Tag: Brick and Sea Girt Family Law Offices

Guardianship Attorneys in Monmouth and Ocean County, NJ

You raised your child with a cognitive disability all their life, and now, at age 18, the law considers your child an adult.

Legal Guardianship for Adults with DisabilitiesWhile they are legally an adult, they are unable to make adult decisions and live independently. Like many disabled adults, your child cannot open a bank account, write a check, make a doctor’s appointment, or maintain a job, so they need assistance meeting life’s daily necessities. But once your child is no longer a minor, you have no authority to act on your child’s behalf without legal permission to act as their guardian.

What are the Types of Guardianship in New Jersey?

A guardianship is a legal authority a court grants to someone to act for another. So, an adult child may be a legal guardian for a parent who no longer has the mental capacity to protect their interests and safety. Likewise, a parent can be a guardian of an adult child for the same reasons. But the powers granted to the guardian depend on the capacity of the person who needs care. For example, a developmentally delayed adult who can express their wishes but cannot comprehend contracts, drive a car, or navigate the maze of phone options when calling a medical office may need a limited guardianship. On the other hand, a severely autistic adult may need a general or plenary guardianship for someone to make all decisions.

What is better power of attorney or guardianship in Toms River?

However, before applying for guardianship, you might consider if alternative measures address your situation. For example, an adult child can authorize you to be involved in their educational and healthcare planning. You can attend their meetings with special education counselors and Individualized Education Program sessions. Your child can also designate you as the person to consent to their emergency medical care. And finally, your child can appoint you as power of attorney (POA) over their affairs if they understand what that means. They must know that a POA authorizes you to make decisions concerning their person or property, or both, depending on its terms until they revoke or change it. A POA is quicker and less expensive than guardianship but may not be appropriate for someone with mental illness or moderate to severe cognitive deficits.

What are some reasons for guardianship?

Some situations require guardianship. And since guardianships essentially deprive an adult the right to direct their affairs and have agency over their life, a court ordering guardianship wants to ensure the petitioning guardian has the ability and motivation to make the right decisions for the ward (person who needs the guardianship). The guardian should encourage independence, involve the ward in decision-making to the extent possible, and act within the ward’s bests interests. That may mean arranging health, education, and social opportunities that enhance the incapacitated adult’s life. Knowing what is suitable for an adult child may be easier when they are your child, especially if they have already received services to help them.

For example, if your child received state services for care, therapy, or assisted learning, they may have already had a guardianship assessment by New Jersey’s Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD). The Division evaluates a child’s ability to make life choices and live an independent life. Since guardianship is essentially giving up their right to independence, they also want to know if the child understands the guardianship process. Otherwise, the New Jersey Supreme court decides to grant guardianship for someone who has not received state services. The determination hinges on the adult child’s decision-making capability and understanding of the guardianship proceedings.

Guardianship Process in NJ

Family Law and Guardianship Attorneys in Monmouth County, New JerseyThe guardianship process begins with a petition to the superior court, either by the DDD or an individual, typically the person requesting to become the guardian. A guardian can be a family member, a trusted adult the family trusts, or the Bureau of Guardianship Services. Co-guardians may also be an option. The petitioning individual may petition pro se, acting on their behalf or through an attorney. After receiving the guardianship petition, the court schedules a hearing. At the hearing, the court determines the necessity for and extent of guardianship. The court reviews the opinions of minimally two doctors and a court-appointed lawyer on the question of incapacity before granting or denying the guardianship petition.

If granted, the guardianship requires the guardian to act in the best interests of the adult charge and obey any court’s specific orders. Additionally, the court may limit the guardian’s powers. For example, the court may restrict guardianship to decision-making over healthcare, financial, or educational matters, or only one area. It depends on the ward under consideration and the changes that may occur throughout their life. As such, the DDD reviews guardianships annually, and a court may replace a guardian if the appointed guardian dies or becomes incapacitated. A court can also add a co-guardian upon request of the appointed guardian.

Can you file for guardianship without a lawyer?

While it is possible to obtain guardianship on your own, you should seriously consider getting the help of an experienced guardianship and family law attorney who knows how the courts work and what they require to grant guardianship. The court rules and legal requirements to filing the proper documents may be confusing, and you could waste time getting your documents rejected or your hearing rescheduled for incomplete information. A skilled guardianship lawyer can also review the options with you. When a POA or other alternatives to guardianship are better for your family, your attorney can highlight the pluses and minuses of a critical decision and help you arrive at the best solution.

Contact our Guardianship Attorneys in Brick, NJ to explore the options that fit your and your children’s needs.

In addition to immediate concerns, a guardianship attorney can help you down the line. At Bronzino Law Firm, we can not only help you plan for and prepare your guardianship petition but speak on your behalf at the hearing to address any questions the court may have. Often, courts want to know more than a petition provides. Our legal team can ensure that guardianship covers the specific needs of your child. Then, if changes are necessary for the future, we can help you petition the court to make any changes after the guardianship is in effect. If you have questions or concerns, consult with a knowledgeable attorney at The Bronzino Law Firm who can advise and guide you on this critical life decision.

We assist clients with guardianship-related matters for disabled children and other loved ones throughout Ocean and Monmouth Counties, including in towns such as Lakewood, Jackson, Manchester, Little Egg Harbor, Lacey, Toms River, and Berkeley Township. Contact our Brick office at (732) 812-3102 for a free consultation and find answers and guidance directly related to your situation.

Important Steps when Adopting Internationally in Monmouth & Ocean County and across NJ

Adoption, especially from an international pool of deserving children, can be an overwhelming experience.

