Category: Parenting Time
Everything You Need to Know to Move Forward with the Stepparent Adoption Process in New Jersey
Given that approximately 25% of first marriages in New Jersey result in divorce, second marriages are 60%, and third marriages are 73%, families are changing in the blink of an eye. Frequently, stepparents want to make their membership in the family official by adopting their spouse’s children. Across the country, stepparent adoption is just behind foster parent adoptions, which are the most common. Stepparents do not have parental rights of any kind, and by adopting their spouse’s children, that changes.
Adopting your stepchild requires the experience of qualified adoption lawyers who know the law and have mastered the procedures necessary to get a positive outcome in your case. Having the close support of the lawyers at The Bronzino Law Firm will give you the peace of mind to move forward and follow the necessary steps and requirements to adopt your stepchild.
If you are interested in adopting your stepchild in New Jersey, you can trust us as your law firm to support and guide you along the way. We invite you to give us a call at (732) 812-3102 or get in touch with us online for a free consultation.
Most Common Situations that Lead to Stepparent Adoption
There are three circumstances one typically sees when discussing stepparent adoptions. The first is when the stepparent takes over the role of the child’s birth parent who does want to care for the child, is unable to, or has been declared legally unfit as a parent. Another circumstance is when the stepparent’s spouse (child’s birth parent) dies, and the stepparent adopts the child. Occasionally, when the stepparent and birth parent divorce, the stepparent adopts their ex-spouse’s child.
Stepparent Adoption Route in New Jersey
To adopt a stepchild, the non-custodial parent must give up their parental rights. The stepparent will be fingerprinted and be the subject of a background check. The Division of Child Protection and Permanency will also conduct a brief investigation. After an adoption hearing, the stepparent and the child will have the same rights as though the relationship were biological.
Requirements that Stepparents Must Meet to Adopt
Firstly, there must be at least a ten-year difference between the adopting stepparent and the child who is being adopted. This requirement has been waived from time to time under exceptional circumstances. Also, children 12 years of age and older must write a testimony that they want to be adopted and are aware they will no longer have contact with their birth parents. Children the age of ten and up can offer consent to the adoption process.
Parental consent is the sticky wicket in this process. The non-custodial parent must give up their parental rights to allow the stepparent to proceed with the adoption. If the birth parent is in prison, has an addiction to mind-altering substances, is incarcerated, does not have a place to live, or there has been proven abuse of the child by the birth parent, those are supporting reasons their parental rights could be removed.
Once all requirements have been filled, a family court judge will receive the adoption case and approve or deny it. This is the step that determines if the adoption is granted or denied.
Parental Consent, a Critical Component of Stepparent Adoption
Stepparent adoptions require that both birth parents consent to the adoption, giving up their parental rights. Usually, the birth mother or father, one of the biological parents, is in the relationship and wants the stepparent to adopt their child. Getting consent from the non-custodial parent can be incredibly challenging. It can be worrisome for a parent to rescind their parental rights and responsibilities. They will have no say in their child’s future. Of course, if the parent hasn’t had a relationship with the child for many years, permission may be more readily obtained.
Proving Negligence if Consent of Both Parents is Not Granted in NJ
If one can prove neglect, abuse, or abandonment on the part of the non-custodial parent, losing their parental rights is much easier. If you can prove the parent is not the biological father, he would have parental rights. There are several statutes that allow for the adoption of children by their stepparents without actual parental consent. They all require the birth parent to be notified of the adoption with or without their consent, and it only takes one to favor the adoption.
If the birth parent has not communicated compellingly with their child in 12 months without justifiable cause, this will denote abandonment. Next, if the birth parent is involved in criminal activities, is chronic alcohol or drug abuser, or spends most of their time incarcerated, parental rights could be taken. Also, proven physical, mental, sexual, or emotional abuse, malnutrition, or neglect on the part of the natural parent to the child can cause them to lose their parental rights.
There are times when the birth parent contests the adoption process. The stepparent and their lawyer must compile evidence showing the birth parent’s consent are unnecessary. Meanwhile, the birth parent must establish a relationship with the child that cannot be lost to the adoption. If the judge accepts the stepparent’s case, the adoption is granted; if they get the birth parent’s case, it is denied. An appeal is possible for the losing side.
Voluntary vs. Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights for Stepparent Adoption
If a parent’s rights are terminated voluntarily, they relinquish their rights as a parent. When dealing with involuntary termination of parental rights, the parent and stepparent must petition the court to prove the other natural parent is unfit. This is frequently seen when they have been unable to steadily contact the parent, or there is no longer a relationship with the child. If the stepparent can show a profound and valued relationship with the child, involuntary termination is a strong possibility.
How Long is the Stepparent Adoption Process in New Jersey?
It depends on many factors: the availability of the court if the birth parent is contesting the adoption, if you can produce all requested documents expeditiously and with few complications, it could take three months, with more, 12 months or more.
Planning to Start the Stepparent Adoption Process in NJ? Contact our Offices in Brick and Sea Girt
If you or someone you know is going to adopt a stepchild, it is an excellent idea to depend on an attorney to guide you through the process, especially if you suspect you may have trouble in the area of parental rights. A lawyer on our team can explain the best way to handle any situation that may come up and ensure that everything is handled precisely along the way.
The Bronzino Law Firm is prepared to make the adoption of your stepchild a pleasant and memorable moment. We want to meet your growing family’s needs and enjoy nothing more than shaking hands and smiling for pictures when your adoption process has been completed in Asbury Park, Middletown, Manchester, Berkeley, Howell, Point Pleasant, Manalapan, and elsewhere in Ocean and Monmouth Counties.
It May Not Be a Good Idea Opting for a “Do It Yourself” Divorce
It’s Highly Recommended to Walk into Court with an Experienced Family Lawyer by Your Side
You and your spouse have talked things over and agreed that an amicable, quick divorce is best for the family. Your spouse has chosen a lawyer, and you, wanting to save some money, have decided to represent yourself. You can get all of the forms online and watch some how-to videos that will explain everything. Besides, you have already agreed to keep everything civil.
Divorce, like potato salad at a picnic, can go bad before you know it. Your spouse has someone protecting their rights and making the most strategic choices while you are struggling as you read your notes from the online information you have gathered and use all the legalese you have seen on tv or in the movies. It is not going to go well for you, and once the divorce is filed and signed by the judge, there are no do-overs. It is imperative to seek a professional divorce lawyer to protect your rights.
