Category: Parenting Time
Does Refusing Overtime Imply Underemployment when calculating Child Support?
With experience handling child support related issues, at Bronzino Law, we understand that each client is different, and requires a specific plan of action suited to their own individual needs.
Whenever parents of children divorce or dissolve their legal relationship, one of the most important issues to be decided is that of child support. Although determining a child support arrangement in New Jersey can be a complex issue, the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines (NJCSG) were developed to dictate how to calculate child support and to provide fairness and uniformity in child support settlements.
When assessing the financial means or assets each parent has available for support purposes, is important to consider is not only the actual earned wages but what the parents’ income capabilities are. If a parent is voluntarily underemployed or unemployed and earning less than what he or she is capable of earning, the Child Support Guidelines allows the court to impute income to the parent who could or should be earning more.
It’s not always clear what a parent is capable of earning or if a parent is voluntarily underemployed. Some people have seasonal, occasional, variable, a second job, or “sporadic” income like overtime.
At the Bronzino Law Firm, LLC we take great care getting accurate income figures from both you and your spouse, as well as factoring in child custody arrangements in order to accurately determine your child support obligations and rights.
With experience handling a wide variety of child support related issues such as paternity actions, and child support modifications, we understand that each client is different, and requires a specific plan of action suited to their own individual needs.
Contact us online or our Sea Girt or our Brick office at (732) 812-3102 to discuss your unique needs and concerns related to any child support or family law matter in a free and confidential consultation with a member of our legal team today.
What is the Difference Between Underemployment and Unemployment When Calculating Child Support?
Underemployment usually refers to a person that is fact working but in some cases not as much as they’d like to or not to the full extent of their abilities, skills, or education. An individual working part-time instead of full-time may be considered underemployed. It can also refer to a person with very high qualifications working in a lower position with less money.
Unemployment or being without a job can be voluntary or involuntary. When a capable person actively seeking employment cannot find work, at any level, they are considered involuntarily unemployed. Conversely, if an individual refuses employment due to factors such as hours, wages, etc., they are considered voluntarily unemployed.
Can the Court Impute Income Based on Income Available From Overtime Hours If A Parent Does Not Take Advantage of Said Overtime?
As a result of the recent NJ Superior Court case of Ferrer v. Colon, FD-2392-07 (Ch. Div. 2020), the trial court specifically decided that overtime pay is “sporadic income,” which is fluctuating income that may be offered but is not guaranteed to an employee. Bonuses, commissions, and seasonal work are also types of sporadic income. If sporadic income is included in the NJCSG, then it should be averaged over a period of no more than three years. It was also determined that averaging overtime pay is fair because it considers that a party may work multiple overtime hours in one year and not at all in a different year.
In addition, the trial court held that there was no evidence that the party whose income was in question worked all available overtime provided by the employer and, therefore, it was not appropriate to include the total available overtime this person could have potentially worked, in the NJCSG. To calculate child support based on available overtime pay instead of averaging the overtime pay actually earned could serve to punish a party for having employment where overtime pay is available, and being unfair, might require one party to work harder than the other.
What Proof Can I Give to Prove True Hardship Related to My Unemployment or Underemployment?
The most recent causes for unemployment and unemployment are evident in the effect COVID-19 has had on many businesses; producing a catastrophic economic downturn on the local, state, national, and international levels. As money becomes tighter, companies have been cutting on hiring, hours, or simply laying-off current staff.
If a parent becomes involuntarily underemployed or unemployed then they should obtain copies of all termination notices, cover letters seeking employment, lists of appointments and interviews, job searches, and a calendar of daily efforts made to find suitable employment. This type of documentation can prove to a court that the parent was in fact let go or fired from work. In addition, this provides evidence of a sort that the parent has been or is making a good faith effort to seek suitable employment opportunities.
Has your financial situation changed recently and you want to if you qualify for a COVID-19 modification? Are an unmarried mother interested in collecting or enforcing financial support from the father of the child or an unwed father and you want to know about your rights and obligations related to paying child support?
Contact a Brick Support and Visitation Enforcement Attorney Today
Bronzino Law Firm, LLC has extensive experience helping clients in towns like Toms River, Point Pleasant, Wall, Jackson, and the surrounding areas to quickly and efficiently petition the courts to intervene in cases where a former spouse or co-parent is not living up to their child support agreement, or an unmarried parent is interested in collecting financial support or just needs to know about their rights and obligations.
Our smaller size allows us to develop personal and attentive relationships with our clients while charging reasonable and fair rates for our services. We believe that by communicating regularly and honestly with our clients, we can best help them to make the difficult decisions necessary when it comes to divorce law, and effectively and favorably resolve any resulting issues.
To speak with our firm today in a free and confidential consultation regarding enforcement of your child support, spousal support, or parenting time order, contact us online or through our Brick, NJ office at (732) 812-3102.
The Effects of Quarantine on Divorced Couples discussed by Brick Family Lawyers
For families, whose co-parenting and custody arrangements were already a touchy subject, COVID-19 may be amplifying conflicts and creating new ones.
