law guardian.
Understanding the Role of the Guardian ad Litem (GAL)
Thus, when an evaluation of the parents is part of a divorce or custody dispute or a minor child is a party to the court action, the guardian ad litem determines and promotes the children’s best interests to the court. On the other hand, the legal guardian participates in court proceedings involving the dispute, including cross-examining witnesses and appealing court decisions. Whereas the legal guardian is the lawyer for the children, representing them as a party in a dispute, the GAL reports to the court what the children want and what other professionals recommend after an investigation and evaluation of the involved parties. The GAL must interview the children, parents, siblings, and other relevant parties to investigate and evaluate the child’s circumstances. They obtain documents, such as school, health, and police records about the family and hire experts like counselors, therapists, and lawyers for the children, if necessary and approved by the court. They also speak with lawyers for the parties.
Key Information Gathered by the Guardian ad Litem
The GAL’s investigation and evaluation are for informing the court of the child’s best interests. The GAL’s research, interviews, summaries, reports, and assessments are one component of the court’s overall determination of what constitutes “best interests,” including the relationship of each parent to the child, the relationship between the parents, the child’s relationship with their siblings or others in the household, and the safety and stability of the home. For example, looking at the parents, the court wants to see the parents are mentally and physically capable, able to communicate, and free of substance addiction and domestic violence incidences. In addition, the court examines their education, employment, and willingness to accept custody responsibilities.
Factors Considered by the NJ Family Courts
Each parent’s situation, their ability to reliably maintain a parenting schedule, the proximity of their residences, and the quality time each parent spent with their child before separation are factors for the court. In addition, the court considers the child’s age, needs, education, and preference if old enough (N.J.S.A. 9:2-4A). So, if one parent works nights and lives alone, they might not be able to meet the child’s or children’s safety needs. However, a court or lawyer may have a creative solution to address the overnights, perhaps awarding custody or visitation to the parent on their days off. A party may be willing to change jobs to gain custody. And if either parent abuses substances or has a history of driving after drinking alcohol, the court may consider that parent an unsafe parent. But typically, each parent’s situation or lifestyle may not best fulfill the child’s needs in some way or another, and an evaluation of all factors is necessary to determine where the child should live.
Importance of Having the Advice of a Family & Custody Lawyer when a Guardian ad Litem is Called in Your Case
When the court appoints a guardian ad litem or a party requests one, both parents should know what they do and what to expect. They should know the role of the guardian ad litem and how that involves each parent. Before an investigation begins, each parent must understand their interview answers become critical in a court’s custody and visitation decision. As such, a parent’s preparation is crucial to advancing their interests or, in the case of parent termination cases, to protect their parental rights. Hiring a family law attorney guarantees that a parent knows what questions a guardian ad litem might ask, how the interview affects the case’s outcome, and what evidence the parent might provide to enhance their position as a responsibly bonded parent to their child.
Get Representation from Point Pleasant Family and Custody Lawyers
Contact a family lawyer at the Bronzino Law Firm for advice and representation if you are in a contentious custody or visitation dispute with your co-parent. Our lawyers in our Brick and Sea Girt locations can prepare you for an evaluation and the court’s best interests criteria by highlighting your parental strengths and strong relationship with your child or children. We have years of experience identifying and presenting your most vital attributes and profile of a loving, responsible parent and willingness to do whatever it takes for your children. We can also recommend you take parenting classes, change your living situation, or make other changes to show the court your earnestness in gaining custody of your child if there are additional hurdles that need to be addressed. In a word, our family law and child custody lawyers can prepare you for the preparatory phase of the custody hearing and every aspect that comes after.
