Category: Parenting Time
Child Custody Attorneys Discuss How to Handle Travel and Custody Over Summer Vacation
Providing Parents with Financial Advice Across Spring Lake, Toms River, Point Pleasant, Brick, and the greater Ocean and Monmouth County Areas
As states open up, the federal government considers relaxing travel restrictions to the Mexican and Canadian borders. Several amusement parks announce plans to reopen; many co-parents are already planning family getaway options, vacations, and travel with their kids outside the country.
As millions of kids across the country divide their time between parents, the upcoming Spring and Summer holidays raise concerns over COVID-19, making what would have previously been a way to make lifetime memories more stressful. Decision making around how best to handle travel-related pandemic precautions is challenging for an individual to consider, but as co-parents who had difficulty agreeing on family issues before separation or divorce, navigating child custody in this COVID era means several other unforeseen issues (i.e., children being silent super spreaders) have turned the concept of family visits and vacation travel into a new battleground.
Differing opinions about the severity of the pandemic and the necessary precautions to take can make co-parenting especially volatile as co-parents weigh the impact on one parental household’s behavior may affect the health of another (i.e., step-siblings or relatives who may eschew masks). Unless your specific COVID-19 era child custody agreement prevents out-of-state travel or has other restrictions, then generally, each parent may choose to travel during the holidays, even though there is a pandemic, whether or not your co-parent agrees.
A lot of proactive, positive co-parent communicative or mediation should take place to protect both families and assure that everyone is on the same page and working to the best of the child. Understandably, parents would be hesitant about their child traveling or going on vacation during this current health crisis.
If this sounds like your situation, take confidence that the Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, located in Brick, New Jersey, can help. Our experienced child custody and family law attorneys and are staying on top of ever-changing travel bans and guidelines to provide superior legal guidance for your custody matter.
Planning to Travel? Review Your Court Mandated Child Custody Order
Before booking any travel, check the custody order for information regarding the specific details or steps you need to obtain travel consent with your child. This may often require providing a detailed itinerary before leaving and/or 30 days written notice. It is significantly important to comply with the custody order, as the courts can find any parent who does not adhere to it in contempt.
Even among amicably divorced spouses without a custody order in place, it is highly recommended that you obtain written consent from the other party or speak with a compassionate child custody attorney experienced in parenting time and visitation matters, who can help you enforce your parental rights and get court approval to prevent costly misunderstandings and stressful legal disputes.
What Kind of Documentation Does My Child Need for International Travel?
Once travel approval has been obtained, in addition to your child having a valid passport, the traveling parent should also have a signed and notarized letter of consent from the co-parent. Although there is no legal authority in the United States requiring a parent to have a signed consent document from the other parent to travel outside the United States with the children, a parent may still be stopped by Customs and Border Patrol in the United States or the county they are traveling to. This serves to reduce the potential for child abduction or child trafficking claims.
If the child is traveling with one parent or someone who is not a parent or legal guardian or a group, then the United States Customs and Border Protection has listed details that should be included in the letter, such as the:
- child’s name
- child’s birth date and place of birth
- child’s primary address
- passport numbers for all travelers or supervising adults in the group (i.e., school groups, teen tours, vacation groups)
- traveling parent’s name and date of birth
- travel details (where, when, why)
- contact details of the parent not traveling
- notarized signatures of both parents
I Do Not Want My Child Leaving the Country. What Can I Do?
It’s not uncommon for ex-spouses to be citizens of another country, further increasing the possibility your co-parent may take the child abroad. In this age of COVID-19, it makes sense that a parent might have reservations about their ex-spouse taking their child out of the country at this time.
Parents with concerns about their right to travel or who may want to restrict travel abroad with their child should consult a knowledgeable high-conflict parenting-time attorney for assistance. Here are a few situations where an experienced attorney may be able to help you in assuring your child’s health and well-being is a priority and prevent an ex-spouse from taking your child out of the country:
- Incorporate specific travel restrictions into the custody order that would require mediation or a court order to modify a child custody agreement.
- Surrender your child’s passport to the court to prevent international travel without your consent. This would require your co-parent to schedule a hearing to request the passport. A parent with significant reservations could present compelling evidence as to why travel would not be in the best interest of the health and well-being of their child.
- Prevent your child from getting a passport. Simply refusing to give consent can stop the process. This might be considered extreme as, typically, both parents must give consent for a minor to obtain a passport. However, if there has already been a termination of the co-parent’s parental rights, the traveling parent with sole custody can usually get a passport without the other’s permission.
Sea Girt, NJ Child Custody Lawyer Can Help You Enforce Your Parental Rights
At the Bronzino Law Firm, our team of attorneys is committed to supporting our clients across Point Pleasant, Brick, Wall, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, and the greater Ocean and Monmouth County Areas in working with their co-parent to carry out custodial agreements, guide and assist you with emergency motions and navigate revisions to court-ordered routines that may be necessary.
