Category: Co-parenting

Building Bridges between Parents & Parents and Children

Family Reunification Therapy is a Court-Ordered Intervention That Demands Family Members’ Commitment.

NJ Family Court Ordered Reunification Therapy

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

What to Expect for Family Reunification Therapy in Monmouth NJTherapy 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.

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.

Guardian ad Litem Intervention in NJ Custody BattlesIn 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

Key Information Gathered by a Guardian ad Litem in NJWhen 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.

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.

You Were Partners in Life, Can You be Partners in Parenting?

Co-parenting isn’t about you and your former partner; it is about creating the best atmosphere possible for the health and well-being of the children you share. Consider these things when seeking to create your mutually beneficial parental partnership in New Jersey.

If 50% of marriages end in divorce, many divorced couples co-parent. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a fourth of all children live with one parent. Successful co-parenting implies a partnership, and even if you are divorced, your child’s emotional and psychological welfare depends upon you and your ex’s ability to co-parent in a way that is at least civil and, at best amicable.

Characteristics of Healthy Co-Parenting

Handling Healthy Co-Parenting in NJParenting is a tough job that becomes even more challenging when there is a divorce. Parents should see each other as partners even though they are no longer a couple. The parenting plan agreed upon with the divorce should be followed closely. It is healthy for children to share time with both parents. The kids have to come first. A healthy sign of co-parenting is seeing both parents attend sports events, plays, or recitals without making a scene.

In a healthy relationship, parents agree; they have each other’s back. The theory of divide and conquer was never more accurate than in co-parenting. Setting equal boundaries for children such as bedtimes and screen time on a united front provides stability.

In a healthy co-parenting relationship, there is flexibility. Sometimes extended families have activities that don’t necessarily fit into the family plan, or some family comes to visit from out of town. Having flexibility shows a willingness to compromise.

One of the critical components of this relationship is respect. No one speaks ill of the other, not the parents, not the children. Children hear, see, and imitate their parents’ behavior. Co-parents in a healthy relationship respect each other’s time, resources, and ideas.

Communication is probably the most significant factor in having a healthy co-parenting relationship. Parents need to communicate with one another, and the children should have access to either parent regardless of with whom they are residing at the time.

Working on a Healthy Co-Parenting Relationship in NJ

Experts provide pages and pages of advice to divorced couples who want to avoid the toxicity frequently found between parents after their divorce. Here is what some of them have to say. First, show each other respect and civility. If one rule had to be chosen, this would be the one. Do not insult one another in person, on the phone, in texts, when talking with family or friends, teachers or coaches, no one. Your children love both of you, and to hear you speak ill of someone they love is heartbreaking. Do not argue with your ex and not in front of the children if you must. Don’t interview your children after they visit your ex. They will want to make you happy but don’t want to betray the other parent by divulging information they are supposed to keep secret.

Importance of Creating a Healthy Environment For the Children

Children learn how to treat others by watching the people around them. Respect is of the utmost importance in all families, not just those affected by divorce. Children who watch their divorced parents speak to one another civilly, coordinate plans for the coming week, discuss or even disagree politely will learn to do the same. There is security and a sense of safety when parents avoid aggression by demonstrating a willingness to put their children’s needs first. This attitude can later be applied in the children’s lives when compromise is needed. It teaches them to get along with someone even when they don’t agree on everything.

Talking about feelings, holding space for all of the emotions children have, and allowing them to talk about them free of judgment or sarcasm is crucial to their emotional and psychological development. They need to be heard on their terms to develop a confident sense of self. The best environment to provide for them is where both parents are open and willing to listen. Another cornerstone in your relationship with your ex is compromised. Try to keep an open mind and pick your battles. Is that extra Saturday every three months the hill you want to die on? Put things in perspective and focus on the primary goal:  happy, healthy children.