Options in Divorce Representation in NJ
Yes, you most certainly can. Should you choose to do so, there are some essential tips it would behoove you to keep in mind. If only a few issues have you and your spouse from getting a divorce, try mediation. A divorce mediator can help you straighten out the sticky wickets that are preventing you from moving on.
It is valuable to acknowledge whether you have the time to complete all the forms and file them at the specified times. Some people use document preparers who are brick and mortar locations or online. For an extra fee, document preparers will fill the documents for you with the court. The level of reliability of each business is subject to investigation, so do your homework.
If you and your spouse agree on property distribution, spousal support, custody, child support, and a parenting plan, you could be a candidate for a DIY divorce. Still, emotions often get high, and the agreements go out the window.
Legal Jargon Can Be an Issue in Self Representation
Just because you and your spouse appear to be on the same page regarding your divorce, that does not mean that a DIY divorce is a good idea. By doing the divorce yourself, you are liable to make hundreds of mistakes that commonly include calculating child support, a solid picture of assets and expenditures in the home, visitation, child custody, and more.
Everyone has a pretty good idea of the economics of their household, but the financial part of the divorce is not about good guesses. It is about gathering evidence and filling out a CIS (Case Information Statement), a detailed form that presents all of the financial information of the home. It is a complicated form and needs to be done carefully as it is an official court document. If your statement is miscalculated, it can change the number of assets and how much will be divided.
You and your spouse talked about you buying their share of the house or getting a new loan with only your name on the deed. Now your spouse wants to keep the house for the kids. According to the equitable distribution, the judge can make several decisions, such as selling the home and dividing the proceeds or one of you buying out the other and getting a new loan. But what happens if neither of you can get a new loan or other property issues arise?
Probably the most complicated part of divorce is when children are the topic. Before child support is talked about, a visitation schedule is established. This is more than a PowerPoint calendar with two different colors. The type of custody must be decided. When support is discussed, if an agreement cannot be reached, the judge will set an amount that may be higher than the non-custodial parent can pay.
Consider the Following Aspects Before Your Final Call
You are not a lawyer. You don’t know how to prepare documents, calculations, or witnesses (if need be). You are on a raft in the ocean without a paddle, you know where you want to get, but you haven’t the slightest notion of how to do it.
The discovery process can be a minefield. You and your spouse must exchange pertinent documents to outline the divorce agreement. Your spouse’s lawyer will know what information is protected because it is considered privileged; if your spouse does not want to release everything, you will have to file a subpoena to obtain what is missing (if you know what you are looking for.)
Maybe you don’t know what an equitable settlement is. If your neighbors got a divorce, and they have three children the same age as you and assets similar to yours, then what worked for them should probably work for you, right? Wrong. Every divorce is different. If you represent yourself, how will you approach the judge with the “But-it’s-not-fair” clause when their decision is far different from what you expected? You cannot use other people’s divorce results as a springboard for yours.
The most important reason you shouldn’t represent yourself in your divorce is perspective. You are too close to the situation and cannot see it clearly, try as you might. For as kind and amicable as you and your ex have been with one another, there are still deep feelings that could cause you to act with poor judgment. This is even more true when there are children involved. A lawyer is familiar with all of the child custody laws and can protect your rights and those of your children.
Thinking You Should Represent Yourself when Getting Divorced? Think Again. Contact Us for Help from a Seasoned Ocean NJ Divorce Lawyer
Divorces are frequently adversarial, and you need a knowledgeable divorce lawyer working with you to make sure your rights are protected and you are not taken advantage of. Your lawyer will investigate and obtain all the necessary documents and forms to represent you completely. They will represent you in court and keep you abreast of every step to be taken as well as being an expert negotiator.
In conclusion, CAN you represent yourself in your divorce? YES, you can. SHOULD you? If you are a divorce lawyer, maybe. If you aren’t, absolutely not. When you go to a restaurant, do you go back into the kitchen and cook your favorite dish? Of course not. You let the pro make your favorite meal and par for the privilege.
Is divorce expensive? Yes. Is your family’s future worth the expense? I would think so. The great Pres. Abraham Lincoln had something to say about this topic that hits the nail on the head, “…Every man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client.” At our firm, we have represented clients in Mantoloking, Jackson, Holmdel, Oakhurst, Brick, Ocean Township, Rumson, and across Ocean and Monmouth County.
If you are getting a divorce or know someone who is, Bronzino Law Firm has excellent divorce lawyers who, through experience, have been shown to be talented, astute, and, if need be, aggressive. Call us today at (732) 812-3102 or send us a message online to get a free consultation or make an appointment.
What to Know about Guardians ad Litem (GAL)
The best interest of the child is the supreme goal of a Guardian ad Litem, called upon in family law cases where custody and visitation issues exist.
In divorces, custody battles, and child protective services cases, decisions rest on the best interests of each child. Best interests include where and how a child thrives by meeting their security and development interests. Thus, the child’s education, healthcare, and safety needs weigh heavily in a court’s custody apportionment when parents have a contested custody or a department of child protection and permanency (DCPP) case. Often the court relies on a third party to represent the interests of children in disputes. As the voice of the children, the guardian ad litem (GAL) plays a critical role in the court’s decision.
At Bronzino Law Firm, our talented family lawyers provide support, guidance, and skillful representation in custody and parenting time disputes in Toms River, Jackson, Point Pleasant, Bayhead, Lacey, Brick, and towns in Monmouth and Ocean Counties. Contact our offices at (732) 812-3102 today to schedule an appointment or a free consultation to discuss what steps you can take to protect your rights in a guardian ad litem case and how our lawyers can help.
Characteristics of a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) in New Jersey
When you are fighting a highly contested battle for child custody, visitation, or parental rights, a guardian ad litem is a lawyer, mental health professional, or other suitable people who you will get to know. So, if you and your spouse are vying for primary custody in a divorce, the court has the authority to appoint a GAL, though they use this option sparingly. However, only lawyers can represent children whose parents face abuse and neglect accusations, as when the state threatens to terminate their parental rights (N.J.S.A. 30:4c-15.4). Known as law guardians, these lawyers speak for the children they represent, a mouthpiece for their desires and complaints, and advocate for their best interests (N.J.S.A 9:68.23). The court also appoints the law guardian.
