Category: Parenting Time
How to Prove a Parent Unfit in a Divorce Case in New Jersey
Divorce is a tough decision to make and having children involved, the complexity becomes even harder to manage.
Divorce is no easy task. Even when separating spouses have an amicable relationship, emotional energies can reach explosive levels due to the many stresses that a divorce proceeding invokes. When children are involved, these conflicts between spouses can reach a whole new level. When parents cannot agree on a custody arrangement, and each is seeking sole or primary custody, their tactics for trying to prove that they are the right to fight for their children can include some downright nasty allegations against the other spouse.
In some cases, these allegations are simply the result of a battle for custody. In other cases, however, a spouse really is unfit to care for the children. If you’re trying to prove that it is not safe for your children to spend time with your ex, and they are unfit to care for your children and should have restricted visitation rights or none at all, contact our divorce and family law firm to learn how we can help protect your family.
What is the definition of an unfit parent in NJ?
According to New Jersey law, an unfit parent is someone who is unable to create a safe and nurturing environment for a child. This could look like a variety of different things: a parent who fails to properly protect and maintain the child, as well as to ensure that their educational needs are met, could be determined by the court to be unfit to care for the child. Another hallmark of a parent who is unfit to provide safety and nourishment for their child is one who engages in dangerous or reckless behavior that could endanger the child, such as someone who abuses drugs or alcohol or someone who has a history of violence in the home. Such a person could lose their custodial or parenting time agreement rights to visitation.
What constitutes an unfit parent in New Jersey?
A New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part judge will review a case against a parent alleged of being unfit to have visitation or custodial rights in a custody hearing. The judge will look for evidence that the parent has created physical, emotional, and psychological harm for the child.
This could include a parent who has:
- displayed dangerous behavior, either directly endangering the child or proving such behavior as habitual in or around the home;
- continuously struggled with alcohol and drug abuse;
- displayed mental health issues, either through examinations conducted in service of the child custody hearing, or prior;
- committed acts of domestic violence against the children or their ex-spouse;
- placed their child in danger by means of neglect.
How do you prove a parent unfit in Ocean County, NJ?
Proving that your ex-spouse is unfit to care for or visit your child is very difficult to do. This is because it is the New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part’s primary focus to keep the well-being of involved children at the center of all custody hearings. And, the Court considers that it is in a child’s best interest to spend time with both parents. As such, in order to prove that a parent is unfit, you must show that your child was harmed by the behavior of your ex-spouse, and it is, therefore, the child’s best interest to not interact with your ex.
In order to prove that your ex is an unfit parent, you will need to gather substantial proof. This could come in the form of documentation such as social media posts and photos that display reckless behavior, court records showing prior legal trouble as well as prior domestic violence claims, medical records evidencing substance abuse, documentation from your child’s school in which they have been reviewed by a school psychologist, and other New Jersey documentation.
You can also document behaviors that show potential for harm for the child. In 2019, the New Jersey Department of Children and Families updated its system for identifying and reporting child abuse. The “Allegation-Based System” can be drawn from to prove that a parent is unfit to have custodial access or visitation rights to a child. The fifteen factors for determining whether a parent is causing harm to a child and is therefore unfit to enjoy basic parenting time agreement rights are reasonably straightforward. In some cases, the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) will become involved, since they are required to initiate an investigation after receiving any report of child abuse or neglect.
Seek the advice of a Family Law attorney to help you make wise decisions for you and your children’s best interest in Brick, NJ
It is highly advisable to consult with a well-versed attorney who regularly handles New Jersey family law and child custody issues to ensure you have strong foundations for your case. When you retain one of the attorneys at Bronzino Law Firm, LLC., you know you can count on a professional who will walk by your side every step of the way. Moving through the law and all of its implications requires knowledge and experience that our attorneys have at your service.
Contact us online or call us today at (732) 812-3102 and allow us to help you in these troublesome times. We are ready to serve your needs as we often do for clients in Howell, Toms River, Manchester, Jackson, Lacey, Point Pleasant, Neptune, and Wall. You can also schedule an appointment to visit our offices in Brick and Sea Girt for a free consultation.