Contact us online or call us at (732) 812-3102 to learn more about your options and to schedule a free online confidential consultation with a member of our firm regarding your co-parenting needs during this time.
Telling your Children About Your Separation or Divorce in New Jersey
Serving clients in Brick, Sea Girt, Toms River, Wall, Point Pleasant, and across Ocean and Monmouth Counties.
It is likely the most difficult discussion you may ever have as a parent: breaking the news to your kid(s) simply that you and your spouse are getting a divorce. So how do you clarify the separation to your children? The one thing that is vital for parents to know is that you just have to explain the circumstances in a way that is as simple and calm as possible. You will see your soon-to-be-ex in a distinctive light, but your child does not. Your kids are still seeing you as mom and dad and you wish to ensure those relationships. Reassuring your children is key when telling them you are separating.
Where Do We Start?
Tell them around 2-3 weeks preceding any major changes such as someone moving out. Have an arrangement – in any event the essentials – before you advise them.
Meet with your children and your spouse to project a united front. As difficult as it may be, due to the severed relationship with your spouse, keep your temper in check and be civil to one another. Bitter tones, insults, and blaming will only make it more difficult for your children to digest what is happening. Now is not the time to air grievances or discuss adult issues.
Converse with them in a tranquil space when nothing is planned later on such as a baseball game or a birthday party. Pressuring them to act as if nothing were wrong is unwise at best. Weekends are ideal to be available for them; maybe take a walk in the park or watch a movie on the couch, something that gives the children a sense of normalcy. Allow plenty of time so that you are going to be able to cope with the possible immediate reactions and remember to be readily available at all times for delayed reactions.
Tell their teachers the day preceding you are telling the children, to set up the instructors for an expected resentful attitude or misbehavior. Request that educators be delicate, and circumspect with the family situation and only mention it if your child does so first.
What Should We Say?
When parents talk to the children, there are a few really important messages to repeat over and over again both during the conversation and in the months following:
- This is something mom and dad have decided after a long time of trying to make things work better.
- This is an adult decision and has NOTHING to do with anything the children did or said.
- Help the children understand they also cannot control this decision to separate/divorce by behaving “extra nicely”.
- They are free to continue loving each parent without fear of betraying the other or being seen as disloyal.
- Everyone will feel sad, angry, frightened, worried, and even curious about the future, all of which are normal and they are welcome to ask questions or express their feelings at any time.
- Most of all, assure them that you are still a family, just a different one than before.
Honesty Is Key, But Be Careful
Be honest with your children and don’t retract if they cry. It is likely to cause more pain later on because you set up false expectations that cannot be met and it only prolongs the hurt. It is important to be reassuring without making unrealistic promises – this is a very difficult task for parents, we never want to feel that we have deliberately upset our children. Think about what your child or children are able to understand at this stage too. They are not adults, and their perceptions and understanding are at a different stage from your own. Your children do not need to hear from either of you the faults of the other – remember, you are the people they love and are closest to in their whole world – that won’t change for them even if it has for you.
What Is Next?
If future arrangements have been determined let them know what they are. Probable timing of events can be helpful for older children, but do not overwhelm them with too much information at first, only what you judge they can take in initially. Think about the age of each child and your own close knowledge of their level of understanding and be guided by that. Tell them if you wish that you are coming to see people work out what is best for all of you, and you will tell them as soon as you know anything if this is appropriate. Be specific but do not over-explain. Try not to involve them in the solution or decision making unless they are old enough – and even then, be aware that many children still prefer for their parents to be the people who decide what is best for them.
Children want to know that the other parent is going to be OK. A visit to the new apartment, the room where they will stay (assuming custody is shared) and a parent already has found a place, it is good to tell children where it is and bring them over to see it within a few days. Tell them the basic plan; that they will see both parents every week, that they will see both parents every weekend – basic reassurance that they will be with Dad sometimes and with Mom sometimes, and (ideally) you will be all together sometimes for things like soccer games and celebrations (some celebrations –but don’t promise anything you cannot deliver.)
It Is an Ongoing Process
Divorce is hard on the entire family and working through change requires time and effort. Keep the lines of communication open with your children. Do not speak ill of your ex, your children want to love you both equally. It is up to you to be the adults and set the example. Coparenting is challenging and nearly impossible to do well if the adults are constantly belittling one another. Your children will have questions- a lot of them. As the panorama changes and you two as a couple move on with your lives, you are obligated to keep your children’s best interests at heart.
Contact our Divorce Lawyers for a Free Consultation
If you are separated or considering a divorce, our law firm has the skills and experience to guide you through what is often a harrowing process.
At the Bronzino Law Firm, we take pride in successfully representing clients in Brick, Sea Girt, Toms River, Wall, Point Pleasant, and across Ocean and Monmouth Counties. Whether you are considering filing for divorce or have begun the process already, you need a knowledgeable representative who will listen to your unique concerns.