Secure a Healthy Setting For Yourself

Divorce can take a toll on the health and wellness of everyone involved. If you want to create a healthy surrounding for your children, it is essential to take care of yourself. You will never be able to move on with your new life if you don’t try new things. Book clubs, exercise classes (Cross Fit, yoga) can put you in a group atmosphere where you can socialize and stretch those “meeting people muscles.”  Seeking companionship (platonic or otherwise) is a great way to keep you emotionally healthy. Constructing a healthy space makes coming home something special every day. Even on a budget, adding some pillows here or painting an accent wall there can perk you up and keep you moving. Showing your children that life will continue is the best reason to take care of yourself.

Influence of an Unhealthy Relationship on the Children

Co-parenting and Family Lawyers in Monmouth, NJWhen co-parents are constantly at war, their children feel insecure, frightened, and even angry. When there are fights, often, children feel the need to choose a side to please the parent they have picked as the favorite. Children are sponges and absorb everything they see and hear, so when parents disrespect one another by insulting or yelling, it can be traumatic for them. Discussions about back child support, reimbursements for medical or dental appointments can give them the sense that money is scarce. Even if it is, that isn’t something they should be listening to. When children watch their parents fight, they think they are the reason their parents split up in the first place. They carry tremendous guilt, and this unhealthy relationship can cause resentment, hostility, and rebelliousness toward either parent or both.

How Can An Unhealthy Relationship Affect You?

First and foremost, scientists have directly linked the amount of stress a person has and their immune system. A never-ending cycle of colds, flu, stomach viruses, etc., can affect your work and home life, making you unable to function at anything more than the bare minimum. Depression and grief are expected, and getting professional help can slowly help you turn things around. Still, a toxic relationship with your ex will hinder your ability to connect with your family. Stress can affect your appetite and lead you to binge eating or eating very little. The routines you had of exercising, playing with your children, taking time to go to the movies, or having drinks with friends, are all pushed by the wayside, and you isolate yourself. This is a dangerous space to be in emotionally, and seeking the advice of a therapist is a necessary first step.

Contact a Family Lawyer to Help You Build A Good Co-Parenting Foundation in Middletown, Wall, Point Pleasant, and Mantoloking NJ

A divorce is never easy, and when managing the decision-making needed to protect your children can be frustrating when you and your ex cannot agree on much. It is helpful to have someone in your corner to guide you through the process of settlement, a parenting plan, and financial support for the spouse and children.

The first step you should take is to meet with your spouse and your lawyers to make a parenting plan with visitation dates and times clearly worked out, including holidays and vacations. Lawyers, like the ones at the Bronzino Law Firm, are superb negotiators and can help you build a parenting plan for your situation. Sometimes divorce brings out the absolute worst in people. There is hurt, anger, sadness, and fear. The family law professionals at the Bronzino Law Firm are compassionate, good listeners, capable of taking care of your and your children’s rights.

Let us show you the most effective strategies to complete your divorce as healthy as possible for your family. Call us at(732) 812-3102 or contact us online for your free confidential consultation. Our experienced lawyers provide service in Little Egg Harbor, Beach Haven, Manchester, Colts Neck, Belmar, Point Pleasant, Tinton Falls, and towns throughout Monmouth and Ocean County. Let our knowledge and experience provide you with the support you need most at this time.

Family Lawyers Discuss Steps to Secure Your Child’s Best Interest When Transitioning to a Second Home After Divorce in Middletown, NJ

A Child Calling Two Places Home? It’s Possible. Here’s How.

Helping a Child Transition to a Second Home After Divorce in New JerseyThe transition for a child from a two-parent home to two one-parent homes can, understandably, be difficult and emotional for a child. In addition to getting used to shifting family dynamics, there are new environments and communities to navigate. All of this can be overwhelming for a child. For this reason, a divorcing couple with children must take special care to work as a team to support the child’s transition experience.

Creating a Positive Environment for the Kids After Divorce in NJ

The key to creating a positive environment for children after divorce is co-parent communication and collaboration. Moving from one home to two homes is hard enough for a child; conflict between parents adds an unnecessary stressor for them. Through a little planning, collective effort, and organization, co-parents can create a stable transition for their child that honors the child’s needs for consistency and participation in their changing life. Read on to learn specific tips for supporting your child through this time.