For separated or divorced families, co-parenting can be stressful even in good times. During the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, families are discovering that previously stable arrangements may not withstand the stresses created by fears of illness and mandates to shelter in place or mandatory self-quarantine regulations when returning from out of state.
The key to peaceful coexistence when it comes to child custody arrangements is communication. The more information, ideas, concerns, and possible solutions that are shared between you and your ex-spouse, the easier the situation will be.
In a crisis, children and parents alike need a place where they feel safe. Safety is typically found in family and when there is discord, children feel insecure. Post-divorce parenting falls into three categories: conflicted, parallel, or cooperative, according to Dr. Charuvastra, a leading psychologist in the area of family counseling. The majority of divorced parents start out either in a conflicted or parallel mode. Conflicted parenting is where the parents frequently argue with each other, often about parenting or money. Parallel parenting is where parents do not communicate much, and children live in two disconnected spheres. Cooperative parenting is where parents are flexible, communicate, compromise, and try to create a single parenting world for their kids, even though there are two households.
When it comes to parenting, emergencies force us to adjust to an unexpected and sometimes upsetting new set of facts. Even for parents who have had very little success communicating and compromising, the latest health crisis has brought about a change in attitudes and parents are more willing to work together for the health and well-being of their children.
What Should I Do If My Child Has Visited My Ex In Another State?
Under the 14-day quarantine travel advisory announced by the Governors of New Jersey, individuals traveling to or returning to New Jersey from states with increasing rates of COVID-19 are advised to self-quarantine for 14 days. This includes travel by train, bus, car, airplane, and any other method of transportation. There are approximately 30 states on the list which can be found here.
The Governor’s order states: “Travelers and residents returning from impacted states should self-quarantine at their home, a hotel, or another temporary lodging. Individuals should only leave the place of self-quarantine to seek medical care/treatment or to obtain food and other essential items. As one example, no one who has traveled to or from a state on the COVID-19 hotspot list should be participating in or attending an in-person graduation ceremony.”
With these stipulations, you and your former spouse are going to have to work together and be as flexible as possible. The key is communication. If your ex wants to quarantine with your child in New Jersey, there are several options such as a hotel or Air B&B. You could offer to make grocery trips to help with the quarantine. If those 14 days are extra time that the child has with your ex, be sure and put the agreement in writing in case you need the details for future agreements.
On the other hand, if your ex refuses to change the plan and wants to make a quick drop off at the conclusion of their time, as originally planned you could be in trouble because that would mean your child’s quarantine would fall directly on you. It may affect your job or if you have any high-risk relatives that live with you. If you plan to self-isolate at home, make a detailed record of what you do and the expenditures incurred.
How Can We Create a Temporary Emergency Plan?
Negotiating a temporary agreement can mean setting up adherence to the new plan until a specific date, or it can be more flexible (Ex. Until Phase 2 or 3 is in effect). Also, there should be a stipulation as to what happens if someone within one home or the other becomes sick or tests positive for the virus. In keeping in line with the children’s best interests, parents who work in hospitals or are first responders may want to reconsider prolonged home visits with their children due to the possibility of exposure. Your attorney is your best resource to build this temporary plan.
What If I Lose Visitation Time due to Quarantine Restrictions?
1. Talk with your ex
Discuss with your ex and plan more visits or an extended period of time to make up for the missed visitation. It can be that simple.
2. Take advantage of technology.
Although it is not the ideal, watch movies on a shared screen, cook together or read a book. It is not the same as a face-to-face visit, but it can certainly go a long way when your child is missing you.
3. Establish a “Social Distancing” contract.
This can be a simple written document in which you both agree to follow CDC and local guidelines that both of you and your child wear a mask and stay in the “family bubble”. Including actual social distancing guidelines (no birthday parties or book clubs) and an agreement to follow diligent hygiene practices can bring peace of mind to the parent who does not have the child with them. However, this contract does not permit either parent to withhold visitation because they feel the other parent is not following the proper guidelines and is putting the child at risk for exposure.
What it all boils down to is communication and a willingness to put the needs of your children ahead of your feelings toward your ex. Neither party will be 100% happy all the time and juggling visitation while trying to keep your family safe during a pandemic can seem an insurmountable task.
Contact a Monmouth County Co-Parenting Attorney Today
This is why our family law experts at Bronzino Law our unique approach to family law centers around creating family life plans out of family law problems. By listening carefully to all of your needs and concerns, and keeping you highly informed and involved throughout the legal process, we believe we can work together to achieve the results you need in your unique legal situation.
Crafting a Fair Parenting Plan Agreement in Monmouth and Ocean County NJ
A child custody arrangement is always set up in the best interests of the child.
In the State of New Jersey, regardless of the amount of time a parent spends with their child as outlined in a shared custody agreement, whether or not they are the custodial (live-in) parent or the non-custodial parent, the court system refers to this time as “parenting time.”
As part of the divorce proceedings, a couple with children will prepare for a custody hearing to legally determine whether the couple will share custody, or whether one parent will have sole custody. However, when crafting any parenting plan the two words that must be at the forefront are specificity and flexibility.