Learn what the Parent Education Course is in New Jersey and its Role in Your Divorce
Fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce, and as unpleasant as it seems, the fact is divorce is as prevalent now as it has ever been. If you are going through a divorce that includes issues of visitation time, child support, or child custody, the courts in the State of New Jersey require that both parents take an education program to help them understand and meet their children’s needs in this highly stressful time. Completion must be proven and accepted before the court will issue a divorce decree.
If a parent doesn’t appear at the in-person version of the course or fails to finish the online version, the court will be notified, and the parent must give a reason for the absence.
As your children go with you through the emotionally difficult periods of separation and divorce, they will need extra care and support. This education program helps you provide that care and support, and it also helps parents build a healthy, beneficial co-parenting method and relationship.
The course’s official name is the New Jersey Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course, often referred to as the Parent’s Education Program, divorce parenting classes, the parent’s education course or seminar, and similar monikers. It was established by law through the New Jersey Parent’s Education Act, N.J.S.A. § 2A:34-12.1 – § 2A:34-12.8.
As we mentioned, the course is mandatory in divorce cases in New Jersey. But even if it weren’t required, it would be wise to enroll in the class because it will help your family considerably as you shepherd your children through separation and divorce. Also, it will give you and your children practical, lifelong skills.
What Topics Does the Parent’s Education Seminar Cover in NJ?
The thought of being required to take a course on parenting may feel burdensome during all the upheaval you’re going through with a separation and divorce. But you’ll find the course material to be highly relevant to your current situation, and it will provide parenting guidelines that will bring you and your children benefits for years to come.
The seminar offers strategies to prepare your family for the changes that are upcoming or already in the works. It gives helpful pointers on coping with the emotional stress you and your family are experiencing. It provides valuable tips on long-term divorce issues, such as how to co-parent after divorce and how to manage blending families in the event best you remarry.
In other words, this course helps you be the best possible parent during the divorce process and for a lifetime.
The seminar has nine sections that include the following topics:
- Divorce is a difficult loss
- Parenting is forever, and how to share the parenting
- How children develop throughout childhood and adolescence
- How to communicate with your children during the divorce
- How to communicate with the other parent
- How to manage time for parenting
- Resources for the future
The seminar’s other topic is the mediation of your divorce settlement, which is an alternative process to the more traditional litigation route.
Choosing the Parenting Course Provider in Ocean County
You will want to choose a parenting course approved by the State of New Jersey and that provides a certificate that will be accepted by all New Jersey courts that permit distance learning.
When searching for a course, you may need to search under related names:
- Children coping with separation and divorce
- Children in transition
- Parenting during divorce
- Reducing domestic conflict during divorce
- Parents avoiding conflict during divorce
- How to cope with divorce and separation
What is the Time Requirement?
The Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course can be completed entirely online. You do not need to physically drive to the course or visit a staff member in an office. The course is structured in time allotments of four, eight, twelve, or sixteen hours. Within the online course is a timer that keeps track of the time you spend on the course. You can stop and start as much as you need to, and your work will be saved.
Obtaining a Certificate that Proves Completion
When you complete the course, the software will instantly generate a certificate of completion and email it to you. You can forward the email with the certificate attached to the party that required you to complete the Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course.
Look for a school that guarantees that the certificate of completion will be accepted by New Jersey courts or that, if it is not accepted, will provide a refund of the fee.
With a bit of searching, you will be able to find a course that charges only a minimal fee, perhaps only a book fee of $20 or so.
Get in Touch with our Family and Divorce Team of Attorneys for a free consultation today
At Bronzino Law, we are tried and true professionals committed to helping families through the difficult transitions of separation and divorce. We provide our legal services and representation in places like Barnegat Light, Allenhurst, Bay Head, Asbury Park, Point Pleasant, and nearby Ocean and Monmouth Counties communities.
As a Family Law Firm, we highly encourage active participation in these types of parenting education programs and we can advise and assist you with making sure you complete the mandatory requirements during your divorce process.. Going through a divorce is not easy for the spouses, plus it may significantly affect the kids involved. The more information you have, the better the process will be for you and your children. We apply this in our day-to-day engagement with our clients, offering as much information as we can to make what seems confusing, more understandable.