Understanding the Role of the Guardian ad Litem (GAL)
Thus, when an evaluation of the parents is part of a divorce or custody dispute or a minor child is a party to the court action, the guardian ad litem determines and promotes the children’s best interests to the court. On the other hand, the legal guardian participates in court proceedings involving the dispute, including cross-examining witnesses and appealing court decisions. Whereas the legal guardian is the lawyer for the children, representing them as a party in a dispute, the GAL reports to the court what the children want and what other professionals recommend after an investigation and evaluation of the involved parties. The GAL must interview the children, parents, siblings, and other relevant parties to investigate and evaluate the child’s circumstances. They obtain documents, such as school, health, and police records about the family and hire experts like counselors, therapists, and lawyers for the children, if necessary and approved by the court. They also speak with lawyers for the parties.
Key Information Gathered by the Guardian ad Litem
The GAL’s investigation and evaluation are for informing the court of the child’s best interests. The GAL’s research, interviews, summaries, reports, and assessments are one component of the court’s overall determination of what constitutes “best interests,” including the relationship of each parent to the child, the relationship between the parents, the child’s relationship with their siblings or others in the household, and the safety and stability of the home. For example, looking at the parents, the court wants to see the parents are mentally and physically capable, able to communicate, and free of substance addiction and domestic violence incidences. In addition, the court examines their education, employment, and willingness to accept custody responsibilities.
Factors Considered by the NJ Family Courts
Each parent’s situation, their ability to reliably maintain a parenting schedule, the proximity of their residences, and the quality time each parent spent with their child before separation are factors for the court. In addition, the court considers the child’s age, needs, education, and preference if old enough (N.J.S.A. 9:2-4A). So, if one parent works nights and lives alone, they might not be able to meet the child’s or children’s safety needs. However, a court or lawyer may have a creative solution to address the overnights, perhaps awarding custody or visitation to the parent on their days off. A party may be willing to change jobs to gain custody. And if either parent abuses substances or has a history of driving after drinking alcohol, the court may consider that parent an unsafe parent. But typically, each parent’s situation or lifestyle may not best fulfill the child’s needs in some way or another, and an evaluation of all factors is necessary to determine where the child should live.
Importance of Having the Advice of a Family & Custody Lawyer when a Guardian ad Litem is Called in Your Case
When the court appoints a guardian ad litem or a party requests one, both parents should know what they do and what to expect. They should know the role of the guardian ad litem and how that involves each parent. Before an investigation begins, each parent must understand their interview answers become critical in a court’s custody and visitation decision. As such, a parent’s preparation is crucial to advancing their interests or, in the case of parent termination cases, to protect their parental rights. Hiring a family law attorney guarantees that a parent knows what questions a guardian ad litem might ask, how the interview affects the case’s outcome, and what evidence the parent might provide to enhance their position as a responsibly bonded parent to their child.
Get Representation from Point Pleasant Family and Custody Lawyers
Contact a family lawyer at the Bronzino Law Firm for advice and representation if you are in a contentious custody or visitation dispute with your co-parent. Our lawyers in our Brick and Sea Girt locations can prepare you for an evaluation and the court’s best interests criteria by highlighting your parental strengths and strong relationship with your child or children. We have years of experience identifying and presenting your most vital attributes and profile of a loving, responsible parent and willingness to do whatever it takes for your children. We can also recommend you take parenting classes, change your living situation, or make other changes to show the court your earnestness in gaining custody of your child if there are additional hurdles that need to be addressed. In a word, our family law and child custody lawyers can prepare you for the preparatory phase of the custody hearing and every aspect that comes after.
We can cross-examine witnesses and your co-parent at a custody hearing, defending your interests and deflecting accusations of parental neglect, disinterest, or inability to meet your child’s needs. A custody hearing is a trial that includes your testimony, your co-parent’s testimony, and that of the guardian ad litem and other experts who have counseled or treated your child. It takes legal prowess and long preparation to win a custody battle. Thus, hiring an expert family lawyer who regularly deals with guardians ad litem and their importance for your case is your best move. Call (732) 812-3102 or fill out our online intake form to get in contact with a family law attorney on our team for your custody case involving a guardian ad litem in Holmdel, Red Bank, Lakewood, Neptune, Freehold, Sea Bright, Bay Head, and across Monmouth County and Ocean County.
Adding a New Jersey Parenting Coordinator for the Best Interest of the Children
Divorce and Parenting Lawyers providing counsel to clients in Lakewood, Brick, Colts Neck, Beach Haven, and across Ocean and Monmouth Counties
Sometimes doing things the way they have always been done is not as effective as trying something new. For decades, divorces were focused on the parents arguing and yelling or settling down at the table to talk; the children embroiled in the crossfire were never asked for their opinion about what their future would look like.
More than one million children are affected by divorce every year. Millions of children will be mixed up in their parents’ conflicts, unable to escape the vulnerable and harsh world they experience daily.
As part of a pilot program from 2007 to 2012, Bergen, Morris, Sussex, and Union counties established a method similar to mediation for parents who were having difficulties avoiding conflict in the most basic of parenting issues. Despite having finished, judges still use the program when they feel it is necessary and would behoove the entire family. The one exception is if there is a history of domestic violence.
Parenting Coordinator Profile
A parenting coordinator is a neutral party chosen by the court or agreed to by the parents who are struggling with aspects of parenting decisions. Psychologists, psychiatrists, family therapists, and even qualified lawyers are some professionals that make good coordinators. It should be someone with experience in working with families, especially children.
Mediation Role of the Parent Coordinator
A parent coordinator’s purpose is to help a family focus on the importance of their parenting plan by negotiating solutions to problems that the parents cannot find a solution to, even when a project is already in place. The use of a parenting coordinator can reprioritize goals, make way for compromise, discuss possible misunderstandings, and learn methods of communication to express oneself in a way that promotes collaboration and positivity.
Possible Scenarios for a Parenting Coordinator to Step In
A judge can appoint a parenting coordinator when they feel it is necessary, even after a final order is given or when a parent has violated the custody order and is held in contempt. If both parties agree, or one party can prove there is a need for a coordinator or the judge, analyzing the dispute, decides that one is needed based on the list below.