Being specific in your parenting time plan is absolutely crucial in avoiding future problems. The more specific your plan is, the less likely it is that you will experience conflict in the future. A good parenting time plan should address the following:
- How will parental decision making be handled? For example, how will education, medical, religious, and extracurricular activity decisions be made?
- Access to the children’s records, notification policies, and how to handle emergencies.
- Parenting time/living arrangement also known as the physical custody arrangement.
- Regular parenting time schedule.
- Parenting time for holidays, vacation time, birthdays, and special occasions.
- Specific times and locations for parenting time transitions.
- Alternate arrangements, e., right of first refusal, and how to handle make-up parenting time.
- Parent/child communications, e., telephone/FaceTime contact with the parent not exercising parenting time.
It is critical to make sure the parenting plan specific to your family and to fit your family’s needs.
As specific as you want to be in writing a parenting plan, you will also need to be flexible. It is critical to understand that children and things will and do change. The list of changes that can occur in the future is long and impossible to predict, to say the least. There may be new schools, new activities, etc. Parents move, change jobs, get remarried, etc. A good parenting plan as well as the parents will need to be flexible to address changes as they occur. As long as both parents remain committed to the goal of providing a parenting time plan that is in the best interests of their children and that provides frequent and quality parenting time for each parent, then being flexible should not be an issue.
What is the difference between physical and legal custody?
The very simple distinction between physical and legal custody is that parents with legal custody can make legal decisions on behalf of their children, such as medical decisions and schooling matters. In cases where parents have joint legal custody, both can legally weigh in on those matters that impact the child. When there is a major difference of opinion, the agreement is often set up so that the courts can resolve the matter.
Physical custody means that the child lives with that parent. Parents who have joint physical custody share the time living with their child either through nesting, in which the child lives in the marital home, and the parents switch off; or the child moves to the homes of either parent during the set time. Further important definitions of custody are as follows:
- Shared Physical Custody: In an agreement in which each parent spends an equal amount of time with their child. Traditionally, this takes the form of alternating weeks; however, some children fare better with shorter time periods away from either parent, and some fare better with the stability provided by physically remaining in one parent’s home for longer, such as a month at a time.
- Residential Parent and Alternate Residential Parent agreements are when one parent is the primary custodial caregiver of the parent. The other, or ‘alternate,’ has a more traditional schedule of visitation, spending every other weekend, perhaps, with the child, as well as partial summer vacations.
- Sole Physical Custody: Simply defined is when one parent has sole physical custody, the other parent is strictly limited in the amount of parenting time they are allowed to spend with the child. Depending on the conditions of the sole custody ruling, these visits may even be supervised. New Jersey Family Part court tends to lean toward both parents having some form of contact with the child, even if it must be supervised.
In the case of both joint physical and joint legal custody agreements, there are usually clauses written into the parenting time agreement that determines the amount of time each parent has with the child. This could be laid out as a schedule in addition to a percentage time frame. Because a custody agreement is a legally binding, each parent by law must abide by the time constraints ordered by the court.
Given that time with their child or children is precious to all parents, having the support of an experienced attorney during the process of negotiating the parenting time schedule with one’s ex and their legal team, as well as in the case of a breach of the agreement, is of critical importance in order to ensure that your rights and the wellbeing of your child are met.
Get in touch with a Wall Township Parenting Time and Family Law Attorney Today
At Bronzino Law Firm, our New Jersey divorce attorneys are skilled in supporting families across in Point Pleasant, Brick, Wall, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, and the greater Ocean and Monmouth County Areas as they undergo the process of negotiating custody agreements and parenting time schedules.
Our direct approach ensures that the best interests of the child and the rights of our parent clients are met in compatible ways.
COVID-19 Related Co-Parenting Questions: How Can I Compensate Lost Time with my Kids?
Brick and Sea Girt Custody Attorneys Understand How Important Quality Time with your Children can be While Facing Quarantine
The Coronavirus pandemic has had a myriad of effects across the globe. One such way it has disrupted people’s flow of life is that it has made it impossible for many co-parents to spend the amount of parenting time with their children that their New Jersey parenting time agreement dictates. Due to stay-at-home orders, canceled air travel, and social distancing measures, many parents have missed out on time with their children that are essential to their healthy bond. So what if the pandemic has blocked you from your merited time with your child?
Communicate with your co-parent.
During the course of determining your custody arrangement and your parenting time agreement, you have come to some very specific, court-ordered schedules for how your child’s time will be divided between parents, and what expectations are for how co-parents will share the duties of raising the child. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, many of these routines have been shot to pieces. In the same way that making slight adjustments to your parenting time schedule due to Coronavirus is probably not an issue for the New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part to weigh in on – unless one parent is actively withholding another parent’s rights to spend court-approved time with their child – new small adjustments to make up for lost time can likely be handled by you, the co-parents, by coming to an informal arrangement.