Considerations for Parental Time and Child Refusal in Brick and Sea Girt, NJ
Contact us for assistance if you have questions regarding your child’s visitation refusal, need help enforcing a child custody order, or face a contempt of court charge related to your custodial agreement.
If you have a child custody order due to divorce litigation, a civil union dissolution, or because you are a grandparent or the unmarried parent of a child, your parenting time and visitation rights are legally protected and enforceable. If you refuse to comply with a visitation order with your co-parent or someone you share custody with, you risk being charged with parental alienation and being found in contempt of a court-mandated order and could face possible jail time, penalties, or a reduction in your own parenting-time.
NJ laws are set up to protect children and assure that their best interest is paramount. If your child refuses visitation, it requires your most objective perspective when listening to, acknowledging, responding, and reflecting on why they feel that way. Balancing the need to understand the situation at hand and to keep your child safe from possible emotional, psychological, or physical trauma resulting from a forced visit with an untrustworthy parental figure should not resulting in you violating the other person’s rights.
If you fear for your child’s safety or have previously been involved with high-conflict custody matters with the person you share custody with, contact an experienced Ocean and Monmouth County, NJ child custody attorney to discuss your options. An attorney can advise you on making the best decision, whether requesting emergency custody or arranging mediation to understand the issues at hand better. When your child’s safety is at stake, you may feel overwhelmed, but an experienced attorney can help you make informed decisions so you can fully exercise your rights and protect your child.
To speak with someone and arrange a free consultation related to your child custody issue, call our Brick, NJ office at (732) 812-3102.
At What Age Can A Child Refuse Visitation in NJ?
A child custodial order requires parents to ensure their child is reasonably available for visits with the other party and is a productive tool to help children maintain and build healthy relationships with their parents. Children can go through phases where they may not want to visit their other parent or may have peer-related activities that they would instead participate in. For the rejected parent, this can be painful.
When a child reaches the age of 18, they are considered adults, and adults can decide with whom they share their time. Even if that particular parent they are expected to visit pays child support, and the child has not yet graduated from high school.
Until that child reaches the age of adulthood, each parent is obligated to inform their co-parent when the child is ill or otherwise unable to make a scheduled visit. They are also expected to encourage the visitation process with their child. Of course, there are circumstances when parenting time is impossible, but exploring other options that facilitate or support “virtual visitations” should be explored.
Other Reasons Why a Child Might Refuse to See a Parent in New Jersey
If you have concerns that your child is the victim of child abuse or child neglect, or even in danger due to others who may live with or frequent the home of the other co-parent or guardian, you should contact the police and your attorney immediately. Due to the severe nature of this type of action, it should be used if your child is in imminent danger.
If you need to report abuse, contact the Division of Child Protection & Permanency Child Abuse Hotline (State Central Registry): 1-877-NJ ABUSE or 1-877-652-2873.
However, in most circumstances where visitation is not posing a danger to the child, you need to show a judge that you are doing everything you can to make visits possible. This could mean protecting yourself in these situations by carefully documenting facts and involving your child and the other parent in cases where a child refuses visitation.
Create a Safe Place and Listen to Your Child
When a child refuses visitation, it can be painful for one parent while putting the other in an emotionally challenging position. To gain better insight as to the reasons, one of the most important things to do is provide the child with a safe and comfortable space, so they can openly and freely talk with you.
Depending on the age of the child, if the visit is during the divorce process or following the marital settlement, these feelings may be due to the impact or inconveniences in their new life schedule (i.e., preferring visits with friends, hassles of changing homes, travel time between both locations, possibly missing out on another event or activity, etc.) or an emotional one where they feel either bored, ignored, they don’t have fun, or the co-parent is too strict.
Two options a parent may consider are: having your child discuss their feelings with a child psychologist or request that a child custody evaluation be conducted to get to the root cause of their refusal. Another option, especially in more contentious situations, is for your child to have their own attorney representing their needs and best interests.
Essentially, honesty and openness with both your child and the person with whom you share your custodial agreement can help relieve some of the stress and possible misunderstandings regarding the reasons for refusing visitations.