The judge can only appoint a parenting coordinator when both parents can afford to pay for the sessions. The child’s best interests would be best served if a parenting coordinator was appointed. If the judge decides it is a “high conflict case,” meaning that the parents in the case have used excessive litigation, verbal abuse, and distrust. There have been incidents of physical aggression or threats of physical attack. The parents cannot agree on the care of the children. The judge believes a parent coordinator can solve several of the issues.
Issues Handled by a Parenting Coordinator in New Jersey
It is important to remember that the parenting coordinator has specific content to stay focused on. There is no ad-lib or spur-of-the-moment discussion. The coordinator is there to work with the parents to reach answers to problematic issues. A parent coordinator facilitates productive discussions and identifies the stumbling blocks that the parents are experiencing that prevent them from making decisions that will allow them to parent together. The coordinator establishes boundaries and ensures that the parents treat one another with respect. Educating parents on making decisions that are in the child’s best interests is another skill the coordinator has. Frequently, the parents want to “win” the discussion without considering the benefit the outcome will have for the children. The parenting coordinator provides resources the parents can use for decision-making skills and documents all the progress made in the sessions. If necessary, the coordinator will bring the children into the discussion in a calm and safe environment to express their concerns without verbal attacks.
There are several topics such as diet, clothing, recreation, extracurricular activities, daycare and babysitting, vacations, education, transportation to and from visitation, health care management, and use of social media, among others.
Parenting Coordinator Appointed by Court
The court can appoint one for you, or you can request on your own that the court appoint one for you.
Talk to an Experienced Brick Family Lawyer to Supervise the Parenting Coordination Process in Southern New Jersey
The parenting coordinator focuses on specific problems between the parents and their possible solutions. The lawyer’s role is to make sure that the decisions made are legal and for the best interests of the client and their children. After each session, the parenting coordinator will draw up a document summarizing the day’s events and give it to the lawyer. Custody agreements, visitation, and child support can be discussed, but it is the lawyer who submits the motions.
Bronzino Law Firm has vastly experienced family lawyers whose goal is to make your experience as straightforward and productive as possible. Every family has its own needs and concerns. Our committed attorneys are empathetic and will listen to your unique issues in Toms River, Mantoloking, Stafford, Beachwood, Berkeley, Lacey, Ocean Township, and along the Jersey Shore.
You Were Partners in Life, Can You be Partners in Parenting?
Co-parenting isn’t about you and your former partner; it is about creating the best atmosphere possible for the health and well-being of the children you share. Consider these things when seeking to create your mutually beneficial parental partnership in New Jersey.
If 50% of marriages end in divorce, many divorced couples co-parent. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a fourth of all children live with one parent. Successful co-parenting implies a partnership, and even if you are divorced, your child’s emotional and psychological welfare depends upon you and your ex’s ability to co-parent in a way that is at least civil and, at best amicable.
Characteristics of Healthy Co-Parenting
Parenting is a tough job that becomes even more challenging when there is a divorce. Parents should see each other as partners even though they are no longer a couple. The parenting plan agreed upon with the divorce should be followed closely. It is healthy for children to share time with both parents. The kids have to come first. A healthy sign of co-parenting is seeing both parents attend sports events, plays, or recitals without making a scene.
In a healthy relationship, parents agree; they have each other’s back. The theory of divide and conquer was never more accurate than in co-parenting. Setting equal boundaries for children such as bedtimes and screen time on a united front provides stability.
In a healthy co-parenting relationship, there is flexibility. Sometimes extended families have activities that don’t necessarily fit into the family plan, or some family comes to visit from out of town. Having flexibility shows a willingness to compromise.
One of the critical components of this relationship is respect. No one speaks ill of the other, not the parents, not the children. Children hear, see, and imitate their parents’ behavior. Co-parents in a healthy relationship respect each other’s time, resources, and ideas.
Communication is probably the most significant factor in having a healthy co-parenting relationship. Parents need to communicate with one another, and the children should have access to either parent regardless of with whom they are residing at the time.
Working on a Healthy Co-Parenting Relationship in NJ
Experts provide pages and pages of advice to divorced couples who want to avoid the toxicity frequently found between parents after their divorce. Here is what some of them have to say. First, show each other respect and civility. If one rule had to be chosen, this would be the one. Do not insult one another in person, on the phone, in texts, when talking with family or friends, teachers or coaches, no one. Your children love both of you, and to hear you speak ill of someone they love is heartbreaking. Do not argue with your ex and not in front of the children if you must. Don’t interview your children after they visit your ex. They will want to make you happy but don’t want to betray the other parent by divulging information they are supposed to keep secret.
Importance of Creating a Healthy Environment For the Children
Children learn how to treat others by watching the people around them. Respect is of the utmost importance in all families, not just those affected by divorce. Children who watch their divorced parents speak to one another civilly, coordinate plans for the coming week, discuss or even disagree politely will learn to do the same. There is security and a sense of safety when parents avoid aggression by demonstrating a willingness to put their children’s needs first. This attitude can later be applied in the children’s lives when compromise is needed. It teaches them to get along with someone even when they don’t agree on everything.
Talking about feelings, holding space for all of the emotions children have, and allowing them to talk about them free of judgment or sarcasm is crucial to their emotional and psychological development. They need to be heard on their terms to develop a confident sense of self. The best environment to provide for them is where both parents are open and willing to listen. Another cornerstone in your relationship with your ex is compromised. Try to keep an open mind and pick your battles. Is that extra Saturday every three months the hill you want to die on? Put things in perspective and focus on the primary goal: happy, healthy children.
Secure a Healthy Setting For Yourself
Divorce can take a toll on the health and wellness of everyone involved. If you want to create a healthy surrounding for your children, it is essential to take care of yourself. You will never be able to move on with your new life if you don’t try new things. Book clubs, exercise classes (Cross Fit, yoga) can put you in a group atmosphere where you can socialize and stretch those “meeting people muscles.” Seeking companionship (platonic or otherwise) is a great way to keep you emotionally healthy. Constructing a healthy space makes coming home something special every day. Even on a budget, adding some pillows here or painting an accent wall there can perk you up and keep you moving. Showing your children that life will continue is the best reason to take care of yourself.