In order to successfully navigate making parenting time schedule shifts to address lost visits, communication is key. Be honest about your interest in adding additional weekends or evenings, and kindly cite the specifics of the upsets to the schedule. You may have to negotiate, so be prepared to really listen to the needs of your co-parent, and communicate compassionately. Know that stress levels are high after these many months of uncertainty and change across the board, and emotional exhaustion may play a role in conversations. While you have a right to your court-mandated parenting time, you can get it while also tending to the potentially fried nerves of a homeschooling co-parent.
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way school districts across New Jersey are approaching schooling in the fall of 2020. Communicate with your co-parent about the remote or in-person learning schedules your child is going to have in the fall. Work together to come up with a homeschooling schedule, if necessary, that addresses the custodial parent’s work needs. Also, be prepared to shift your transportation routines outlined in the original parenting time schedule; and add specific agreements about how your child’s (and your own) safety will be ensured through social distancing and hygiene measures during parenting time moving forward.
Whatever changes your positive communication leads to, additional steps may be required to ensure they are legally upheld. As such, put all changes in writing. If they are drastic, prepare to reach out to your family law attorney to inquire as to whether the Family Court will require that you submit proposed updates to your parenting time agreement. You can also connect with your attorney if attempts at negotiating make-up time with your co-parent have been unsuccessful; there you can calculate lost time and seek counsel on legal next steps to take to recuperate that time.
Additionally, Put yourself in your co-parent’s shoes, and consider how their own schedule may have been disrupted due to having your child for more time than was originally planned; ask if there are any particular schedules or weekends that may help them to catch up on something they were not able to attend to. Consider this rebalancing act an opportunity to not only bond with your child but to demonstrate that you and your co-parent are truly partners in the journey of parenthood.
Creative ways to schedule the make-up time
There are many ways you could recuperate lost time. Consider long weekends, additional evenings, and late summer/early fall vacations of a few days to a few weeks. Again, depending on your child’s school set-up this fall, you may be in charge of overseeing remote learning during the time you spend together. Also remember the power of virtual communication – while video calls are not the same as in-person connection, creating daily routines of talking “face to face” and even helping with homework build strong bonds over the course of time.
Get in Touch with a Parenting time Attorney to discuss your options in the middle of COVID times
At The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, our team of family law attorneys supports clients across the Jersey Shore in Point Pleasant, Toms River, Jackson, Wall and Sea Girt in all custody arrangements and family time agreement matters.
Coparenting Vrs Pararell Parenting in High Conflict Divorce Cases
Co-parenting can take many different forms depending on the individuals
When a couple with children divorces, there is much more to be navigated than the division of assets and a custody arrangement. Where children are involved, separation is only the legal end to a marriage; it is the beginning of a lifelong partnership as co-parents, two adults responsible for the best interests of their children, regardless of their own interpersonal relationship.
In an ideal situation, separated parents work together to create a sense of consistency and stability in a child’s life, though that child is experiencing that consistency across households. This is called co-parenting, and it is a collaboration between exes to share time and parenting responsibilities in service of raising a well-adjusted young person. Co-parenting can take many different forms depending on the individuals, but it absolutely involves a mutual interest in working together to provide a stable and seamless home environment for the child.
What to do when they can absolutely not work together to navigate shared parenting?
So what are exes to do when they can absolutely not work together to navigate shared parenting, and all interaction breaks down into conflict? In this case, it may be in the best interest of the child for the parents to explore parallel parenting.
According to New Jersey law, a separating couple with children must come up with a parenting time agreement as part of their custody arrangement. A parenting time agreement outlines the schedules determining which time frames the child will spend with each parent, as well as how transportation to and from school and extracurricular activities will be handled, how holidays will be shared, and ways the non-custodial parent will maintain contact with the child in their physical absence. When a separated couple is mutually committed to co-parenting, the parenting time agreement can be fairly smooth, if the logistically complex, process to complete. When one or both parents want to undermine the other’s relationship with their child, however, a legally binding parenting time agreement can be harder to come by.
With support from an experienced legal team, a high-conflict couple can forge an agreement for shared custody that limits interaction to bare necessities and spares the child from being in the middle of a battlefield. This is called parallel parenting.
How is parallel parenting different from co-parenting?
Parallel parenting is a minimal-interaction form of raising a child with an ex. While co-parenting involves a relational climate of open communication to discuss the goings-on of the child and minor logistics of their upbringing and schedule, parallel parenting takes a more hands-off approach as far as parental coordination is concerned. Raising a child with your ex using the strategy of parallel parenting because of high conflict doesn’t make you a bad parent or a failure. On the contrary, it can be a very wise form of engaging co-parenting, because withdrawal from the interaction can often have a less damaging effect on a child than high-conflict parental presence.
Why communicating only information is important
When a divorced pair cannot communicate in a healthy and non-manipulative way, limiting communication to strict passage of information is key. Outline in the parenting time agreement the ways in which emails and other forms of communication will be used, and do not stray from those guidelines except in the case of emergency.