Practice Open and Compassionate Communication With Your Co-Parent
Because your custody arrangement and parenting time agreement are based on specific court-ordered schedules detailing how your child’s time will be divided between parents, each party has expectations regarding how the shared parental duties of childrearing will be. The reality is that the co-parenting experience requires a bit of flexibility if certain unforeseen (i.e., illness, transportation problems, etc.) circumstances occur and lots of open communication to make sure all parties are on the same page.
Slight adjustments to your parenting time schedule are probably not an issue for the New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part to weigh in on – unless one parent is actively withholding another parent’s rights to spend court-approved time with their child. Minor changes to recoup lost time can likely be managed through an informal agreement between the parents.
When it comes to parenting plans revised due to the COVID pandemic, the ability to compassionately or non-violently communicate for additional hours or days, especially as we move closer to the holiday season, is key.
If you have a successful co-parenting relationship, you could ask that person to call the child on the phone or via video chat or visit your house and you both try to speak with the child who is refusing visits.
A Family Court judge may express more understanding of a parent whose teenager refuses parental visitation, as compared to a five-year-old who does so. What you don’t want, in emotionally confusing situations like these, is for a judge to penalize you for your child’s defiance or your inability to discipline and control the child.
What If I Need to File A Motion for Contempt in Toms River, NJ?
We are prepared to collaborate with your spouse to reach a child custody arrangement peaceably. Still, we are also ready to aggressively defend your rights and needs in court if it becomes necessary.
If no other options exist, our family law team can assist with your case by making application to the court for contemptby your co-parent. In our complaint, we can assemble the most compelling body of evidence to suggest that your child’s other parent has not been abiding by the mandatory orders of the court with regard to parenting time and visitation.
Child Refusing Visitation in Ocean County? We can Help.
The team of attorneys at Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, over the years, has acquired extensive experience providing legal services to clients in Mantoloking, Lavallette, Jackson, Lanoka Harbor, Brick, Toms River, Lacey, and nearby places in all family law-related issues.
Mr. Peter Bronzino as the lead attorney in the firm, shares his experience with each of his clients by working side by side, with fluent communication along the way to help you determine what is the best path to follow in your particular case.
To speak with Peter Bronzino and the legal team today in a free and confidential consultation regarding any parenting, visitation, or child custody issue, please get in touch with us online or through our Brick, NJ office at (732) 812-3102 today.
Child Custody and Divorce Attorneys Dealing with Impacts of a Parent’s New Partner
Hashing out the details of kids, custody, and parental rights is complicated and must be carefully considered.
The division of assets and financial support that make up a traditional divorce are rabbit holes in and of themselves, requiring collaboration on the part of both ex-spouses. When it comes to children, however, an entirely different level of agreement and teamwork must be engaged in order for both parents to remain in the lives of their children. The New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part holds as its central priority the wellbeing of involved children; as part of this wellbeing, they will attempt to ensure that each parent spends significant time with the children if that is at all possible.
The Superior Court: Family part supports divorcing couples in addressing four main elements of legalese as it involves children: physical custody, legal custody, parenting time agreements, and child support payment. Read on to learn more about each of these elements of separating parents’ post-divorce reality, and what legal rights new partners have in the life of your children in New Jersey.
Can a new relationship affect custody in New Jersey?
In order to discuss the impact of a new spouse or relationship on rights when it comes to your children, it is important to understand that there are different types of custody in New Jersey and each imbues different rights. Custody in New Jersey contains two aspects: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody determines where the child will live: which parent will be the custodial guardian. Legal custody refers to how the parents will make decisions regarding their children. Such decisions could include how the child is educated, whether they will undergo medical treatments, what their religious upbringing will be, and what types of people and influences will be in the children’s life.
The main custody arrangements in New Jersey are sole custody, joint custody, and joint legal custody.
One parent has 100 percent custody
When one parent has sole physical and legal custody, their children live with them the vast majority or all of the time, and they are the legal guardian, having the sole right to make all decisions regarding their child. The other parent may have restricted visitation rights, often supervised, or they may have no rights at all. Sole custody in the physical and legal sense is often awarded to one parent when the other is deemed to be incapable of caring for the children, perhaps because of a history of domestic violence or drug abuse.