Influence of an Unhealthy Relationship on the Children
When co-parents are constantly at war, their children feel insecure, frightened, and even angry. When there are fights, often, children feel the need to choose a side to please the parent they have picked as the favorite. Children are sponges and absorb everything they see and hear, so when parents disrespect one another by insulting or yelling, it can be traumatic for them. Discussions about back child support, reimbursements for medical or dental appointments can give them the sense that money is scarce. Even if it is, that isn’t something they should be listening to. When children watch their parents fight, they think they are the reason their parents split up in the first place. They carry tremendous guilt, and this unhealthy relationship can cause resentment, hostility, and rebelliousness toward either parent or both.
How Can An Unhealthy Relationship Affect You?
First and foremost, scientists have directly linked the amount of stress a person has and their immune system. A never-ending cycle of colds, flu, stomach viruses, etc., can affect your work and home life, making you unable to function at anything more than the bare minimum. Depression and grief are expected, and getting professional help can slowly help you turn things around. Still, a toxic relationship with your ex will hinder your ability to connect with your family. Stress can affect your appetite and lead you to binge eating or eating very little. The routines you had of exercising, playing with your children, taking time to go to the movies, or having drinks with friends, are all pushed by the wayside, and you isolate yourself. This is a dangerous space to be in emotionally, and seeking the advice of a therapist is a necessary first step.
Contact a Family Lawyer to Help You Build A Good Co-Parenting Foundation in Middletown, Wall, Point Pleasant, and Mantoloking NJ
A divorce is never easy, and when managing the decision-making needed to protect your children can be frustrating when you and your ex cannot agree on much. It is helpful to have someone in your corner to guide you through the process of settlement, a parenting plan, and financial support for the spouse and children.
The first step you should take is to meet with your spouse and your lawyers to make a parenting plan with visitation dates and times clearly worked out, including holidays and vacations. Lawyers, like the ones at the Bronzino Law Firm, are superb negotiators and can help you build a parenting plan for your situation. Sometimes divorce brings out the absolute worst in people. There is hurt, anger, sadness, and fear. The family law professionals at the Bronzino Law Firm are compassionate, good listeners, capable of taking care of your and your children’s rights.
Let us show you the most effective strategies to complete your divorce as healthy as possible for your family. Call us at(732) 812-3102 or contact us online for your free confidential consultation. Our experienced lawyers provide service in Little Egg Harbor, Beach Haven, Manchester, Colts Neck, Belmar, Point Pleasant, Tinton Falls, and towns throughout Monmouth and Ocean County. Let our knowledge and experience provide you with the support you need most at this time.
Family Lawyers Discuss Steps to Secure Your Child’s Best Interest When Transitioning to a Second Home After Divorce in Middletown, NJ
A Child Calling Two Places Home? It’s Possible. Here’s How.
The transition for a child from a two-parent home to two one-parent homes can, understandably, be difficult and emotional for a child. In addition to getting used to shifting family dynamics, there are new environments and communities to navigate. All of this can be overwhelming for a child. For this reason, a divorcing couple with children must take special care to work as a team to support the child’s transition experience.
Creating a Positive Environment for the Kids After Divorce in NJ
The key to creating a positive environment for children after divorce is co-parent communication and collaboration. Moving from one home to two homes is hard enough for a child; conflict between parents adds an unnecessary stressor for them. Through a little planning, collective effort, and organization, co-parents can create a stable transition for their child that honors the child’s needs for consistency and participation in their changing life. Read on to learn specific tips for supporting your child through this time.
Essential Tips Parents Can Follow to Support Their Children in the One to Two-Home Transition
Have you ever felt the disconcerting feeling of walking through a dark space? You must continue forward, but you don’t know what to expect around you or whether there is danger at the next turn, leaving you in a constant state of uneasiness. This is one of the main feelings a child experiences when moving to a second home due to their parents’ divorce. They are unfamiliar with the home itself, the new school and community, and even with how the relationship with their parent will continue in this new reality. For this reason, supporting your child through this transition stage into two homes revolves around creating transparency and consistency.
Just like walking through a dark room, a child experiencing a post-divorce home transition will likely feel unsafe in the face of uncertainty. So, involving the child in as many of the transitional plans as possible is crucial for their sense of security. Inviting the child to help select furniture for the living room and their bedroom, inviting their new teacher and some neighbors or classmates over for a getting-to-know-you luncheon in their own (new) backyard, and creating a calendar of parenting time for them to keep track of their movements will all make the child feel more secure in their new reality.
Co-parents can also work together to create a sense of fluidity between separate-home experiences. For example, they can each agree to read to the child before bed, so the child can always count on that nighttime ritual, as well as agree on other daily routines that will occur in both households. Because a child is highly sensitive to stimuli and susceptible to an aggravated nervous system during this time, co-parents can decide on a calming scent such as lavender or rose geranium and each has candles or essential oil diffusers in the home to emanate that comforting and familiar smell.
Smoothing out the Split for a Child’s Adjustment to Multiple Homes
Just as the New Jersey Family Courts who oversee divorce and custody cases hold as their central pillar for action the best interests of the child, co-parents transitioning into life after divorce with their young ones would hold their child’s best interests as paramount to their decision-making. Far and away the most supportive way a parent can consider the child’s best interests in the transition to a two-home living situation is maintaining a sense of collaboration, respect, and consistency between the two parents and two homes.
If there is a conflict between parents, it should be addressed outside of the presence of the child; a child is not a pawn with which any parental conflict is played out. Do not put the child in the middle, and similarly, include the child in the expectation that one parent will not be pitted against the other so that the child gets what they want in a situation. Set up clear household rules for each home as well as shared guidelines and routines for both. Set a clear expectation with the child that what one parent says goes: the other parent will respect their co-parent’s good judgment and will trust consideration of the child’s best interests in their decision-making; as such, they will not undermine the other’s decisions.
Contact a Talented Brick Divorce & Child Custody Lawyer for Help Preparing for a Successful Split
A family lawyer can be invaluable support for the process of transition between one home to two homes and the enforcement of parenting time agreements and custody arrangements. If one parent is not respecting the court-enforceable agreements laid out in the divorce settlement, a family law attorney can advise the other in the best way to move forward with enforcement. In the best interests of the child, a skilled family law attorney will provide detailed advice regarding how to come to a mediated solution with the co-parent that maintains peace in the homes and consistency for the child. They will also be prepared to ensure that, for the child’s best interests, the custody arrangement and parenting time agreements are upheld by taking additional measures swiftly if necessary.