Brick NJ Divorce Attorneys Guide You Through Financial and Emotional Issues
A divorce process should not become emotional and financial grief. Parents should not have to “chop down” each other’s possibilities of establishing an amicable co-parenting relationship after the divorce settlements, so you might want to explore some options.
What is the Legal Portion of A Divorce?
A divorce case’s legal portion only involves the finances and children, meaning child support and dividing any joint debts or property. Divorce, however, represents an immense disruption of one’s personal life. Although the legal system sets aside any emotions arising from a divorce process, parents getting divorced usually hesitate about settling because of how they feel. A judge executes a marriage’s dissolution after the case is settled and agreement documentation has been signed. A short no-fault, uncontested hearing lasting nearly 15 minutes in length is all that’s required. But the prevailing issue still is how do parents get to a settlement.
Once both spouses have testified before a judge, determinations will be pronounced regarding the child(ren), child support or alimony granted to either party -if applicable- as well as property assignment and whether or not any money is required to match the value that each spouse is granted from the marital estate, or who is responsible for paying off the debt. Nevertheless, we should explore three better options to resolve these issues with a more harmonious outcome.
Three Ways To Achieve a Workable Divorce Settlement
First, if spouses decide to sit down, discuss, and reach an agreement on their own after it is properly reviewed by an attorney representing each party to ensure all criteria have been addressed to achieve a comprehensive settlement, it is then considered final. An attorney representing one of the spouses would then outline a formal, legal settlement agreement, including all required legal provisions and terminology, to have it revised by an attorney representing the other party. Minimal legal fees are expected as a result of this process.
Second, if the spouses reach no common agreement on their own, they may request the participation of a neutral mediator to assist them in settling on whichever matters they were unable to settle on their own, as well as ensuring that all issues have been discussed, to avoid any pending issues.
Third, spouses may appoint attorneys trained in collaborative divorce cases instead of arbitrating their disputed matters. This option would be advisable in scenarios when a spouse is hesitant to converse without a legal advisor representing them because of fear of being at a disadvantage compared to the other spouse, who could be more knowledgeable of finances or who might have better ability to set aside emotional criteria when negotiating (for example, an ability to weigh down the other party when negotiating). The conflict resolution process (collaborative process) is composed of a series of meetings between both spouses and their attorneys (their own attorney should represent each spouse at all times). Moreover, a divorce coach trained and licensed in mental health counseling (for example, a psychologist, family therapist, or social worker) should participate to ensure a successful collaborative divorce process. The divorce coach will utilize his/her acquired experience, training, skills, and formal education to help the spouses overcome the emotional stress that frequently hampers the settlement resolution. Additionally, when required, an expert forensic accountant or another financial neutral advisor may also participate in assisting the spouses on how to determine what cash-flow is granted to each one of them, to secure post-divorce needs, as well as to establish actual cash-flow income, in scenarios where benefits and cash are involved in one’s profession or job and to appraise any professional practice or business interests involved.
Benefits of Choosing a Collaborative Divorce Process
According to research data, spouses who successfully resolve matters, either on their own or via collaborative divorce process or mediation, typically spend less money during the divorce process, as long as they amicably comply with their settlement conditions, thus having much fewer court appearances in the future (if any), have the ability to resolve any disputes that may emerge along the road, and can adequately co-parent their children. The most important result is that children are commonly healthier than children whose parents had a long divorce litigation process involving the adversarial court system.
In conclusion, considering the collaborative divorce process or mediation, before entering the court proceedings when divorce is unavoidable or when misled by an emotional turmoil, will save you money, help you feel emotionally healthier, and ensure a stable environment caring for your children’s best interests, enjoying assertive parents, demonstrating civility and respect to one another when it comes to parenting.
Contact our Woodland Park, NJ Family Law/Divorce Lawyers for a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one face a divorce process or divorce-related dispute, seeking financial stability and securing your children’s best interests by reaching an amicable and peaceful settlement, you are entitled to the representation of a divorce attorney who can help you determine your best options.
At The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, our experienced team of attorneys is ready to stand in your corner if you live in Ocean and Monmouth County communities such as Brick, Sea Girt, Brielle, Point Pleasant, Bay Head, Manasquan, Toms River, and across Eastern New Jersey. You can call us at (732) 812-3102 or contact us through our online contact form.
Strategies for Successful Co-Parenting With a High-Conflict Ex
10 Ways to Achieve Post-Divorce Co-Parenting Success with a High-Conflict Ex
The destructive nature of child custody disputes and the long-term adverse consequences of parental conflict on children’s mental health can be frustrating and disheartening for those friends and family members who are often unable to help children trapped in the downward spiral of their parent’s disputes. In high-conflict custody matters, it may be necessary to enlist the help of experts like psychologists, mental health professionals, or a parenting coordinator for a child-centered intervention when children are at risk for harm. This is because parental conflict often renders parents too distracted to move beyond their divorce, separation, or civil union dissolution.