Both parents have equal rights
This arrangement constitutes the opposite of sole custody. In a joint custody arrangement, both parents share the physical and legal rights and responsibilities as it regards their children. As part of their parenting time agreement, both parents share equal time with the children, either through alternating nights and weekends or vacation time. Additionally, each parent has the right to a say in legal matters and upbringing considerations regarding the children.
One parent is with the children the majority of the time, but decisions are made together
In a joint legal custodial agreement, one parent is the primary custodial caregiver. This means that the children live with one parent and spend the majority of their time with them; however, both parents share equal decision-making rights regarding the children.
Does my ex’s new spouse have legal rights to make decisions for my children?
Regardless of whether you and your ex share physical and legal custody or your ex has sole custody, their new spouse does not have a legal say as it regards your children. While a new spouse, a step-parent, may try to step in with the intention of supporting your children, they do not have the legal right to do so. The only way they would obtain the legal go-ahead to make decisions for your children would be if they adopted them. In this case, you would have been approached to sign away your legal right to them at all, and chances are, you haven’t done that.
So is your ex’s new spouse attempting to step in to be the new parent? Are they showing up at school to pick them up, or putting their name on your child’s extracurricular documents as their emergency contact? If so, they do not have legal permission to do this. A school or after-school group can face heavy legal trouble if they allow your child to get into a car with someone who does not have legal caregiver rights or does not have written permission. Seek the support of a skilled family law attorney to ensure that your children are in good hands when they’re not under your care.
Contact our Attorney to Discuss Your Custody Case
If you are concerned that your legal rights as a parent are being usurped by your ex’s new spouse, it is important that you are backed up by a family law attorney like the ones you can find at the Bronzino Law Firm.
If you need help protecting your legal custodial rights, we’ve got your back. At Bronzino Law Firm, we successfully represent clients in Mantoloking, Beach Haven, Lavallette, Waretown, Lakewood, Asbury Park, Lacey, and Berkeley Township.
Call today at (732) 812-3102 for a free consultation to explore your possibilities. We will work towards protecting your parental rights and help you in your situation.
If Parents Disagree about COVID-19 Vaccines, an Experienced Divorce Attorney can Help
Many divorces are rife with disagreements, some can be worked out in one conversation, and others require several before a consensus is achieved.
If an agreement-even through mediation cannot be reached-it must be decided in family court. Each partner feels that their opinion makes the most sense, and the decision should go their way. Sometimes, the disagreement comes from an emotional place, whereas the content is not as important as is “winning.” Frequently, it is helpful to seek legal advice from a knowledgeable source who can give you direction.
This is especially the case when deciding whether or not the children will be vaccinated. With the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines, which are now available in pretty much every pharmacy around, the WHO has recommended that children ages 12 and up to be vaccinated due to the stronger Delta Variant, which has recently been identified as a stronger strain. That being said, opinions differ over vaccines and some parents inevitably fall on different sides of the issue due to religion, medical, and other considerations and priorities.
What about the Child Custody Agreements?
Before discussing which parent has the say-so regarding vaccines, one must identify the type of custody and the rights there within. The custody agreement identifies what kind of custody is endowed to each parent. Legal custody can also be sole or joint and refers to the parent’s educational, religious, and medical decisions (s) for the children. Sole physical custody enables a parent to have the children reside with him/her. Joint physical custody means the ex-spouses share physical custody of the children. Frequently, a schedule is worked out between the parents; many choose one week on and one-off or two weeks at a time. Parent’s Joint custody means that both parents must reach an agreement. If, after discussion, the parents disagree, a trip to family court may be the only solution.
What are my Scenarios in Case of Disagreement?
Hopefully, the disagreement will be solved between you and your former spouse; however, if that isn’t the case, keep the following in mind:
Parents’ Personal Opinions
Both parents are permitted to present evidence/experts to support their refusal to vaccinate their child or not. Historically, personal opinions are not as vital as professional testimony from the child’s medical providers.
This is also another point of contention when vaccinating or not vaccinating the children is in dispute. The court must be convinced, with evidence demonstrating a devout following of the religion, to give credit to the argument. Even then, it is frequently insufficient evidence to sway a decision.