A skilled family law attorney is an important ally in the divorce transition process. Are you separating and have children? We successfully support divorcees across Manalapan, Rumson, Howell, Toms River, Freehold, Holmdel, Point Pleasant, Middletown, and towns throughout Monmouth and Ocean County to ensure that their family’s transition into a two-home situation is conflict-free.
At Bronzino Law Firm, we understand how important it is to maintain consistency for your child in big transitions. Contact us at (732) 812-3102 or through our online contact form for a free consultation to discuss your divorce.
When the decision to end a divorce comes to mind, it is important to consider all resources available, including a divorce coach.
A divorce coach provides many services neither a lawyer nor psychotherapist can provide entirely.
If you are anticipating or going through a divorce, you are probably not at your best. You are worried about the future, probably anxious at night and losing sleep. You are unsure of when or how you will see your kids and if there is enough money to support two households, among many concerns. While you may look to an attorney for answers to some of these questions, they can only provide you with legal solutions and suggest you seek counseling for emotional and psychological support. And a therapist can help you process grief, loss, depression, and anxiety that the divorce may cause you to suffer. On the other hand, a divorce coach has the experience that transcends the boundaries between the legal and psychological arenas and can help you manage and cope before, during, and after the divorce.
What is the Role of a New Jersey Divorce Coach?
A divorce coach can explain what you will go through in divorce, outlining the divorce process and what you might experience. They can help you set and complete your goals in the divorce and teach you how to communicate effectively with all the professionals you may have to contact. More importantly, they can teach you to communicate with your spouse during and after the divorce. Specifically, they can help you maintain a cooperative relationship with your spouse or ex regarding children and visitation, support, and other matters you must consider during a divorce and after.
For example, they can help you decide which divorce route to take, given your circumstances. You and your spouse may be able to mediate your differences if you are not that far apart in your demands on significant issues like spousal support, child custody, and property division. You might even settle the divorce together. But if that is not possible, your coach can advise you about going the litigation route. They can educate you about how much time in court you will spend, the paperwork you will need to gather, what court documents you will need to file, and the emotional toll such a proceeding takes on you. In that way, they can help you prepare for the divorce, teach you how to save money and time, and give you tips on dealing with your spouse. Divorces include a fair amount of negotiation. They can even help you to best support your attorney with all of the information they need and advise you how to best work with them. And during the divorce, they can help you formulate a parenting schedule that fits your family’s needs.
What are the Benefits of a Divorce Coach in New Jersey?
The primary benefit of a divorce coach is emotional support and practical guidance. You can get divorce coaching in a group setting, where you can meet others going through the same challenges. There, you may feel less alone and learn how others cope or what they do to resolve thorny issues. Group members also help one another stick to their goals and support one another as they reach milestones. Whether in a group setting or one-on-one, a divorce coach is a great leader and guide. They are trained and should be licensed in mental health but also have in-depth knowledge of divorce. So, from the authoritative perspective of a mental health professional, a divorcing spouse can learn about co-parenting, child development, and how divorce affects children. In addition, they can lend you the wisdom of their experience in coaching other divorcing couples to help you feel less overwhelmed by the divorce process.
With so many decisions to make when most feel less capable of making them, a divorce coach is an invaluable educator and sounding board. They hear you, respect your needs, and assure you that they are there throughout the divorce and beyond. When you are feeling less clear and emotional, a divorce coach can explain the options along with the pros and cons to each, when it comes to which type of divorce to choose, what parenting plan is right, and how to break the news to the children about the divorce. They can teach you to cope and envision your life after the divorce and acquire the education and resources to support yourself and your children. Finally, they can teach you how to reach compromises in disputes, communicate effectively and nonviolently, and create a parenting partnership with your ex.
Why Do You Need a Divorce Coach in Monmouth and Ocean County NJ?
Maybe you lost that person who once had your back in a dissolving marriage. That loss can be devastating. With a divorce coach, you can have that one faithful support at a time you need them the most. Coupled with a solid family law attorney, you have a solid team to help you get what you need for yourself and your family for a lifetime. Just like there is a right divorce coach for you, there is the most suitable, knowledgeable, and experienced divorce attorney. Though a family law attorney is busy advocating for your legal rights in a divorce, they are counselors also. They can inform you of issues arising from your spouse or attorney at each turn of the divorce and the law that applies to those issues. Further, they can direct you to the resources you may need, like accountants, psychologists, and other experts, depending on the circumstances of your divorce.
Most importantly, a seasoned divorce lawyer such as ours at Bronzino Law Firm, LLC can make you feel at ease that you are in good hands. From the planning stage of the divorce through the conclusion and beyond, our attorneys can offer you legal solutions to contested child custody, support, and asset and debt division. With vast experience in divorce, our family law team members are the ones to sit down with you and review a settlement agreement paragraph by paragraph, ensuring you understand the significance and consequences of each item.
Retain the Experienced Guidance of a Jersey Shore Divorce Attorney to Help you Find the Best Resources for Your Divorce Process
While your attorney informs you of your legal options, your divorce coach can help you as a sounding board to discuss the thoughts weighing on your mind and in the process of deciding which option is right for you. Your ideal team consists of highly qualified individuals in each field of expertise. At Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, we can help you and your spouse arrives at compromises, leaving only the select few impasses to a judge to decide if you and your spouse cannot agree, before which we do everything in our power to support your side of things. We can also provide legal solutions to spouses who default on their support obligations or violate parenting agreements and other court orders.
Our divorce lawyers have extensive experience advising and advocating for our clients in Rumon, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, Mantoloking, Bay Head, Brick, Toms River, Manchester, Berkeley, and towns around Monmouth and Ocean County. Contact us at (732) 812-3102 or through our online contact form to discuss your case.
Failed Mediation and its Aftermath in Monmouth and Ocean County NJ
Why do some mediations fail, and what happens next in the case that mediation falls through in a New Jersey divorce?
Getting a divorce in New Jersey is a stressful matter. In addition to the emotional processing both spouses have to do about the end of their current reality, there are also loads of logistics that must be addressed promptly in order to finalize the divorce. These logistics include the division of marital assets, spousal support payments, child custody and parenting time agreements, and child support payments.