When a boundary is crossed or a decided-upon arrangement broken, use the tenets of nonviolent communication to clearly state your feelings and provide a specific request. Keep your child at the center of your mind when communicating with your ex – remember that you are both in the raising of your child together, and in that way, you are on the same team.
The psychological effect of parental alienation
Many high conflict parents will turn to parental alienation as a way to turn their child against the other parent. Parental alienation is the use of manipulative language to convince a child that their other parent is not a good person. The result is that the child begins to pull away from the other parent or even actively become hostile toward them. Parental alienation isn’t only a divisive tactic that can result in the other parent being legally liberated from child support or college tuition payments down the road. It causes deep psychological harm to the child and trauma that can take years or a lifetime to heal.
Contact a Child Custody Lawyer in Brick and Sea Girt NJ Today
At Bronzino Law Firm, our attorneys are experienced in supporting our clients cross Spring Lake, Toms River, Point Pleasant, Brick, and Ocean County in navigating relationships with their ex-spouses to fulfill their custody arrangements and parenting time agreements.
Primary Custodial Parent – Children’s Bill of Rights Attorneys Brick NJ
Do you know there are different kinds of custodial arrangements and that all of them must meet the statutes listed in New Jersey’s Children’s Bill of Rights?
Child custody cases are complex and require a skilled attorney to address your unique concerns. At Bronzino Law Firm, our attorneys have the expertise to help you to obtain the best custody agreement for your family. They are experts at negotiating, establishing, and enforcing child custody agreements. Our team is committed to helping clients reach custodial arrangements that meet their needs as well as the needs of their children.
What is the primary custodial parent?
When the parents of a child separate, divorce, or when one parent dies, child custody issues often arise. There are two types of custody: legal and physical custody. A court has the authority to make any custodial arrangement determined to be best for the children. These arrangements can include joint legal and joint physical custody, joint legal custody with sole physical custody and a visitation agreement with the other parent, or sole custody to one parent and visitation to the other parent, or a combination of any of those agreements.
Parents with legal custody make the major life decisions on behalf of the child which are important aspects of the child’s health, safety, and welfare. Other examples include education, religious practice, and extra-curricular activities or sports.
Parents who have physical custody are the ones present with the child at their residence. The parent who spends most of the time with the child has primary physical custody, making them the primary custodial parent.
Examples of such decisions include decisions as to what kind of schooling, medical care, and religious instruction the child receives. Parents with physical custody rights are those who are physically present with the child at the child’s residence. The parent who spends most of the time with the child or children has “primary physical custody” and is referred to as the “primary custodial parent.”
What is the New Jersey Children’s Bill of Rights and how does it affect our child custody agreement?
Divorce is a complicated issue not only for the parents but for the children as well. If you are a parent, divorce will not only be emotionally difficult and complicated for you but for your children as well. In New Jersey, the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts have adopted a set of guidelines, which, are often used by lawyers and judges into legal agreements and court orders. This is the New Jersey Children’s Bill of Rights and was established to protect the well-being and emotional needs of children involved in a legal issue. Its guidelines address post-separation custody and visitation issues which parents and their attorneys should discuss. Even in the most bitter od separations, the children are never to blame and deserve to feel safe and secure, rather than to be used as pawns in an argument which is out of their understanding and control.
Some of the statutes to consider thoughtfully are listed below.
- The Courts must guarantee that the best interests of the child shall be of primary consideration.
- Children should live in a safe, healthy, and nurturing environment, and know and be cared for by the child’s parent or legal guardian, except in circumstances when the child’s removal from his parent or legal guardian is in the child’s best interests;
- Children’s religion, culture, language, a relationship with a parent or legal guardian must be protected.
- To the best efforts of the State, to respect the child’s right to his identity, including, nationality, name, and family relations, as recognized by law.
- Respect the responsibilities and rights of the child’s parent or legal guardian to provide, in a manner consistent with the child’s development, appropriate direction and guidance in the exercise by the child of the rights articulated in this bill of rights.
- Children must be free from physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional abuse, neglect, cruelty, and any form of discipline that humiliates, demeans, or inflicts unnecessary mental or physical suffering or pain.
- Children must be free from discrimination or harassment on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, disability, or sexual orientation; and
- Children must receive adequate and nutritious food, suitable clothing and housing, and appropriate medical care, and mental health services.
Consult our Experienced Custody Attorneys
Now that you know the different kinds of custody and how the Children’s Bill of Rights should go hand in hand with any custody agreement, it is a perfect time to contact us at Bronzino Law Firm. Our top-notch legal team is ready to help you create a custody agreement that is tailored to your family’s unique needs. We look forward to helping you create a family plan that will work for everyone involved.
At Bronzino Law Firm, our team is experienced in representing clients across Point Pleasant, Brick, Wall, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, and the greater Ocean and Monmouth County Areas in divorce, custody, domestic violence, and other family law matter.