Essential Tips Parents Can Follow to Support Their Children in the One to Two-Home Transition

Have you ever felt the disconcerting feeling of walking through a dark space? You must continue forward, but you don’t know what to expect around you or whether there is danger at the next turn, leaving you in a constant state of uneasiness. This is one of the main feelings a child experiences when moving to a second home due to their parents’ divorce. They are unfamiliar with the home itself, the new school and community, and even with how the relationship with their parent will continue in this new reality. For this reason, supporting your child through this transition stage into two homes revolves around creating transparency and consistency.

Just like walking through a dark room, a child experiencing a post-divorce home transition will likely feel unsafe in the face of uncertainty. So, involving the child in as many of the transitional plans as possible is crucial for their sense of security. Inviting the child to help select furniture for the living room and their bedroom, inviting their new teacher and some neighbors or classmates over for a getting-to-know-you luncheon in their own (new) backyard, and creating a calendar of parenting time for them to keep track of their movements will all make the child feel more secure in their new reality.

Co-parents can also work together to create a sense of fluidity between separate-home experiences. For example, they can each agree to read to the child before bed, so the child can always count on that nighttime ritual, as well as agree on other daily routines that will occur in both households. Because a child is highly sensitive to stimuli and susceptible to an aggravated nervous system during this time, co-parents can decide on a calming scent such as lavender or rose geranium and each has candles or essential oil diffusers in the home to emanate that comforting and familiar smell.

Smoothing out the Split for a Child’s Adjustment to Multiple Homes

Divorce & Child Custody Lawyers in Ocean County, NJJust as the New Jersey Family Courts who oversee divorce and custody cases hold as their central pillar for action the best interests of the child, co-parents transitioning into life after divorce with their young ones would hold their child’s best interests as paramount to their decision-making. Far and away the most supportive way a parent can consider the child’s best interests in the transition to a two-home living situation is maintaining a sense of collaboration, respect, and consistency between the two parents and two homes.

If there is a conflict between parents, it should be addressed outside of the presence of the child; a child is not a pawn with which any parental conflict is played out. Do not put the child in the middle, and similarly, include the child in the expectation that one parent will not be pitted against the other so that the child gets what they want in a situation. Set up clear household rules for each home as well as shared guidelines and routines for both. Set a clear expectation with the child that what one parent says goes: the other parent will respect their co-parent’s good judgment and will trust consideration of the child’s best interests in their decision-making; as such, they will not undermine the other’s decisions.

Contact a Talented Brick Divorce & Child Custody Lawyer for Help Preparing for a Successful Split

A family lawyer can be invaluable support for the process of transition between one home to two homes and the enforcement of parenting time agreements and custody arrangements. If one parent is not respecting the court-enforceable agreements laid out in the divorce settlement, a family law attorney can advise the other in the best way to move forward with enforcement. In the best interests of the child, a skilled family law attorney will provide detailed advice regarding how to come to a mediated solution with the co-parent that maintains peace in the homes and consistency for the child. They will also be prepared to ensure that, for the child’s best interests, the custody arrangement and parenting time agreements are upheld by taking additional measures swiftly if necessary.

A skilled family law attorney is an important ally in the divorce transition process. Are you separating and have children? We successfully support divorcees across Manalapan, Rumson, Howell, Toms River, Freehold, Holmdel, Point Pleasant, Middletown, and towns throughout Monmouth and Ocean County to ensure that their family’s transition into a two-home situation is conflict-free.

At Bronzino Law Firm, we understand how important it is to maintain consistency for your child in big transitions. Contact us at (732) 812-3102 or through our online contact form for a free consultation to discuss your divorce.

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.

Parental Kidnapping in New JerseyOne 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

Criminal & Family Law Lawyers Handling Parental Kidnapping in Ocean and Monmouth County, NJYou 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.

Team of Attorneys Helps You Understand How Religion and Divorce are Handled in Monmouth and Ocean County, NJ

Determining a custody arrangement that works in the best interests of the child is a balancing act.