When spouses work together collaboratively to come to a divorce settlement, the mental, emotional, and financial outcomes are more positive. In order to maintain this collaborative and amicable environment while details of the divorce are ironed out, divorcing couples often hire a mediator. Contrary to popular belief, a mediator isn’t there to help the couple get back together. Rather, they are a neutral third party, often a family law attorney, who helps facilitate negotiation of the terms of the divorce with the couple and their lawyers. The mediator is able to support the negotiation of a settlement when a couple’s desire to work together is active – and also their views about how best to divide their assets and their time with shared children are aligned. Unfortunately, mediation isn’t always successful for couples.
How Can I Support a Successful Mediation Process in Toms River?
In addition to entering mediation with a collaborative spirit, there are preparations that you and your family law attorney can undergo to provide a better chance for a satisfactory divorce settlement negotiation via mediation. The primary preparation you and your divorce attorney can discuss is which elements of your marital property are the most important to you moving forward, and which other elements you are willing to let go of. How flexible are you to give and take when it comes to the types of assets that you could be awarded? Equally important is that you discuss with your family law attorney your non-negotiables when it comes to the custody arrangement you will agree to for your children. When you and your legal team have a solid understanding of where you stand going into mediation, valuable time, energy, and money can be spared.
What are Some Possible Causes for the Failure of a Divorce Mediation?
There are two main reasons that divorce mediation doesn’t work. The first is that one or both spouses are so emotionally triggered by the divorce that they are unable to cooperate with the process in a collaborative way. The process of valuing and equitably distributing marital assets – let alone determining what the children’s path will be moving forward – is impossible to achieve when emotional distress prevents spouses from looking objectively at the situation to come to a fair agreement. Being in an emotional space in which each spouse can see that the divorce represents the ending of a legal agreement that opens the door for a more aligned future, and that there are material issues to address in order to get there, is essential for mediation to work.
The second reason many mediations don’t work is that each spouse of the divorcing couple has a completely different idea of what is a fair split, and which elements of the marital life they are unwilling to part with. Disagreements about the children’s custody also often lead to a failed mediation.
What Happens When a Divorce Mediation Does Not go as Expected in NJ?
A failed mediation can cause spouses to lose sleep, the ability to focus on their lives and professions, and money as additional measures must be taken to legally dissolve the marriage. While mediation generally takes between two and three months, the divorce court process is a much longer process, typically lasting around a year. That’s a lot of time, energy, and money to have to add to the divorce process! Unfortunately, mediation doesn’t always go as expected, and the couple can’t come to a suitable agreement.
What are Possible Next Steps After a Failed Mediation in New Jersey?
When mediation fails, there are a couple of next steps that a couple can take. The first is to continue the divorce negotiation process using only each spouse’s divorce attorneys. If helpful information has been brought to light about each spouse’s non-negotiables and needs through the mediation process, there is a possibility that negotiation can continue out of court.
Another option is to enlist the support of experts in the field, for example, a child psychologist if an area of impasse regards determining child custody.
Finally, litigation is the step that divorcing spouses take when they cannot reach an agreement out of court. In this case, a New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part judge reviews the case based on a number of state-approved factors to make a determination regarding the division of assets, custody arrangements, child support, and alimony. This is the most costly outlet, as in-court resolutions often take much longer, resulting in high attorney fees and other costs.
Contact a Brick, New Jersey Divorce and Mediation Attorney Today
A skilled family law attorney is an essential asset in an amicable divorce. Are you separating from your spouse and want to do so out of court? We’ve got your back. We successfully represent clients Lakewood, Middletown, Toms River, Howell, Jackson, Marlboro, and across Ocean and Monmouth Counties to help them move forward with their lives in a swift and resourced manner after a divorce.
At Bronzino Law Firm we get the nuances of divorce through mediation. Contact us at (732) 812-3102 for a free consultation to discuss your case, and let us help you resolve your divorce in a positive way.
The Rise of Platonic Parenting in New Jersey
Science has progressed in such a way that the possibilities to have a family are dizzying and have opened the door to the phenomenon of platonic parents.
The 1950’s image of a traditional family, man, and woman in a monogamous relationship, having children after marriage, has become only one of many different kinds of families. Now more than ever having a family does not necessarily follow marriage. Some couples prefer adoption in lieu of pregnancy, while others have their biological children and adopt more. For infertile couples, the option of surrogacy or IVF treatments opens the way for them to start a family. Even the family members have strayed from the “traditional” pattern. Heterosexual couples who choose not to get married, same-sex couples who get married and want children, a single man or woman who wants children without a partner and uses a sperm or egg donor.
What is Platonic Parenting?
Platonic parenting is a relationship between two people who want to have children without romantically getting involved with each other. These couples can be composed of friends, strangers, former coworkers, or acquaintances. Platonic parenting is especially popular in the LGBTQIA community. Some heterosexual couples opt for natural insemination even though they aren’t a couple in the romantic sense because other methods are prohibitively expensive. Gay and lesbian couples typically choose IVF, surrogacy, artificial insemination, or adoption. When sexual chemistry and a physical relationship are no longer factors, the child becomes the focus rather than the couple.
What are the Advantages of Platonic Parenting?
For many people who choose platonic co-parenting, a failed marriage or long-term relationship is in their close past, and as they didn’t have children with their now-ex-spouse, the biological clock is ticking. Perhaps they don’t want to be a part of another romantic relationship. Maybe their last one caused a lot of emotional traumas that they are just not willing to go through again. Sometimes married couples want their surrogate or the biological parents of an adoptive child to be a part of the family. These are basically strangers who would be parenting with them. Whatever the reason it is vital that all of the parties involved create an agreement regarding the raising of the child.
Developing a Platonic Parenting Agreement in NJ
The couple should have discussed the items before sitting down with an attorney and creating an agreement. Also, the smaller details such as, ”Do you have a good relationship with your parents?”, “Do you like your job?”, What do you do in your free time?”, “What are your religious beliefs?” and many others. This is not someone with whom a team science project is being done. It is a life-long investment in a relationship to raise a child cooperatively.
Examples of the items to include in the agreement are listed here:
- Who will attend the birth/prenatal appointments.
- The eventual explanation to the child of their relationship and conception
- Religious practices (if any)
- Child-rearing techniques and the use of a babysitter/nanny
- Who will make the medical decisions
- The child’s name
- Decisions about vaccines
- Visitations, holidays, and vacations
- Education, who will attend teacher’s meetings
- Financial responsibilities of each parent.