Parental conflict, which can lead to parental alienation, is defined as any action, deed, or word that creates anxiety, places a child in the middle, or forces a child to choose between their parents. This conflict could be as subtle as the tone of one’s voice, aggressive body language, sarcasm, eye-rolling, ignoring, gaslighting, or more overt acts such as domestic violence, verbal aggression, or threats of violence.
How to Handles Difficult Situations when they show up?
It is unsurprising, due to the unique nature of co-parenting relationships between ex-spouses or partners, that there will be tense moments. Although within this kind of relationship, it’s important to recognize that although people will disagree over time, disputes or disagreements are not necessarily bad. Conflict can enable co-parents to find positive strategies for their communication styles and ways to overcome previous challenges, evolve, and empower each party over time. These techniques can lead to a positive outcome for the children and the parents as well. This perspective is even more relevant these days as parents try to navigate the health, safety, and security of their family and balance the realities of the current pandemic and their parenting time agreement.
At The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, we understand the parent-child relationship’s value and the subtle complexities of high-conflict divorces and heated custody battles. We are committed to representing your interests, protecting your rights, and advocating for your children caught in the crossfire. We will work with you to build the most compelling case for your desired custody arrangement.
10 Positive Co-Parenting Strategies for Dealing with a High-Conflict Ex-Partner
Often, trying to cooperatively co-parent or have a positive relationship with a high-conflict personality ex can problematic if the other individual is focused on themselves or their needs. Fortunately, you can use plenty of strategies to reduce the damaging impact of long-term conflict during and after divorce on your children. These techniques won’t be easy, but with a positive mindset and a willingness to work on adapting your approach, using the strategies below can have positive results:
1. Put your kid(s) first. Your child’s needs are paramount and no matter what your co-parent says or does, set aside your emotions to focus on the impact that your conversation or actions will have on your child(ren).
Is there a solution that benefits them?
How can this conflict be resolved for them?
Minimize arguing in front of the children, and in cases of disagreement with the children within earshot, take the time to demonstrate your problem-solving skills after the fact. Children should know it’s ok to believe different things and that individuals can talk about issues and positively resolve them.
2. Make sure you have a parenting plan that is structured and highly specific, which details schedules, holidays, vacations, etc., and serves to minimize conflict.
3. Don’t tolerate demeaning or abusive behavior from your ex, and be sure that you and your children feel safe.
4. Teach your kids relationship skills. High-conflict ex-partners may try to manipulate their child(ren) by using them as messengers. Directing your child to come to you when they have an issue with you can help them learn to address problems as they reach adulthood.
5. Establish a “divorce curfew.” Set aside a time of the evening where you don’t answer texts, emails, or vent to family or friends on the phone or via social media posts. Pivot your focus to positive relaxation so you can calm down, rest, and relax.
6. Accept help from family counselors, divorce mediators, or mental health professionals, and be sure to seek support from your family, colleagues, and circle of friends.
7. Establish your boundaries and minimize contact with your ex. High-conflict personalities thrive on the possibility of altercations of some kind or another. You are responsible for your reactions to their comments and behavior. Don’t be persuaded to do something that you’re uncomfortable with just to keep the peace. Adopt a business-like style of communicating in writing with your ex. Do NOT use inflammatory language. Do NOT communicate by telephone unless it is an emergency related to the child(ren).
8. Practice self-care and be the good parental role model your kids need to thrive. Sleep, exercise, eat right and stay in good mental and physical health. Be patient with your children, and don’t bad-mouth their co-parent in their presence.
9. Don’t take it personally. Your previous relationship with your high-conflict ex probably devastated your self-esteem and self-worth. Like many gaslighting victims, you may have thought it was your fault. High-conflict people’s comments of blame and shame have more to do with their own distorted interpretation of reality than you.
10. Stay positive and keep your eye on the bigger picture regarding your child(ren)’s future. Even though it’s stressful trying to co-parent with a difficult ex, it’s probably in your child’s best interest (ren) to focus on the positive and your children’s overall welfare.
Contact a High-Conflict Child Custody Attorney in Brick & Sea Girt, NJ
At The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, we understand the significant emotional toll that child custody and parenting time conflicts can take on you and your child’s mental and physical health. Family law attorney Peter J. Bronzino will take the time to listen to your concerns, understand your family’s unique situation and act as your advocate at every step.
Our experienced attorneys take pride in mitigating the legal process’s many stresses while protecting our clients’ legal rights throughout Sea Girt, Spring Lake, Wall, Point Pleasant, Silverton, Toms River, Brick, Ocean, and Monmouth County. Lean on our extensive experience to secure an amicable and fair child custody agreement whether you are going through a divorce, civil union dissolution, annulment, or are unmarried parents. Attorney Bronzino works hard to reach civil resolutions to family law disputes but will not hesitate to litigate when necessary aggressively.