Child Custody Attorneys Advising on Vacation & Visitation Schedules During COVID-19
It is time to start talking with your co-parent about child custody modifications or negotiating alternative holiday and special days visitation schedule
As summer transitions towards Fall and schools discuss re-opening, COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders, business shutdowns, and civil unrest have prevented many parents who have dissolved their civil union, divorced, separated, or who are unmarried, from being able to keep their court-appointed parenting time or scheduled visitations or take the vacations they booked months in advance. This can be exceptionally devastating for co-parents or even grandparents who had not expected this pandemic to last as long as it has, and who have for whatever reason, been limited for an extended period of time, to electronic-based visitations via FaceTime, WhatsApp video chats, Google Hangouts, or Facebook’s various Live or messaging functionalities. Despite the significant increase in COVID-19 cases across the country, many co-parents are ready to try to reintroduce normalcy to their and their children’s lives and want to spend quality time with their children and engage in typical summer activities.
With amusements parks and restaurants opening up again, “stay-at-home” being rescinded, and parents who are no longer able to work remotely are preparing to go back to work or send their children to uncertain learning environments, as it relates to child custody many parents are uncertain how to make up the missed time, get it reinstated, or amend a previous visitation order (i.e., agreeing to a Thanksgiving visit instead of Christmas).
At The Bronzino Law Firm, we understand the value of the parent-child relationship and the significant emotional toll conflicts related custody and parenting time during this corona pandemic can take on you and your child. Family law attorney Peter J. Bronzino is committed to representing your interests in child custody matters and will take the time to listen to your concerns, understand your family’s unique situation and act as your advocate at every step.
Proactive Co-parenting: Why You Should Rethink Your Winter Vacation Plans
As we mentioned previously in “COVID-19 Co-Parenting Crisis Planning” fortune favors the prepared. With Christmas five months away, now is the time to start talking with your co-parent about child custody modifications or negotiating fair and reasonable alternative holiday and special days visitation schedule options to reduce stressful high-conflict situations, prevent disappointment, and present a united front in your child’s best interest. This is especially true if, during this pandemic, a co-parent has had to relocate some distance in-state or simply out of state, as a result of work or personal circumstances (i.e., a sick relative).
By providing an opportunity for open dialogue and a transparent communicative process earlier, the likelihood of misunderstandings or additional conflict can be greatly reduced, and hopefully resolved prior to the child’s actual scheduled visitation period.
Not having options available to you especially around the typical winter family holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas could mean your child being greatly disappointed, extremely traumatized, feeling abandoned, or in a situation that leads to parental alienation and additional stress in an already unprecedented time of death and uncertainty. It could even lead to one parent bringing legal action to enforce a child custody agreement or their visitation rights.
The family law attorneys at The Bronzino Law Firm have helped parents maintain their close relationships with their children, and have fought for and won favorable child custody resolutions for clients in Ocean County, Brick, Jackson, Toms River, Point Pleasant, and the surrounding areas. Our experienced attorneys know how to craft a plan of action that is in the best interest of our clients and their children and are ready and willing to help you too!
Should I Keep My Travel Plans to Another State or Travel Outside the USA?
As a result of New Jersey listing 22 states as COVID-19 hotspots and many states as well as countries requiring visitors to quarantine for up to 14 days, it may not be advisable to risk infection or because of voluntary self-quarantining only see the inside of a hotel room. It is recommended you discuss your travel plans with your co-parent and consider rebooking your vacation for another time or request a refund for any expenses related to a trip you are unable to take during this pandemic.
Let Us Fight Your Custody Battle – Across Ocean & Monmouth County
If you are involved in or anticipate becoming involved in, a legal fight over the visitation schedule or custody of your child, we urge you to contact us online for a free initial consultation or through our office in Brick, New Jersey at (732) 812-3102.
Family Law Attorneys Helping Monmouth and Ocean County Clients Through Trying Times
What are some likely changes to how the family law sector is utilized? Read on to learn more.
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the face of the planet. It has impacted every element of our lives globally, from how we ensure our financial stability to how we interact with loved ones and how we maintain close social relationships while at the same time protecting our physical safety, and theirs. Nearly every aspect of the educational, legal, and financial sectors will have undergone massive restructuring in operations and even purpose when the coronavirus pandemic is finally behind us. One area of New Jersey law that will see long-lasting changes in the way it serves New Jersey citizens is family law.
Custody and co-parenting agreements
During the course of the coronavirus pandemic, New Jersey has seen a sharp increase in the number of requests for changes to custody arrangements and parenting time agreements. Questions have flooded in to family law practices around the state about how to handle court-issued parenting time agreements that specify particular arrangements that have been either impossible or dangerous to fulfill. Additionally, some parents have used the stay-at-home orders and other restrictions to withhold the other parents’ rights to their fair, ordained time with their children, leading to numerous complaints filed with the court.
There is a possibility that a continued rise in online court proceedings will continue to occur in New Jersey, both in service of the safety of everyone involved and in order to handle the backlog of court proceedings. An additional effect of such a backlog may be that more family law-facilitated mediation processes will take place to handle issues that have arisen between co-parents during the pandemic or propose changes to the parenting time agreements as a result of a collaboration between co-parents in these new times.