We can cross-examine witnesses and your co-parent at a custody hearing, defending your interests and deflecting accusations of parental neglect, disinterest, or inability to meet your child’s needs. A custody hearing is a trial that includes your testimony, your co-parent’s testimony, and that of the guardian ad litem and other experts who have counseled or treated your child. It takes legal prowess and long preparation to win a custody battle. Thus, hiring an expert family lawyer who regularly deals with guardians ad litem and their importance for your case is your best move. Call (732) 812-3102 or fill out our online intake form to get in contact with a family law attorney on our team for your custody case involving a guardian ad litem in Holmdel, Red Bank, Lakewood, Neptune, Freehold, Sea Bright, Bay Head, and across Monmouth County and Ocean County.
Learn How to Deal with Criminal Interference in Child Custody Cases in NJ
Abduction of children by their non-custodial parent is happening with more frequency in the United States. In fact, authorities find that more than 90% of child abductions are the deed of one of the parents.
One reason for the increase is that people from different countries are marrying each other more often, and the divorce rate for them, and for everyone, is very high. And if one parent changes his or her mind about the custody agreement, they may decide on their own to change the situation. As a consequence, more than 200,000 parents kidnap their children every year in the U.S. Though we may feel sympathy for the offending parent, what they’ve done is actually a crime with serious consequences. The people most hurt are the children themselves.
The act of kidnapping by a parent is not merely a custody issue. It’s a crime under NJ law. And no, the courts do not agree with the old saying that possession is nine-tenths of the law.
In this article, we’ll define parental kidnapping in New Jersey, the options a parent has who is afraid a kidnapping might occur, the legal consequences for the person convicted of it, and the viable defenses a person might have for doing it.
Delineating Parental Kidnapping Under New Jersey Law
According to the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice – Title 2C, Section 2C:13-4, passed in 2013, kidnapping by a parent is defined as interference with custody and includes:
1) Taking a child (a minor, that is) with the intent to hide him or her and thereby deprive the child’s other parent of custody and parenting time with him or her;
2) In the gap of time between becoming aware of an upcoming action or order affecting custody but prior to the action or order becoming official, a parent takes or hides the child, either in New Jersey or in another state, with the intent of depriving the other parent of custody and parenting time or to evade the ruling of the courts of New Jersey;
3) After a temporary or final restraining order that spells out custody rights, one parent takes or hides a child in violation of the order.
Absconding with a child to a foreign country with no intent of return is actually not a state crime but a federal crime, punishable with up to three years in prison, according to the U.S. Justice Department.
How Can I Protect My Child from Being Kidnapped by their Other Parent?
For some families, a restraining order may be what’s needed to keep a parent who presents a real threat from getting in the vicinity of the child. Or a comprehensive custody order might need to be in place to limit or even to deny the other parent’s visitation rights.
In both of these scenarios, the burden of proof is on the parent seeking to restrain the other parent from seeing the child. You will need a convincing body of evidence to persuade a judge that there should be close restrictions on visitation, or no visitation at all, to protect the child. Judges are reluctant to keep a child from seeing both parents. If necessary, our lawyers can help you gather the right evidence.
Legal Ramifications of Kidnapping my Child in NJ
A person convicted of parental kidnapping can be charged with a third degree crime or a second degree crime in New Jersey, depending on the circumstances of the case. For a second degree crime, applicable to taking a child outside of the U.S. for more than 24 hours, a defendant may be forced to pay a fine of as much as $150,000 and to spend time in prison, specifically between 5 and 10 years. In cases involving criminal interference with custody that occurs in the United States, the charge is considered a third degree crime and thus, subject to a prison term ranging from 3 to 5 years. As an important aside, even a third degree crime for violating N.J.S.A. 2C:13-4 does not benefit from the presumption of non-incarceration that other third degree offenses typically have attached.
Viable Defense Options if you are Accused of Kidnapping Your Child in New Jersey
You and your lawyer will need to prove clearly and convincingly that:
- You truly believed that the abduction was necessary to protect the child from abuse and danger. However, you will have no defense if you did not notify authorities within 24 hours, either the police of the town your child lived in, or the county prosecutor’s office in the county your child lived in, or the Division of Child Protection and Permanency in the New Jersey Department of Children and Families.