New Year, New Life? Consult a Skilled Divorce and Family Law Attorney Brick NJ
Holidays are emotionally charged and stressful moments that can expose fissures in a marriage.
Typically the chaos and stress of the winter holidays, with possibly more family around, and children out of school, coupled with the anxiety and stress of the gift-giving season, forces many people to put a brave face on a worsening situation; with many electing to power through and not risk ruining the festive mood. In the looming pandemic crisis, many couples in struggling relationships who have been trying to cope with the economic and social impact of COVID-19, and who have strained family relations, may feel that they have been pushed to their breaking point.
If you are considering a divorce, or are currently going through a divorce, look no further than the Bronzino Law Firm, LLC. We handle all divorce-related matters including child support, child custody, division of assets, alimony and spousal support, and post-divorce modifications for clients across Ocean and Monmouth Counties.
Call our Brick or Sea Girt office at (732) 812-3102 to discuss your unique needs, concerns, and situation when it comes to any kind of divorce matter in a free and confidential consultation today.
Divorce Season: The Pressures of Maintaining Domestic Rituals in Brick, NJ
According to a University of Washington study, Julie Brines and Brian Serafini presented findings where they noticed a pattern in divorce filings that suggests married couples are more likely to call it quits after the two major holiday seasons: winter and summer. Brines stated this is because the period during the holidays is considered an inappropriate time to divorce since the holiday season and summer months are traditionally focused on the family. And the “domestic ritual” calendar governing family behavior, implies summer and winter holidays are culturally sacred.
So, for couples looking to separate, divorce, or dissolve their civil union, their reasons could be as simple as wanting to enact change and a fresh start in a new year. In more extreme cases it could a disillusioned individual vowing to never share another holiday period with their spouse again.
Therefore, a partner may start the divorce process, conduct research, consider child custody, child support, alimony and spousal support, or contact an experienced divorce attorney in January, but the ball really starts rolling around March, since it could take time to gather all the necessary marital and financial documents (i.e., Case Information Statements).
Beginning the Divorce Process in Ocean & Monmouth Counties
So, although according to this same study divorce filings from January to March generally increases by 33%, it has more to do with couples needing time to get finances in order, find an experienced divorce attorney, or simply summon the courage to file for divorce.
The decision to end your marriage is hugely significant. It impacts every facet of your life and it often takes people time to emotionally feel ready or comfortable enough to take this step. And like most big decisions, it’s important to consider the timing.
Contact an Ocean and Monmouth County Divorce Attorney Today
At the Bronzino Law Firm, LLC we have extensive experience helping clients and families to successfully and fairly navigate the entire divorce process in Ocean County and Monmouth County towns like Wall, Point Pleasant, Toms River, Spring Lake, Sea Girt, Brielle, Manasquan, Silverton, Brick, Asbury Park, and more.
Attorney Peter J. Bronzino strongly believes in providing each of his clients with highly attentive and effective legal service, and that by doing so, he can best secure the types of settlements and outcomes which best meet his clients’ unique situation and needs.
Our law firm does not offer a one-size-fits-all-divorce strategy. Instead, we get to know the people we represent, determine what is most important to them in the divorce, then work with them to develop a strategy designed to meet their individual goals and needs.
To speak with Peter Bronzino or our legal team and schedule a free consultation regarding your divorce or post-divorce modification issue, please contact us online or through our Brick, NJ offices today at (732) 812-3102.
Common Misconceptions related to Joint Custody and Child Support In New Jersey
Read on to learn a few common misconceptions divorcing spouses encounter that affect them moving forward.
Divorce is a complicated matter. Because it is a legal union in addition to a relationship based on love, its separation requires clarity and precision on all levels. One thing that can get in the way of this clarity is the divorcing spouse’s understanding of what common procedures and terms related to the divorce mean. In order to limit misunderstanding that may cause problems down the road, it is imperative that both attorneys and judges ensure that the litigants understand the lay meaning of legal processes and outcomes.
Physical, Legal, and Joint Custody
Surprisingly, custody is one area for which many divorcing couples in New Jersey are underinformed or misinformed. When, in an introductory consultation, a spouse says, “we want joint custody,” they often don’t recognize that joint custody takes many forms.
First of all, there are two types of custody: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody determines with whom the child will live, and this can take many shapes. Legal custody determines who will have a legal say in decisions regarding the child’s educational, medical, and general wellbeing.
Types of Physical Custody
When a person with a child is considering divorce, they often don’t have the necessary information to make informed considerations about how best to move forward. There are three types of physical custody, and two of them are ‘joint.’ Joint custody simply means that both parents spend time with the child based on the parenting time agreements they determine together, or that is court-established where they are not able to come to an agreement. While many who want ‘joint’ custody are thinking that they want the child to live with them an equal amount as they live with their spouse, this is rarely awarded by a court. Why? A 50/50 split is, in most cases, destabilizing for a child, as the child has to uproot and move back and forth more than is in their best interest.