Many others can be added based on the concerns of the couple.
Platonic Parenting Pitfalls
No relationship is perfect. If we consider that a married couple is joined by their love for one another, a platonic couple’s strongest bond is their child. There may be jealousy issues when the platonic parents begin to see someone romantically. Maybe a romantic relationship leads to a move to another town or city. Sometimes one parent demonstrates a romantic interest in the other that is unrequited, and resentment builds. It is one thing to make an agreement, but when the rubber meets the road and decisions need to be made in the moment of discipline and education, there can often be discord. If one parent lives in a separate dwelling, finances can be strained and previous agreements of who would pay what and when they would pay it simply aren’t a possibility.
How To Make It Work
Making a platonic parenting relationship is hard work and very similar to a traditional parenting relationship. Communication is the key: expressing expectations, discussing concerns, being kind and thoughtful, being careful with what is said or texted. It is about expressing one’s concerns, fears, and anger maturely, keeping in mind the child is the focus of the relationship. Frequently discussing personal and family goals as well as checking in about the roles each parent should play are great ways to communicate. Respecting each other, whether it be a right to privacy, a romantic relationship, or social life, and avoiding jealousy or snarky remarks about the people with whom the parent chooses to go out.
Considering a Platonic Parenting Relationship? A Family Law Attorney in Brick NJ Can Guide You
There is a wide range of instances in which a lawyer can be of great help. First, they can help create the parenting agreement, which lists the roles and responsibilities of both parents along with other details. If there is difficulty getting both sides to agree, a lawyer can facilitate a mediator or a round table to hammer out the sticking points. If the parents decide to uncouple, visitation, support, custody issues, etc., will need to be worked out with an attorney.
There is a lot of planning and talking that goes into an agreement like this. Starting a family is a major step, and you want to do it in the best way possible. Now is a great time to get the ball rolling because the process will take some time. At our offices, we will more than happy to guide you in the entire process, if you live in Holmdel, Colts Neck, Rumson, Little Silver, or any other place across Monmouth and Ocean Counties, do not hesitate to get in contact with us.
At Bronzino Law Firm, LCC, our knowledgeable team wants to help your dream to have a family become a reality. We are here to walk you through this process and any challenge that may arise from beginning to end.
Contact us online or give us a call at (732) 812-3102.
How to Prove a Parent Unfit in a Divorce Case in New Jersey
Divorce is a tough decision to make and having children involved, the complexity becomes even harder to manage.
Divorce is no easy task. Even when separating spouses have an amicable relationship, emotional energies can reach explosive levels due to the many stresses that a divorce proceeding invokes. When children are involved, these conflicts between spouses can reach a whole new level. When parents cannot agree on a custody arrangement, and each is seeking sole or primary custody, their tactics for trying to prove that they are the right to fight for their children can include some downright nasty allegations against the other spouse.
In some cases, these allegations are simply the result of a battle for custody. In other cases, however, a spouse really is unfit to care for the children. If you’re trying to prove that it is not safe for your children to spend time with your ex, and they are unfit to care for your children and should have restricted visitation rights or none at all, contact our divorce and family law firm to learn how we can help protect your family.
What is the definition of an unfit parent in NJ?
According to New Jersey law, an unfit parent is someone who is unable to create a safe and nurturing environment for a child. This could look like a variety of different things: a parent who fails to properly protect and maintain the child, as well as to ensure that their educational needs are met, could be determined by the court to be unfit to care for the child. Another hallmark of a parent who is unfit to provide safety and nourishment for their child is one who engages in dangerous or reckless behavior that could endanger the child, such as someone who abuses drugs or alcohol or someone who has a history of violence in the home. Such a person could lose their custodial or parenting time agreement rights to visitation.
What constitutes an unfit parent in New Jersey?
A New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part judge will review a case against a parent alleged of being unfit to have visitation or custodial rights in a custody hearing. The judge will look for evidence that the parent has created physical, emotional, and psychological harm for the child.
This could include a parent who has:
- displayed dangerous behavior, either directly endangering the child or proving such behavior as habitual in or around the home;
- continuously struggled with alcohol and drug abuse;
- displayed mental health issues, either through examinations conducted in service of the child custody hearing, or prior;
- committed acts of domestic violence against the children or their ex-spouse;
- placed their child in danger by means of neglect.
How do you prove a parent unfit in Ocean County, NJ?
Proving that your ex-spouse is unfit to care for or visit your child is very difficult to do. This is because it is the New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part’s primary focus to keep the well-being of involved children at the center of all custody hearings. And, the Court considers that it is in a child’s best interest to spend time with both parents. As such, in order to prove that a parent is unfit, you must show that your child was harmed by the behavior of your ex-spouse, and it is, therefore, the child’s best interest to not interact with your ex.
In order to prove that your ex is an unfit parent, you will need to gather substantial proof. This could come in the form of documentation such as social media posts and photos that display reckless behavior, court records showing prior legal trouble as well as prior domestic violence claims, medical records evidencing substance abuse, documentation from your child’s school in which they have been reviewed by a school psychologist, and other New Jersey documentation.
You can also document behaviors that show potential for harm for the child. In 2019, the New Jersey Department of Children and Families updated its system for identifying and reporting child abuse. The “Allegation-Based System” can be drawn from to prove that a parent is unfit to have custodial access or visitation rights to a child. The fifteen factors for determining whether a parent is causing harm to a child and is therefore unfit to enjoy basic parenting time agreement rights are reasonably straightforward. In some cases, the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) will become involved, since they are required to initiate an investigation after receiving any report of child abuse or neglect.
Seek the advice of a Family Law attorney to help you make wise decisions for you and your children’s best interest in Brick, NJ
It is highly advisable to consult with a well-versed attorney who regularly handles New Jersey family law and child custody issues to ensure you have strong foundations for your case. When you retain one of the attorneys at Bronzino Law Firm, LLC., you know you can count on a professional who will walk by your side every step of the way. Moving through the law and all of its implications requires knowledge and experience that our attorneys have at your service.
Contact us online or call us today at (732) 812-3102 and allow us to help you in these troublesome times. We are ready to serve your needs as we often do for clients in Howell, Toms River, Manchester, Jackson, Lacey, Point Pleasant, Neptune, and Wall. You can also schedule an appointment to visit our offices in Brick and Sea Girt for a free consultation.