Divorce, Child Custody Arrangements, and Religion in New Jersey: What You Need to KnowDivorce is not easy, mentally, emotionally, relationally, nor financially. When you add kids to the mix, it’s even less so.  In divorce cases, the New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part holds the wellbeing of any children involved in the divorce as its integral pillar. Determinations regarding residential and legal custody for the child are made with this goal at the center. While there are many elements to negotiate in a divorce and child custody hearing, religion can be one that creates quite a bit of conflict among parents. When divorcing parents observe different religions, there are often questions about how the children will be raised. Withstanding this conflict can create socio-emotional distress for children that can be long-lasting. Read on to learn more about how religion is handled in New Jersey divorce and how parents can work together to develop an agreement that honors each parent’s religious choice while keeping the child’s stability at heart.

Does a mother usually gain custody in a Rumson divorce?

A New Jersey Superior Court’s determination of child custody is entirely gender-neutral, which includes a child’s primary residential parent and their legal guardianship. This means that a child’s mother or father could become the child’s primary residential (custodial) parent and their legal guardian, depending on the specifics of their relationship to the child and their health within society. In the same way, a parent’s religion has no bearing on whether they will be awarded child custody or not.

What role can religion play in a child custody decision?

Because the Superior Court views a child’s best interest as the central facet of any child custody agreement, and it considers a child’s relationship with both parents to be the ideal scenario in a custody arrangement, it will encourage joint custody arrangements. So what does this mean for religious context when each parent practices a different religion, and the child spends a fairly equal amount of time in each parent’s care?

Can a parent choose a child’s religion? How does the Parent of Primary Residence affect a child’s religious upbringing?

In a custody arrangement, one parent is named the Parent of Primary Residence (PPR), or the primary custodial parent. This means that the child spends the majority of their time/nights at this parent’s home. The other parent is named the Parent of Alternate Residence (PAR). In custody agreements in which both parents spend an equal share of time with the child, the PPR is the parent with whom the child stays when they go o school.

According to New Jersey law, the PPR determines the religious study of the child. While the non-custodial parent (PAR) may introduce the child to other religions, they may not teach them in a separate religion. As such, the PPR is legally entitled to choose the religion that will be observed by the child. This gives the PPR an advantage in the religious upbringing of their child. Regardless of what religion the family observed while they were still a family unit (the religion that the child, therefore, practiced), the Parent of Primary Residence can determine what religion the child will be educated in upon divorce.

Can this issue be addressed in an agreement? Will the NJ court uphold it?

Child's Religious Upbringing in Divorce Attorneys Toms River NJNew Jersey law, and therefore the Superior Court, strictly upholds that the PPR will determine the child’s religious upbringing. That said, there is a capacity for divorced co-parents who observe different religions to agree on the child’s upbringing that will stand up in court. For this to be the case, the agreement about the child’s religious upbringing must be in writing and in the utmost detail, covering every element of the child’s participation. Even in the case that a highly detailed outline of the child’s mixed-religion education is submitted to the court, there is a possibility that the court will rely on Probation to determine whether such an agreement is in the child’s best interests.

A court will not uphold a PPR’s request that the co-parent observes the child’s primary religion while in their presence — it is the Primary Alternate Parent’s religious right to choose their faith. They are free to practice the religion during their parenting time; however, again, they are legally barred from educating the child in that religion.

To Address your Specific Concerns about a Child’s Religious Upbringing after Divorce, contact our Family Law Attorneys for a free initial consultation at our Brick Office.

A skilled family law attorney is an essential support during a child custody hearing that holds so much at stake for your child’s wellbeing. Are you going through a divorce and have children? We’d be happy to be on your side. We successfully represent clients across Lakewood, Toms River, Jackson, Barnegat, and neighboring towns and ensure that they move on from divorce with a legally-backed system for parenting and bonding with their children moving forward.

At Bronzino Law Firm, we understand the importance of family and of honoring religious freedom.

Contact us at (732) 812-3102 for a free consultation to discuss the specifics of your divorce and child custody case.

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.

Platonic Parenting in New JerseyThe 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

Platonic Parenting Agreement Attorney in Brick, NJNo 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.

Divorce Attorneys Providing Assistance with Automobile Insurance Concerns for Children after Divorce in Brick, NJ

One particular issue has plagued many divorced parents long past their divorce when their children reach driving age: car insurance for their young driver. Who pays?