- You reasonably believed that the other parent, or a state agency with authority, had consented to taking or detaining the minor child.
- The child is age 14 or older and was taken with his or her own volition, with no intent on the parent’s part to commit a criminal offense either with or against the child.
In a Parental Kidnapping Case, it’s Critical to Seek Legal Representation from a Firm Well-Versed in Both Family and Criminal Law in Monmouth and Ocean County, NJ
There are a number of factors that go into an indictment for parental kidnapping. The Bronzino Law Firm has in-depth knowledge of all the factors that have to be proven in order to prosecute someone charged with parental kidnapping successfully. To avert kidnapping from ever happening, talk to us about custody agreements and restraining orders. Get in contact with our firm, and we’ll discuss your options with you if you’re concerned about a kidnapping happening.
Our lawyers can also use our expansive defense experience to defend a parent accused of kidnapping. In the past, we have made such convincing cases for defendants that sentences have been reduced or dismissed. If you’ve been arrested for parental kidnapping, you will need an expert criminal defense lawyer to present your case in court. Don’t ever talk about the incident without a lawyer present. If and when the police question you, politely refuse to answer and ask for your attorney. Bronzino Law Firm will discuss your options with you if you’re in this predicament.
If you are involved in a parental kidnapping or interference with custody case in Manasquan, Sea Girt, Jackson, Belmar, Marlboro, Beach Haven, Tinton Falls, Toms River, and nearby towns in Ocean and Monmouth Counties, contact us at (732) 812-3102 to connect with one of our lawyers, who will listen to your case, explain the process, and how we can help you.
Navigate the Process of Becoming a Kinship Guardian in Ocean County NJ
Becoming a kinship guardian can mark one of the most beautiful opportunities in your life. Nonetheless, these miraculous and life-changing opportunities can become complicated, confused, and a source of legal troubles.
Adoption and parenthood can present a multitude of challenges, requiring extensive legal knowledge of the rights and responsibilities, the differences in guardianship types, and more. Due to the sensitive nature of kinship legal guardianship in New Jersey, it is imperative to work with a qualified attorney throughout the process.
What Does Kinship Legal Guardianship Refer to in New Jersey?
Kinship legal guardianship refers to situations where a relative or other person becomes the long-term legal guardian for a child. Courts appoint a close family friend, relative, or another adult tasked with caring for the child if parents are unable to.
With kinship legal guardianship, a caregiver can be appointed to care for a child. The parents may lose custody and have difficulty regaining custody once it has been lost. The caregiver assumes most responsibility for the child. Parents can still have contact, attempt to resume custody, or oppose a court action by the caregiver.
Neither birth nor adoptive parents will have legal custody of their child if a court grants kinship legal guardianship to a caregiver. However, they still have the power to consent to an adoption or a name change, the obligation to pay child support, and the right to visit their child. Children can still legally visit siblings and extended family, with approval from the court or the kinship legal guardian. Children can also still inherit from their birth or adoptive parents and receive insurance or government benefits through them.
NJ Prerequisites to Become a Caregiver
Caregivers do not have to be related to a child in order to obtain kinship legal guardianship. The program is available to those who have legal relationships with children within their care and family friends. Foster parents can also apply for the same title.
Caregivers are eligible for kinship legal guardianship if a child has been living with the caregiver for a minimum of 12 months if the parents are incapacitated or otherwise unable to take care of their child if the caregiver is related to the child, the caregiver has the financial means to provide for the child and if the caregiver can prove to the court that it is in the best interest of the child to remain with them.
What are the Rights and Responsibilities of Kinship Legal Guardians?
Caregivers can request that courts appoint them the kinship legal guardian for a child living in their home if the child’s birth parents are unable to care for the child in question. Once granted kinship legal guardianship, a caregiver has the same rights and responsibilities as a birth parent, which extends to decisions regarding the childcare, consent for medical treatment, plans for the child’s education, services for the child, and the responsibility of guaranteeing their child’s well-being and overall safety. The Kinship Navigator Program can provide further insight into the rights and responsibilities of guardians.