This is also taken into consideration by the court when making its decision. If the father has spent a much greater percentage of time with the children and is opposed to vaccinating them, the court may rule in his favor.
Parents have their children’s best interests at heart. If one parent refuses to have their children vaccinated, due to a religious belief or a health concern, when an agreement cannot be reached between both parents, the court must decide. You must have the best legal representation to guide you through this process.
Contact our Family Law Attorneys for a Free Consultation
Our knowledgeable attorneys are ready to go to bat for you and protect you and your children’s rights at Bronzino Law Firm.
Our team is committed to listening to your personal argument and helping you reach an agreement in the child´s best interests. We encourage you to contact us for immediate help in this respect. We have successfully represented a multitude of clients in Brick, Sea Girt, Toms River, Lakewood, Berkeley, Wall Township, and across the Jersey Shore.
If you are involved in or anticipate becoming involved in a legal fight over the COVID-19 vaccine, we urge you to contact us online for a free initial consultation or through our office in Brick, New Jersey at (732) 812-3102.
Marital Settlement Agreement Attorneys Guide you through Enforcing a Family Court Order
Not all contracts are equal, and what may be considered fair by some may give others pause. When it comes to family law “contracts” or marital agreements such as an MSA (Marital Settlement Agreement) or a PSA (Property Settlement Agreement), it is up to the New Jersey courts to decide if it is enforceable or not. Generally, once an MSA has been executed, it is meant to be a final, binding contract between the parties, which sets forth the parties’ parenting time schedule, child custody arrangement, child support obligations and outlines the parties’ agreement concerning the equitable distribution of the marital property. Absent a strong reason or new evidence to disregard the contract, courts are strongly averse to go against their terms.
These settlements are reached through mutual agreement on a voluntary and consensual basis, with the intent to insure a sense of post-divorce stability and amicability. This is another reason why New Jersey Courts tend to look favorably upon such agreements and are reluctant to unnecessarily disturb or modify them, especially if the outcome was reached with the assistance of legal counsel.
But as with life, things can change significantly, and certain financial or personal events may warrant updating or modifying the original divorce decree. In the circumstances like that, the court has the power to make a post-judgment modification in a more equitable and just way. Almost any aspect of a divorce settlement can be modified, even after the divorce is final.
At the Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, we have extensive experience contesting marital agreements for clients from local Ocean County and Monmouth County communities, including Wall, Spring Lake, Sea Girt, Jackson, Howell, Point Pleasant, Toms River, and across Southern New Jersey. Our firm is built on the belief that a smaller firm size allows us to keep our clients informed and involved throughout the legal process. With this in mind, our divorce and family law firm will take the time to understand you and your family’s individual needs and concerns to provide high-quality, dynamic legal service.
Contact us online or call our office today at (732) 812-3102 to discuss the potential to contest, or defend, the terms of your existing marital agreement in a free and confidential consultation with a member of our qualified legal team.
Typical Areas of Divorce Settlements That Often Warrant Modification in New Jersey
If you agreed to your MSA under duress or coercion, signed a property settlement agreement that is unfair to you, greatly impacted your financial and parental rights and obligations since your divorce, or you let your divorce go to a default judgment, all may not be lost. As we have written about previously, almost all terms of a settlement agreement can be modified if the parties can demonstrate a “substantial change in circumstance,” such as loss of employment, a serious illness or medical condition, remarriage, retirement, and an increase in one’s financial status. As each case varies, filing post-judgment modifications may involve a modified increase or decrease in:
- child support,
- alimony obligation,
or a change in a:
- custody arrangement,
- parenting time arrangement,
- parental address (i.e., relocation application),
- child support obligation (i.e., termination of support or emancipation of a child).
Contact a Brick, NJ Divorce Agreement Modification and Enforcement Attorney Today
Our attorneys at Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, have spent years helping clients with divorce order modification and divorce order enforcement issues of all kinds in towns across Ocean County and Monmouth County, including Middletown, Manchester, Berkeley Township, Jackson, Beach Haven, and Brick.