The New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part’s first priority is the best interest of the child, so unless the parents live very close to one another, have an amicable relationship, and have similar parenting philosophies – or unless the divorcing couple will engage in nesting, by which the children live in the same home and the parents move back and forth between the family home and their secondary space, the courts will likely not award complete joint custody.
Primary Residential Custodian and Parent of Alternate Residence
The more likely arrangement is that one parent will be awarded primary residential custodian and the other parent of alternate residence. In this joint custodial agreement, the child lives with and spends the majority of time with one parent, and the other parent has ample visitation rights, as determined by their parenting time agreement schedules. The third physical custody agreement is sole custody, in which one parent has exclusive residential rights, and the other parent has limited and perhaps supervised visitation.
Child Support Expenses
Another common confusion regarding legal jargon is the meaning of child support. Believe it or not, many divorced parents request bank statements and other accounting to prove that the child support they have paid has gone specifically and exclusively to the support of the child. When they demand this type of accounting, they are generally thinking that their payments must be limited to direct child spendings, such as school supplies and extracurricular lessons. However, child support costs are far broader, and a parent receiving child support payments could be using that financial support to cover household expenses such as rent and utilities, car and gas payments, groceries, and other costs that are split between the householders, but of which the child is one. As such, a parent paying child support cannot argue that the other parent is using their specially allocated funds towards their own means. Supporting a child takes many financial forms, and the receiving parent is within their legal rights to use those child support funds in those ways. Of course, if a parent receiving child support is found to be using those funds to cover personal expenses or for personal matters, the ex-spouse could take that matter up with the courts.
Contact Our Sea Girt NJ Joint Custody and Child Support Attorneys Today
At Peter J. Bronzino Law Firm, our experienced team of divorce attorneys supports clients in towns across Ocean and Monmouth County, including Jackson, Sea Girt, Point Pleasant, Asbury Park, Wall, and the surrounding communities in all divorce and custody needs.
To schedule a consultation with a member of our team today regarding your divorce and custody arrangement, please contact us online, or through either our Brick office or our Sea Girt office at (732) 812-3102.
When Is It Appropriate to Use Child Testimony in Divorce and Custody Proceedings?
The process of getting a divorce and dealing with child custody is precarious at best. You want your attorney to help you obtain the best outcome for you and your changing family situation. If your divorce lawyer wants to strengthen his or her case, he or she will likely introduce witnesses to testify on their client’s behalf. However, before an attorney considers the testimony of such witnesses as part of their child custody case, they must determine if the potential witness is credible or not. A credible witness is competent to give evidence because he or she has knowledge and experience with the issues involved. For example, a credible witness can be someone who knows a particular field, such as an expert in children’s psychology. Yet, not all witnesses must be experts in a particular field to be considered credible. Oftentimes, family members are called to testify in matrimonial cases, specifically children, if they are of a suitable age.
What are the legal considerations when considering using child testimony?
Generally, a child may testify as to his custodial preference. A child’s testimony is usually procured on this subject in one of two ways. First, the child may be questioned by the judge in chambers, with only the attorneys and the court reporter present. This is sometimes called an on-camera interview. The attorneys are generally not permitted to share a child’s testimony from that interview with the parents. Alternatively, a child may testify in open court as a witness. No matter what form the testimony takes, the child must be competent to consider any testimony.
The courts have wide discretion in determining the competency of a witness. Judges experienced with young children will often spend a significant amount of time discussing with a child the concept of the truth and whether the child can differentiate between a truth and a lie. Judges will also sometimes spend a significant amount of time discussing mundane topics with the child. In addition to setting the child at ease, a certain amount of “small talk” may help the judge determine whether the child’s vocabulary is sufficient to express himself accurately. In some cases, the attorneys will be permitted to ask the child questions.
What are the practical considerations?
The first practical consideration is whether having your child testify or participate in an in-camera interview will have a negative emotional effect on them. Imagine how anxious you, as an adult, would be testifying at your trial. You may be concerned about ensuring that your testimony is truthful and clear. You might be afraid that your statements will be twisted by the other side and taken out of context by the judge. You may be anxious that you do not forget anything when you are speaking in court.
Your child has all these concerns and then some. He/She may be afraid to appear as if sides are being taken. Concerns about making anyone mad or disappointing either parent is also anxiety-provoking. Parents must demonstrate great care and sensitivity when a child is faced with testifying in this circumstance.
The second practical consideration you should contemplate is the unpredictability of your child’s testimony. Do not assume your child will make the same statements to the judge that he has previously made to you. Often, a child’s testimony will be markedly different than you expect. A child’s statements may be inconsistent for a plethora of reasons. Maybe he is being pressured or enticed with material rewards by the other parent. Perhaps his understanding of the world, including his perception of time, is not the same as yours. It would help if you did not rely on your child’s testimony to remain the same over the course of your litigation.