Difference Between Adoption, Kinship Legal Guardianship, and Guardianship
New Jersey adoption brings with it complicated legal requirements to determine the type of adoption, primarily open or closed. Such determination can facilitate or prohibit updates exchanged with birth parents and visitation and even discussion of parentage. Legal adoption requires the parental rights of birth parents to be terminated. Stepparents looking to adopt younger members of their combined family must first remove legal rights from the birth father before adopting the child.
Kinship legal guardianship does not terminate parents’ rights allowing birth parents to seek visitation and remain financially responsible for the child.
Once appointed, a kinship legal guardian is responsible for the child until they turn 18. The court can end the guardianship before this benchmark if it is in the child’s best interest, if the parents are now able to care for their child, or if the legal guardian is no longer able to care for the child. To do so requires a motion filed with the court, after which a hearing is held to determine whether the guardianship should conclude. Parents who want to regain custody must prove that the circumstances which resulted in the guardianship are no longer and the parent is now willing and able.
Kinship legal guardians can capitalize on state-funded financial aid to cover the cost of caring for children such as nephews, nieces, or grandchildren. Moreover, caregivers are eligible if they have cared for a child over the last 12 months with legal status as kinship legal guardianship.
Contact a Brick NJ Kinship Legal Guardianship Attorney Today
Given the delicate nature of kinship legal guardianship, families and family friends cannot afford minor mistakes at the risk of the child’s well-being. Appropriate legal counsel can help navigate through this process, which is why talking to an experienced lawyer about your case is such a critical decision. An attorney can help assess situations for kinship legal guardianship versus adoption, facilitate appropriate legal paperwork and court hearings for kinship legal guardianship, and provide legal guidance to facilitate applications for state-funded financial aid and regaining custody of children.
At Bronzino Law Firm, our team of Family Law Attorneys has vast knowledge in the area of kinship legal guardianship, child abuse and neglect, child custody disputes, and more. Having helped clients in Sea Girt, Holmdel, Point Pleasant, Middletown, Toms River, Lakewood, and across Ocean and Monmouth Counties, we are ready and willing to do what it takes to best serve your needs and the needs of the child you care so much about.
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.
Usually, 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.
The 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.
The Rise of Platonic Parenting in New Jersey
Science has progressed in such a way that the possibilities to have a family are dizzying and have opened the door to the phenomenon of platonic parents.
The 1950’s image of a traditional family, man, and woman in a monogamous relationship, having children after marriage, has become only one of many different kinds of families. Now more than ever having a family does not necessarily follow marriage. Some couples prefer adoption in lieu of pregnancy, while others have their biological children and adopt more. For infertile couples, the option of surrogacy or IVF treatments opens the way for them to start a family. Even the family members have strayed from the “traditional” pattern. Heterosexual couples who choose not to get married, same-sex couples who get married and want children, a single man or woman who wants children without a partner and uses a sperm or egg donor.
What is Platonic Parenting?
Platonic parenting is a relationship between two people who want to have children without romantically getting involved with each other. These couples can be composed of friends, strangers, former coworkers, or acquaintances. Platonic parenting is especially popular in the LGBTQIA community. Some heterosexual couples opt for natural insemination even though they aren’t a couple in the romantic sense because other methods are prohibitively expensive. Gay and lesbian couples typically choose IVF, surrogacy, artificial insemination, or adoption. When sexual chemistry and a physical relationship are no longer factors, the child becomes the focus rather than the couple.
What are the Advantages of Platonic Parenting?