We are a small firm that allows us to provide our clients with the attentive legal service they need and deserve while still charging fair and reasonable rates for our counsel. Attorney Peter Bronzino strongly believes that by keeping each of his clients highly informed and involved throughout the legal process and listening closely to their unique needs and concerns in any divorce or family law matter, he can better work to achieve the type of resolutions that best meets those needs and concerns, and protects his client’s and their family’s legal, financial, and familial futures.
To speak with Peter Bronzino and our legal team today in a free and confidential consultation regarding any post-divorce modification or enforcement issue, please contact us online or through our Brick, NJ office at (732) 812-3102.
Revising Co-parenting Plans as Families go Through this Unprecedented Pandemic in New Jersey
The current public health emergency has taught us that to protect parental rights, and children, custody agreements must be flexible and adapt to the Covid-19 pandemic’s limitations. This new factor needs to be considered by spouses who have separated in 2021 and are in the process of creating temporary custody arrangements.
What Is A Co-Parenting Or Custody Plan?
A co-parenting plan is a legally binding written document that describes how separated or divorced parents will raise their children. A co-parenting plan during this public health situation and at any other time for that matter, is designed to keep in mind the children’s best interests and carefully outline the time-sharing schedule that each parent should comply with. Other data such as scheduling, decision-making regarding the children, and exchanges of information, are some of the most basic ones that should be included in the plan. The Co-Parenting Plan should also state how parents will communicate on behalf of the children, extra-curricular activities, and resolve any issues the parents might share, such as traveling with children out of state during the crisis.
How To Create a Covid-19 Custody Contract
Establishing a Covid Contract to agree on safety precautions, travel guidelines, and specific parenting time arrangements applicable to the pandemic only (for example, switching from in-person reunions to virtual sessions) is advisable for separated or divorced parents.
When setting up the agreement, an option is limiting it to the duration of the pandemic and making that clear when recording it. For example, including a disclosure such as “This agreement is in effect for the duration of the pandemic,” or “This agreement is in effect until XXX date.” Also, additional variables should be included in the agreement, such as it being effective only until full-time in-person school is resumed or until one of the parents goes back to working full-time at an office location.
Important Data to Include In a Co-Parenting Plan
Below are some basic guidelines for issues you might encounter when creating a new temporary parenting plan.
- Choose the most appropriate way to split the time the child spends with each parent.
- Outline any other restrictions based on behavior issues that both parents should agree on, like screen time, social media, TV shows, and movies that are not recommended for other children the same age.
- Set up a meticulous homeschool itinerary, different from regular at-home spare time.
- Establish rules for interacting with people external to the home.
- Design rules regarding parental behavior to provide the child with a consistent role model, based on State and County public health guidelines.
- Describe the rules for child exchange, complying with the pandemic’s restriction related to travel and quarantine needs.
- Contingency plan to reschedule any missed parenting time due to pandemic restrictions. A parent who is limited to only Zoom meetings might want to be allowed to have some extra in-person time once the pandemic ends.
- Holiday time-sharing schedule, considering holiday activities and traditions, encourages the children’s notion of not changing their lifestyle.
- Most importantly, establish how long the agreement will be enforced and details regarding how the co-parenting agreement functions once the initial plan ends.
Covid-19 Parenting Plan Duration
After the plan has been recorded in writing, parents can also want to revisit the plate on a scheduled agreed date to ensure everything should be kept the same or if any temporary changes need to be added to benefit. Perhaps, creating a Covid Plan or Non-Covid Plan.
Contact our Knowledgeable Co-Parenting Lawyers for a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one are going through a separation or are already divorced and would like to ensure the children’s right to healthy co-parenting during the Covid-19 pandemic, you are entitled to seek a Child Custody Lawyer better guide you.
At Bronzino Law Firm, we take pride in successfully representing clients in Brick, Sea Girt, Toms River, and Wall Township and across the Jersey Shore. Whether you are currently going through a custody battle or only need to revise your co-parenting plan, contact
Attorney Peter Bronzino and our highly qualified legal team are prepared to handle your case, starting with a free and confidential consultation about your divorce or custody issues in Monmouth County, Ocean County, and surrounding areas. Please contact us online or through either our Brick or Sea Girt, NJ offices at (732) 812-3102.
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 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 stay 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 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 Brick, NJ Family Law/Divorce Lawyers for a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one faces 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.