How Do I Decide?
There is no right or wrong answer. Every family is different and what is most important is that you do not place your possible desire to get back at your spouse by taking away the children to get in the way of a true consideration of what is best for them. Once you have consulted with your attorney to determine whether your child’s testimony will be permitted in some form, then you must make personal and strategic decisions. Child testimony should ultimately be whether you want your child to express his opinion to the Court freely. Regardless of the weight, the Court will give the testimony and whether the testimony will favor you.
Consult a Child Custody Proceedings Attorney in Monmouth and Ocean County Today
At the law office of Peter J. Bronzino in Brick, MJ, we understand how important your children are to you, and we are ready to work with you to pursue the best plan for your changing family. We will collaborate with your spouse to peaceably reach a child custody agreement while defending your needs and rights. Please contact us online or at our Brick, NJ office at (732) 812-3102.
How to Combat Parental Alienation in an NJ Custody Dispute
A family’s challenge following separation is to transition from an intact family structure to a separated family structure that is now united by the children and by the continuing parental roles and shared bonds of affection with the child.
Sometimes the emotional reactions and psychological functioning of one parent in response to divorce prevent this transition. When this occurs, children can be exposed to that parent’s continuing anger and sadness.
What Is Parental Alienation?
Parental Alienation is the outcome of a process of one parent (the alienating parent) influencing a child (alienated or targeted child) to turn against and reject their other parent (alienated or targeted parent) without legitimate justification. The alienating parent can also be a grandparent, a stepparent, and even a non-family member.
Parental alienation can occur even when the targeted child’s relationship and the targeted parent were once a very positive one. It occurs when a child is forced to choose one parent’s side over the other after family separation and during parenting disputes.
What Does Parent Alienation Look Like?
The alienator might divulge unnecessary relational details — for example, instances of affairs — to a child. This can certainly make the child feel alienated themselves and angry at (and feeling personally hurt by) something that was really between adults.
An alienator may prevent a child from seeing or talking to the other parent while saying that the alienated is busy/occupied/uninterested in the child.
An alienator may insist on the child’s personal items all be kept at the alienator’s house, regardless of how much time the kid spends with the other parent.
An alienator might plan tempting activities during the other parent’s custody. For example, “You’re supposed to be at your dad’s this weekend, but I thought it’s the perfect weekend to invite your friends to a sleepover here for your birthday this month. What would you like to do?”
Related to the above, an alienator might frequently bend or break custody guidelines, arranged inside or outside of court. On the flip side, an alienator may also refuse to compromise on a custody agreement. For example, if mom’s birthday falls on a day when dad has custody and dad is an alienator, he may rigidly refuse to let the kid go to mom’s birthday dinner when mom asks.
The alienator may ask the child about the alienated parent’s personal life and more. This can then become a subject of gossip. Oh, your dad has a new girlfriend? What’s she like? Wonder how long it will last. He had four girlfriends the year you were in kindergarten, and we were still married, you know.
The alienator may become controlling when it comes to the child’s relationship with the other parent. For example, the alienator could try to monitor all phone calls, text messages, or interactions.
The alienator may actively compare the other parent to a new partner. This could take the form of the child hearing that their stepmom loves them more than their mom. A child might even be told that their stepparent will adopt them and give them a new last name.
What Are the Consequences of Parental Alienation?
The consequences of parental alienation on children are serious and long-lasting. Some of these consequences include:
- Conflict with Parents
- Sleep problems
- Substance Abuse
- Speech Problems
- Sexual Promiscuity
- Poor Body Image
- Poor Eating Habits
- Eating Disorders
- Weight Loss/Weight Gain
- Disheveled Living Space
- Poor Executive Function (Disorganization)
- Diminished Activity
- Psycho-Somatic Distortions
- Feelings of Isolation
- Increased Use of Technology as an Escape
- Lack of Friends
- Sibling Conflict (Including Violence)
- Heightened Fantasy Life
- Diminished Attention Span
- Social Identity Problem
- Regressive Behaviors
- Conflicts in Peer Relationships
- School Dysfunction
- Memory Loss
What can I do to Combat Parental Alienation?
Create a plan and develop your resources.
Dealing with parental alienation is not easy. It can be exceedingly painful when your children resist your attempts to connect or view you as the “bad” parent, which is often the case. In your hurt or out of a wish to do what is best for your children, you might wonder if it is better to give up the fight. But this could mean giving up custody, your right to parent your own children, or even see them as much as you would like.
Utilize all available resources.