For many people who choose platonic co-parenting, a failed marriage or long-term relationship is in their close past, and as they didn’t have children with their now-ex-spouse, the biological clock is ticking. Perhaps they don’t want to be a part of another romantic relationship. Maybe their last one caused a lot of emotional traumas that they are just not willing to go through again. Sometimes married couples want their surrogate or the biological parents of an adoptive child to be a part of the family. These are basically strangers who would be parenting with them. Whatever the reason it is vital that all of the parties involved create an agreement regarding the raising of the child.
Developing a Platonic Parenting Agreement in NJ
The couple should have discussed the items before sitting down with an attorney and creating an agreement. Also, the smaller details such as, ”Do you have a good relationship with your parents?”, “Do you like your job?”, What do you do in your free time?”, “What are your religious beliefs?” and many others. This is not someone with whom a team science project is being done. It is a life-long investment in a relationship to raise a child cooperatively.
Examples of the items to include in the agreement are listed here:
- Who will attend the birth/prenatal appointments.
- The eventual explanation to the child of their relationship and conception
- Religious practices (if any)
- Child-rearing techniques and the use of a babysitter/nanny
- Who will make the medical decisions
- The child’s name
- Decisions about vaccines
- Visitations, holidays, and vacations
- Education, who will attend teacher’s meetings
- Financial responsibilities of each parent.
Many others can be added based on the concerns of the couple.
Platonic Parenting Pitfalls
No relationship is perfect. If we consider that a married couple is joined by their love for one another, a platonic couple’s strongest bond is their child. There may be jealousy issues when the platonic parents begin to see someone romantically. Maybe a romantic relationship leads to a move to another town or city. Sometimes one parent demonstrates a romantic interest in the other that is unrequited, and resentment builds. It is one thing to make an agreement, but when the rubber meets the road and decisions need to be made in the moment of discipline and education, there can often be discord. If one parent lives in a separate dwelling, finances can be strained and previous agreements of who would pay what and when they would pay it simply aren’t a possibility.
How To Make It Work
Making a platonic parenting relationship is hard work and very similar to a traditional parenting relationship. Communication is the key: expressing expectations, discussing concerns, being kind and thoughtful, being careful with what is said or texted. It is about expressing one’s concerns, fears, and anger maturely, keeping in mind the child is the focus of the relationship. Frequently discussing personal and family goals as well as checking in about the roles each parent should play are great ways to communicate. Respecting each other, whether it be a right to privacy, a romantic relationship, or social life, and avoiding jealousy or snarky remarks about the people with whom the parent chooses to go out.
Considering a Platonic Parenting Relationship? A Family Law Attorney in Brick NJ Can Guide You
There is a wide range of instances in which a lawyer can be of great help. First, they can help create the parenting agreement, which lists the roles and responsibilities of both parents along with other details. If there is difficulty getting both sides to agree, a lawyer can facilitate a mediator or a round table to hammer out the sticking points. If the parents decide to uncouple, visitation, support, custody issues, etc., will need to be worked out with an attorney.
There is a lot of planning and talking that goes into an agreement like this. Starting a family is a major step, and you want to do it in the best way possible. Now is a great time to get the ball rolling because the process will take some time. At our offices, we will more than happy to guide you in the entire process, if you live in Holmdel, Colts Neck, Rumson, Little Silver, or any other place across Monmouth and Ocean Counties, do not hesitate to get in contact with us.
At Bronzino Law Firm, LCC, our knowledgeable team wants to help your dream to have a family become a reality. We are here to walk you through this process and any challenge that may arise from beginning to end.
Contact us online or give us a call at (732) 812-3102.
How to Prove a Parent Unfit in a Divorce Case in New Jersey
Divorce is a tough decision to make and having children involved, the complexity becomes even harder to manage.
Divorce is no easy task. Even when separating spouses have an amicable relationship, emotional energies can reach explosive levels due to the many stresses that a divorce proceeding invokes. When children are involved, these conflicts between spouses can reach a whole new level. When parents cannot agree on a custody arrangement, and each is seeking sole or primary custody, their tactics for trying to prove that they are the right to fight for their children can include some downright nasty allegations against the other spouse.