Car Insurance for Young Drivers After DivorceThere is a multitude of issues and potential challenges that need to be addressed and resolved amidst a divorce. When a couple decides to split, they must work together with their attorneys and even a mediator or a judge in Family Court, to identify all marital property and equitably distribute it; they must determine whether spousal support payments will be provided to one spouse and for how long; they must come to an agreement on custodial arrangements if there are children involved, as well as develop parenting time agreements that provide the child an opportunity to spend time with both parents; and they must determine weekly or monthly child support payments.

When a couple is getting a divorce, and their children are still young, the bustle of parenting time agreements and custodial arrangements take up all mental space, and some balls get dropped. Some of these balls include long-term considerations for the evolving needs of children as they grow. Why don’t divorce attorneys catch such issues? Well, some prefer to rely on modifications to child custody and support arrangements when the time comes, so they don’t even bring it up. However, making modifications to things like child support arrangements can be time-consuming and costly because they require re-entry into the court system, so it’s best to address children’s future needs in the original child support and custody agreement arrangements if possible.

Do I have to add my child to my car insurance in NJ?

According to New Jersey law, all drivers must possess a driver’s insurance policy. As such, your child will need automobile insurance to be allowed to operate a motor vehicle on New Jersey’s roadways. You can financially contribute to this policy, but your young driver will need to have their own.

How does car insurance work for children of divorced parents?

As part of a child support payment agreement between divorcing parents, a child’s financial needs are considered according to the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines. These Guidelines raise the issues of the various financial needs a child will have to have met to ensure their best interest as they grow. Such needs include their basic needs such as food and shelter, child care, healthcare, insurance, and medical expenses such as over-the-counter medications and doctors’ visits.

In 2013, these Guidelines were updated, and one of the updates, as explored in the case of Fichter v. Fichter (2015), regarded car insurance for a young driver. The couple in the case divorced in 2011, and at the time, they had a 17-year-old son and a 13-year-old daughter. When determining weekly child support payments, they took in the car insurance payments for the 17-year-old son. However, they did not have an established arrangement when the time came for the daughter to begin driving. The father, who provided regular child support payments, would cover the additional cost of split car insurance payments.

The judge presiding over Fichter v. Fichter, in reviewing the 2013 update to the Child Support Guidelines, noted that it was written in the amendment to the Guidelines that “principal cost, finance charges (interest), lease payments, gas and motor oil, insurance, maintenance, and repairs” would be included as automobile expenses a parent paying child support would be expected to contribute to. Given that it could be taken literally that “insurance” means the young driver’s auto insurance, the judge determined that a contributing parent would be required to modify and augment contributions to allow for these expanded expenses.

Who pays for the car insurance for my teen driver in Holmdel?

Who pays for auto insurance for children of divorced parents?As noted above, according to The New Jersey Child Support Guidelines, auto insurance costs are included in the required expenses covered by child support payments.

If you are in the midst of a divorce, and you have a young child who is not yet of driving age, it would behoove you to consider that you will one day be required to include driver’s insurance payments with your ex-spouse in the weekly expenses owed. As such, write into the child support arrangement that comes at a certain time, the payments will be increased to reflect this contribution. If you do not write this modification into the original child support payment arrangement, the child support agreement will have to be modified in court when the time comes, which is best handled with help from an experienced divorce lawyer.

Negotiating Child Support-related issues in Ocean or Monmouth County? Contact our Family Law Attorneys Today

If you are involved in a divorce and are negotiating child support terms, it is essential to have the support of a family law attorney on your side. At Bronzino Law Firm, we understand how important it is to ensure that your children are taken care of in a divorce. We successfully represent clients in Jackson, Township, Keansburg, Colts Neck, Red Bank, Little Silver, Tinton Falls, and towns in Monmouth and Ocean County to address key questions and concerns, for now and the future, with a child support arrangement that serves your child’s best interest.

Contact us at (732) 812-3102 for a free consultation to discuss your child custody and support arrangements.

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.

Proving a Parent “Unfit” in New Jersey Divorce LawDivorce 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?

Attorney to Prove Unfit Parent in Toms River NJProving 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.