Develop a plan, with the help of your therapist and attorney, to address and face any allegations that may be made against you. Do you have proof to counterclaims you know to be lies? Track down proof. Keep a record of any incidents or contradictory statements without engaging or participating in conflict with your co-parent. Arrange to have a friend or trusted family member when you meet your co-parent to pick up or drop off your children. This can be a good idea for your own well-being and safety, but a witness may also be useful in the event of a legal battle.
Do not delay action.
Delay is the number one mistake that gets made and is the number one tactic of the aligned parent and their attorneys. Working with an understanding and knowledgeable attorney who understands that a mere allegation does not make something true is very important. You need someone who can help you defend yourself and your children from the abuse of parental alienation. It may act as grounds to modify a child custody order. There are no set answers, as the process can be extensive and arduous, but you are by no means alone. The sooner you contact a legal representative to assist you, the more expeditious the process will be.
Do You Want To Discuss further? Do not hesitate to contact a Monmouth and Ocean County Custody Attorney.
At the Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, we are prepared to help you recover a working relationship with your former spouse by stopping parental alienation in its tracks and creating a safer environment for you and your children. Our top-notch team is well-practiced in all facets of family law, from mediations to trials. Contact us today through our online form or call us at (732) 812-3102. Your family’s well-being is of utmost importance.
Healthy Co-parenting During the Pandemic with Sea Girt & Brick Family Attorneys
Learn some tips on how to navigate co-parenting in 2020.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the year 2020 has caused many hardships; it has been a devastatingly unstable, unsafe, and paradigm-shifting year for millions of families worldwide. While the Coronavirus has touched nearly every aspect of our lives, those of us with children have felt the adverse effects of the pandemic, especially forcefully, what with lockdowns, the school moved to remote learning for months on end, and regular routines and extracurricular activities canceled across the board. The stress of having children keep safe, engaged, and cared for 24/7 for the better part of the year is amplified even further when you and your spouse are going through a separation or are divorced and juggling custody arrangements and parenting time agreements.
If you are divorced and struggling to uphold your parenting time agreements in the age of Coronavirus, where lockdowns, curfews, restrictions on travel, and sweeping closures are the new normal; or if you and your spouse are in the midst of separation or divorce and are still living together with your children during this difficult time; it is important to have information, community support, and tools to navigate this uncharted era.
There are multitudes of studies noting that children require consistency in their day-to-day interactions and routines to become resilient, well-adjusted individuals. Especially when parents have split or are undergoing a divorce, children need to feel grounded, in touch with something that is not changing. As such, creating a consistent environment during this inconsistent time can be a challenge, but it is a worthy one to face in service of your children’s wellbeing. Consider creating habits that span households, can be implemented by the children and parents regardless of where they are, and harness the safety measures the Coronavirus requires; one example of this is a sanitation routine for coming home from school. Where do shoes and backpack go? Make this consistent in both households. What is the handwashing and surface cleaning procedure? What are the hygiene precautions for entering the car from school? How can the children be included in the roles and responsibilities regarding cleansing routines now that they are a necessary part of day-to-day life? Talk with your co-parent – and your children – about how you create consistency across households and stick to it.
Work Together for a Common Goal: Your Children
Whether or not you get along with your ex, you are partners in raising your children. Keep exchanges positive and specific. If communication usually breaks down, focus on logistics alone, and leave the back-and-forth to that. If you are still living together, make sure that confrontations and inflamed interactions are not expressed in front of your children – they do not deserve to be in the middle of your personal dispute, and they are particularly vulnerable and impressionable. As much as possible, stay out of each other’s way. When possible, highlight your ex’s positive traits to your child. At the same time, this may be hard to muster if the split emotionally hurts you, you are modeling for your child characteristics that they can look up to, and perhaps you may help your own healing by remembering your ex’s more welcome aspects.
As you and your co-parent navigate the inevitable shifts to court-mandated custody arrangements and parenting time agreements because of lockdowns and travel restrictions associated with Covid-19, work together as a team to ensure that both parents get as close to their fair allotted time with their children as possible. This is as much, if not more, for the child’s sense of consistency and wellbeing as it is for the parent’s sense of justice. Be open to being flexible about how that time spent with children happens in the short term — video calls may have to replace school pick-up and drop-off for the time being, and long weekends may have to be replaced by brief, socially distant ice cream dates outside. Know that this pandemic won’t continue forever, and the steps you take towards continuing to build a healthy bond with your children while also strengthening your relationship with your co-parent by displaying flexibility and collaboration will all pay off in the long run.
Wall Township Divorce Lawyer Helps You and your Co-parent Work Together Through Difficult Times
At Bronzino Law Firm, our experienced family law team supports clients across Point Pleasant, Brick, Wall, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, and the greater Ocean and Monmouth County Areas in all matters regarding divorce and 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, it is important to consider the actual earned wages and the parents’ income capabilities. 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 can earn 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 arrangementsto determine your child support obligations and rights accurately.
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.
Also, 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. 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 punish a party for 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. 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 child’s father 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 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 make the difficult decisions necessary for 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.