In some cases, these allegations are simply the result of a battle for custody. In other cases, however, a spouse really is unfit to care for the children. If you’re trying to prove that it is not safe for your children to spend time with your ex, and they are unfit to care for your children and should have restricted visitation rights or none at all, contact our divorce and family law firm to learn how we can help protect your family.
What is the definition of an unfit parent in NJ?
According to New Jersey law, an unfit parent is someone who is unable to create a safe and nurturing environment for a child. This could look like a variety of different things: a parent who fails to properly protect and maintain the child, as well as to ensure that their educational needs are met, could be determined by the court to be unfit to care for the child. Another hallmark of a parent who is unfit to provide safety and nourishment for their child is one who engages in dangerous or reckless behavior that could endanger the child, such as someone who abuses drugs or alcohol or someone who has a history of violence in the home. Such a person could lose their custodial or parenting time agreement rights to visitation.
What constitutes an unfit parent in New Jersey?
A New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part judge will review a case against a parent alleged of being unfit to have visitation or custodial rights in a custody hearing. The judge will look for evidence that the parent has created physical, emotional, and psychological harm for the child.
This could include a parent who has:
- displayed dangerous behavior, either directly endangering the child or proving such behavior as habitual in or around the home;
- continuously struggled with alcohol and drug abuse;
- displayed mental health issues, either through examinations conducted in service of the child custody hearing, or prior;
- committed acts of domestic violence against the children or their ex-spouse;
- placed their child in danger by means of neglect.
How do you prove a parent unfit in Ocean County, NJ?
Proving that your ex-spouse is unfit to care for or visit your child is very difficult to do. This is because it is the New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part’s primary focus to keep the well-being of involved children at the center of all custody hearings. And, the Court considers that it is in a child’s best interest to spend time with both parents. As such, in order to prove that a parent is unfit, you must show that your child was harmed by the behavior of your ex-spouse, and it is, therefore, the child’s best interest to not interact with your ex.
In order to prove that your ex is an unfit parent, you will need to gather substantial proof. This could come in the form of documentation such as social media posts and photos that display reckless behavior, court records showing prior legal trouble as well as prior domestic violence claims, medical records evidencing substance abuse, documentation from your child’s school in which they have been reviewed by a school psychologist, and other New Jersey documentation.
You can also document behaviors that show potential for harm for the child. In 2019, the New Jersey Department of Children and Families updated its system for identifying and reporting child abuse. The “Allegation-Based System” can be drawn from to prove that a parent is unfit to have custodial access or visitation rights to a child. The fifteen factors for determining whether a parent is causing harm to a child and is therefore unfit to enjoy basic parenting time agreement rights are reasonably straightforward. In some cases, the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) will become involved, since they are required to initiate an investigation after receiving any report of child abuse or neglect.
Seek the advice of a Family Law attorney to help you make wise decisions for you and your children’s best interest in Brick, NJ
It is highly advisable to consult with a well-versed attorney who regularly handles New Jersey family law and child custody issues to ensure you have strong foundations for your case. When you retain one of the attorneys at Bronzino Law Firm, LLC., you know you can count on a professional who will walk by your side every step of the way. Moving through the law and all of its implications requires knowledge and experience that our attorneys have at your service.
Contact us online or call us today at (732) 812-3102 and allow us to help you in these troublesome times. We are ready to serve your needs as we often do for clients in Howell, Toms River, Manchester, Jackson, Lacey, Point Pleasant, Neptune, and Wall. You can also schedule an appointment to visit our offices in Brick and Sea Girt for a free consultation.
Learn what the Parent Education Course is in New Jersey and its Role in Your Divorce
Fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce, and as unpleasant as it seems, the fact is divorce is as prevalent now as it has ever been. If you are going through a divorce that includes issues of visitation time, child support, or child custody, the courts in the State of New Jersey require that both parents take an education program to help them understand and meet their children’s needs in this highly stressful time. Completion must be proven and accepted before the court will issue a divorce decree.