Effects of COVID and Impact of Quarantine on Divorce
As one could imagine, the effects of quarantining have also been felt within the marital homes. As many people were forced to move their professional lives into their living rooms and navigate family life alongside a career, relationship issues have come to the surface. With millions of people finding themselves unemployed as a result of the crisis and facing the financial and personal stress that is an inevitable result – in addition to having to confront that stress with a partner with whom they are now spending much more time, and who also has been invariably experiencing stress – marital conflict and its ramifications are up, too. If the capital of the Shaanxi Province in China, which saw a record number of divorce filings upon reopening in March, is a prototype of what will happen in the United States upon reopening after Covid-19, we can expect that New Jersey family law will be handling a similar rise in cases. Remember that the divorce rate in the United States is already high, at around 50 percent of marriages ending in divorce. This is a figure calculated from a ‘normal’ period within the United States, complete with a bull economy and freedom to move about. What will be the figures as we begin to operate in a post-Covid society? We’ll have to wait to see, but initial reports don’t look promising.
Domestic Violence on the Rise During Pandemic
There has been a scary rise in domestic violence cases since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. While official data for pandemic-era domestic violence cases is not available, it is important to note that the New Jersey State Police reported that in 2016, the last year for which there is official data, there were 63,420 reports of domestic violence in the state. Now, with social distancing orders in place, the time between which a victim of domestic violence can seek help from a friend or family member is often expanded, increasing the likelihood of a dangerous situation becoming worse.
These are trying times for all of us, yet the New Jersey court system is updating its operations in order to ensure that all of the state’s citizens receive the justice they merit. Our firm is also poised and prepared to make sure you are supported as you navigate these unstable times.
Family Law and Divorce Attorneys Are Here for Our Clients During Difficult Times
At Bronzino Law Firm, our team is experienced in representing clients across Point Pleasant, Brick, Wall, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, and the greater Ocean and Monmouth County Areas in divorce, custody, domestic violence, and other family law matter.
Addiction and Child Custody Disputes Attorneys Sea Girt and Brick NJ
In the State of New Jersey, the ‘best interest of the child’ is the standard that is used to determine issues of custody and parenting time.
In instances where one or both parents bring allegations of serious addiction to the court, these allegations are taken very seriously and will require the court to conduct a thorough investigation as to the truth of these assertions. To do this, judges can order certain evaluations, such as custody and parenting time evaluations or a risk assessment.
According to the website Addiction & Treatment, addiction is defined as a complex condition often characterized by persistent drug use or problematic behaviors, despite knowledge of the negative consequences. Though substance abuse may be the activity that is most commonly associated with addiction, a person is capable of developing an addiction to certain behaviors, such as gambling, as well as shopping. The side effects of addiction are numerous in addition to being well documented and include:
- Brain changes
- Impaired decision-making, memory, and judgment
- Health problems
- Family strife
- Work problems, including declining performance, absenteeism, and loss of employment
- Legal issues
- Financial problems
The use of expert assessors in determining child custody and parenting time when addiction is alleged
Given the potentially profound impacts that addiction can have on a parent and thus their children, usually custody and/or parenting time evaluations are conducted by outside therapists or psychologists who have training and experience conducting such evaluations. Their findings are then forwarded, in the form of a comprehensive report, to the court with their observations and recommendations regarding what is in the child’s best interests in that particular situation.
Moreover, a risk assessment is carried out by the probation department where the custody or parenting time case is being held. These assessments are always ordered by the court when there are any questions regarding the child’s safety when in the care of a parent who is alleged to have an addiction issue.
The above-mentioned assessments will commonly involve interviews that include the parents, the child as well as any other people in the child’s life that may provide some insight into the child’s current situation, such as grandparents, teachers, therapists, and medical doctors. These experts may also review school records, doctor reports, or any other records related to the child. The judge will then rely on the reports and opinions of these experts in arriving at a decision. Should the custody or parenting time matter goes to trial, the expert who prepared the evaluation or risk assessment may be called into court to testify about the details of their report.
What to do in cases of extreme addiction?
Sadly, there are many situations where a parent’s addiction is so severe that the Division for Child Protection & Permanency (DCP&P) becomes involved with the family. In these instances, the parent should seek immediate legal advice because the consequences in this situation can be very severe. If DCP&P finds that a parent has abused or neglected their child as a result of their addiction, they are within their authority to recommend that their parental rights be terminated. However, usually, DCP&P will first mandate that the parent suffering from addiction participate in some sort of treatment program to show to them and to the court that they are serious about overcoming their addiction and entering recovery in order to be a fit and proper parent going forward.
Furthermore, a family court judge can also order supervised parenting time for an addicted parent if they determine that the child’s safety with the parent unsupervised is at risk. Supervision will often range from a family member or friend that all parties agree upon to court-supervised parenting time, which takes place weekly. Court staff will observe the parenting time and keep records about the details of the visits which are then presented to the judge in the case. In these cases, the ultimate goal is always to move away from supervised parenting time as the parent’s health improves. Usually, the program ends when the parent completes a specific goal, like a drug rehabilitation program. Once the program is complete, the court will re-evaluate the family’s case to determine the right custody arrangement for the child.