If a parent doesn’t appear at the in-person version of the course or fails to finish the online version, the court will be notified, and the parent must give a reason for the absence.
As your children go with you through the emotionally difficult periods of separation and divorce, they will need extra care and support. This education program helps you provide that care and support, and it also helps parents build a healthy, beneficial co-parenting method and relationship.
The course’s official name is the New Jersey Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course, often referred to as the Parent’s Education Program, divorce parenting classes, the parent’s education course or seminar, and similar monikers. It was established by law through the New Jersey Parent’s Education Act, N.J.S.A. § 2A:34-12.1 – § 2A:34-12.8.
As we mentioned, the course is mandatory in divorce cases in New Jersey. But even if it weren’t required, it would be wise to enroll in the class because it will help your family considerably as you shepherd your children through separation and divorce. Also, it will give you and your children practical, lifelong skills.
What Topics Does the Parent’s Education Seminar Cover in NJ?
The thought of being required to take a course on parenting may feel burdensome during all the upheaval you’re going through with a separation and divorce. But you’ll find the course material to be highly relevant to your current situation, and it will provide parenting guidelines that will bring you and your children benefits for years to come.
The seminar offers strategies to prepare your family for the changes that are upcoming or already in the works. It gives helpful pointers on coping with the emotional stress you and your family are experiencing. It provides valuable tips on long-term divorce issues, such as how to co-parent after divorce and how to manage blending families in the event best you remarry.
In other words, this course helps you be the best possible parent during the divorce process and for a lifetime.
The seminar has nine sections that include the following topics:
- Divorce is a difficult loss
- Parenting is forever, and how to share the parenting
- How children develop throughout childhood and adolescence
- How to communicate with your children during the divorce
- How to communicate with the other parent
- How to manage time for parenting
- Resources for the future
The seminar’s other topic is the mediation of your divorce settlement, which is an alternative process to the more traditional litigation route.
Choosing the Parenting Course Provider in Ocean County
You will want to choose a parenting course approved by the State of New Jersey and that provides a certificate that will be accepted by all New Jersey courts that permit distance learning.
When searching for a course, you may need to search under related names:
- Children coping with separation and divorce
- Children in transition
- Parenting during divorce
- Reducing domestic conflict during divorce
- Parents avoiding conflict during divorce
- How to cope with divorce and separation
What is the Time Requirement?
The Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course can be completed entirely online. You do not need to physically drive to the course or visit a staff member in an office. The course is structured in time allotments of four, eight, twelve, or sixteen hours. Within the online course is a timer that keeps track of the time you spend on the course. You can stop and start as much as you need to, and your work will be saved.
Obtaining a Certificate that Proves Completion
When you complete the course, the software will instantly generate a certificate of completion and email it to you. You can forward the email with the certificate attached to the party that required you to complete the Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course.
Look for a school that guarantees that the certificate of completion will be accepted by New Jersey courts or that, if it is not accepted, will provide a refund of the fee.
With a bit of searching, you will be able to find a course that charges only a minimal fee, perhaps only a book fee of $20 or so.
Get in Touch with our Family and Divorce Team of Attorneys for a free consultation today
At Bronzino Law, we are tried and true professionals committed to helping families through the difficult transitions of separation and divorce. We provide our legal services and representation in places like Barnegat Light, Allenhurst, Bay Head, Asbury Park, Point Pleasant, and nearby Ocean and Monmouth Counties communities.
As a Family Law Firm, we highly encourage active participation in these types of parenting education programs and we can advise and assist you with making sure you complete the mandatory requirements during your divorce process.. Going through a divorce is not easy for the spouses, plus it may significantly affect the kids involved. The more information you have, the better the process will be for you and your children. We apply this in our day-to-day engagement with our clients, offering as much information as we can to make what seems confusing, more understandable.