It is critical to remember that if you are facing an issue with addiction, there are treatments available that can help you with your illness. It is also important to know that if you are facing any child custody proceeding, whether addiction is alleged or not, you will need the expertise and guidance of an experienced child custody attorney.
CONTACT A BRICK, NJ CHILD CUSTODY LAWYER
At Bronzino Law, LLC, our family law attorney has years of experience supporting and aggressively representing our clients across Monmouth County and Ocean County towns including Neptune, Manasquan, Point Pleasant, Toms River, Brick, Asbury Park, Wall and more in all divorce and custody matters.
Our direct approach handles communication with all involved parties and represents the best interests of the family, allowing our clients to focus on aligning themselves with their future.
To speak with our firm today regarding your divorce or child custody issue, call our office at (732) 812-3102 for a free and confidential virtual consultation today to discuss your unique needs, concerns, or situation when it comes to any kind of family law matter.
Child Custody and Parenting Time Agreements During the Corona Virus in Monmouth and Ocean County NJ
Experienced Family Law Attorney Providing Advice on Child Custody Agreements Issues during this difficult time in towns including Wall, Sea Girt, Brick, Toms River and across the Jersey Shore
The Covid-19 pandemic has turned personal and collective systems upside down from the inside out. Old ideas of normalcy at work, at home, and with loved ones have been completely dispelled, globally. Navigating these times of physical, emotional, and financial upheaval test the resilience of even the most even-keeled individuals. Add having to navigate custody agreements and parenting time schedules to the mix, and one may feel completely overwhelmed.
We’re here to let you know that there is a structure already in place on which you can rely: the one you and your ex or co-parent set up when you determined custody and parenting time agreements and which is court-ordered. Though a State of Emergency and Stay-At-Home orders were issued in New Jersey, no official change was made to court orders. That means that when in doubt and if at all possible and safe, sticking to your established routines are going to be the surest way to navigate this pandemic with ease and grace.
What if my co-parent and I are unable to navigate our parenting time agreement during the pandemic?
If it is impossible or unsafe for you and your co-parent to stably carry out the court-ordered parenting time agreement due to travel restrictions, etc, you will need to work together amicably to determine an alternative. Because the New Jersey Courts have not issued an easing of court orders to meet the unique needs of this time, you are technically still on the hook for ensuring that the agreed-upon schedules are carried out.
If it is impossible for you or your co-parent to physically be present to carry out the schedule, work together to come up with alternative means of passing the time together, such as video or telephone calls. While this doesn’t beat the real thing, it is an important stabilizer for your child and shows a reasonable attempt to carry out the court-ordered procedures set forth in your custody and parenting time agreements.
In April, The New York Times reported that many parents were taking advantage of the nationwide shelter-in-place orders to prevent exes who had legal right to see their children from coming into contact with them, claiming the risk of contagion as the reason. While this concern is reasonable, and co-parents could work together on a case-by-case basis to find safe alternatives, using the Coronavirus crisis as a means of unjustly withholding legal rights of a co-parent could be reprimanded in New Jersey Court. If you believe that your rights to see your child have been withheld by your co-parent, contact your family law attorney to learn your rights at this time and what next steps can be taken to claim your rights as a parent.
Tips on addressing some of the challenges of co-parenting during the Pandemic
There are many ways that you and your co-parent can work together to navigate this trying time, even bonding as a family unit in doing so. Below are some tips for how to work together to create a steady and healthy experience for your child in these unsteady times:
- Remember that you and your co-parent are on Team Child. Whatever your differences, in one (very important!) respect, you and your co-parent are partners. You each want what is best for your child, so if you rally around that remembrance and become thought- and action-partners to provide the most stable and nourishing experience for your child that you can, you’ll watch your child flourish in the bonds created and grow yourselves, too.
- Develop shared routines that empower your child and create a sense of consistency across spaces. Use the need for additional hygienic safety to help create a sense of agency in your child. Give your child jobs such as a counter cleaner, shoe sprayer, or soap pourer when they are at both homes. They will be proud of themselves and understand their role in keeping the family safe.
- Communication and consistency matter. Make sure you each communicate openly to your child – in an age-appropriate way – about what is happening and how you’re all working together to stay safe and healthy.
Work together with your co-parent to develop the routines, systems, and emergency procedures that you will share across homes, and write them down.
Consult a Child Custody and Parenting Time Attorney in Monmouth and Ocean County Today
At Peter J. Bronzino, Esq, we support our clients in Ocean County towns such as Toms River, Wall, Point Pleasant, Asbury Park, Spring Lake, Brick, and all of Eastern New Jersey in navigating their New Jersey custody arrangements and parenting time agreements in this uncharted territory of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Contact a member of our team today to set up an online consultation and discuss the court-ordered ramifications of your custody agreement and any concerns you have about meeting them safely. Please contact us online or through our Brick, NJ offices by calling (732) 812-3102 today for a confidential consultation; we look forward to serving you.