International Adoption Process in New JerseyThere are a myriad of things to consider when making decisions about your international adoption, and laws and procedures regarding the international adoptions process are different from intrastate or interstate practices. When entering into such a potentially overwhelming situation, it is helpful to have some guiding information and steps to prepare. Read on to learn more about international adoption laws in New Jersey and some tips on how to move thoughtfully and confidently through the international adoptions process.

New Jersey Laws on International Adoption

The process of adopting a child from a different country carries specific procedures in New Jersey. For the state to recognize an internationally adopted child as a New Jersey citizen, the child must meet two qualifications:

Once the family of the child has provided evidence of these two qualifications met and has offered to the State Register

  • The child’s birth certificate; and
  • The official copy of the judgment from the country in which the child was born,

the child will officially become a New Jersey citizen.

Tips for a Successful International Adoptions Process, Neptune

Be Reflective

The process of deciding that you want to adopt is a long one. There is no rush in Love, and that’s precisely the state of being you’ll want to be inviting your new child into. Be honest and reflective as you consider international adoption. Allow the following questions to guide your review:

  • Why do I want a child?
  • What do I hope having a child from another country will bring to my life?
  • What do I hope to bring to the life of a child from another country?
  • What country do I want to adopt a child from? Why?
  • What cultural and social norms and gems of the country’s culture do I want to ensure that my child grows up knowing and developing?
  • Is adoption legal and ethical in the country I am considering?
  • What can I do to support the child, my family, and myself in the transition, which can often be traumatizing?

Do Your Research

Throughout the entirety of your experience, from first considering adoption to bringing your new child home and beyond, you’ll want to make sure that you’re equipped with reliable information from reputable resources, as well as subjective testimonials from parents (and children) who have gone through this process. Nothing can prepare you emotionally to become an adoptive parent, but having a plethora of resources and experiences at your disposal to digest can only help you ensure that you make the correct decisions for your life and family.

Closely Consider Which Placement Agency You Want to Work With

An adoption or placement agency is the company that will serve as a liaison between you and the adoption agency in the child’s home country working to place the child. Legally, to become a New Jersey adoptive parent, you must work with a New Jersey placement agency. Choosing a placement agency is another area in which research is essential to facilitating a smooth and successful adoptions process. Read up on the agency’s self-proclaimed mission, ethics, and practices, and then read plenty of adoptive family reviews. VeryWellFamily.com recently published their top seven adoption agencies. These are just a handful of placement agencies. While these are just some of the available placement agencies that would have sectors in New Jersey, it’s a reputable place to start your research.

Elect Your Home Study Agency

International Adoption Agencies in NJOnce you have begun the adoption process by entering into a contract with a placement agency and empowering them to start to make contacts in your chosen country, you’ll be responsible for completing a home study with a licensed agency or social worker. Your home study is your opportunity to share who you are as a person or family and what type of circumstances the child you wish to adopt will come into.

The home study agency must be licensed for the work in New Jersey, and in some cases, they must be a Hague-approved agency. Be thorough in your background research as you align your adoption placement agency and your home study agency, as some adoption agencies only work with specific home study agencies. Additionally, as noted above, some countries from which you may be looking to adopt a child – countries that have signed the Hague agreement – will only agree to adoption processes with home study agencies that have signed the Hague agreement.

Considering International Adoption? Contact our NJ Family Law Attorney to Discuss Your Situation

If you are considering international adoption, it is essential to have skilled legal representation. It is an important decision and you need to cover all fronts. At our Brick, NJ offices, our team of attorneys will take the time to ensure you have all you need to move forward in the right direction. If you are engaged in the adoption process, we can help you walk through and effectively navigate the road ahead.

Contact Bronzino Law Firm at (732) 812-3102 to schedule a free consultation and get the answers and the information you need to make a well-informed decision regarding your international adoption case. If you need assistance in Lakewood, Howell, Point Pleasant, Belmar, Lacey, Toms River, or another town in South Jersey, reach out to us, and let’s talk.

Monmouth County Birth Fathers Do Have Rights

Monmouth County Birth Fathers Do Have RightsTypically, most decisions during pregnancy are made by the mom-to-be, including testing, healthcare and birth choices and the decision about adoption.  Each of these is a very important and life-altering decision, especially for the life of the yet-to-be born child.

To gain parental rights, including child custody, or even the right to object to adoption, biological fathers who are not married to the mother must not only establish paternity, but also demonstrate a genuine commitment and fitness to parenting their child. In this article we will discuss the importance of establishing paternity, and then clarify what is meant by a “genuine commitment” and “fitness”.  Finally, we will take a brief look at your options if you didn’t give consent to the adoption of your child.

Establishing Paternity

A biological father who is not listed on a birth certificate can still establish paternity. Talk to a legal expert as at The Bronzino Law Firm, with offices conveniently location in both Monmouth and Ocean County.   Paternity indicates your acknowledgement that you are the child’s father and that you agree to take legal responsibility for your child. Depending upon the circumstances, for example the relationship with the mother, taking custody can be an easy or challenging task. If the mother refuses to sign the affidavit of paternity, there is you have the option to request a DNA test that would establish paternity.  Your lawyer can advise and facilitate your best options.

Demonstrating a commitment

Monmouth County Birth Fathers Do Have RightsThis means demonstrating a larger and lifelong commitment to parenting. It includes showing that the father is prepared to provide for his child’s material and emotional needs, as well as to developing the fullest possible parental relationship with the child. Typically, this can be shown by contributing to cover child-related expenses for prenatal care, birth and child support after delivery. Contributing to the cost of prenatal healthcare is particularly important because this demonstrates your commitment to your child even before birth.

Although a birth father may want to check on the mother’s test results, be present at doctor’s appointments, or otherwise be involved with prenatal healthcare and birth; he can be prevented from participating if the mother does not approve. A father’s participation requires the consent of the mother. Under the privacy laws, neither spouses nor unwed parents are entitled to access the medical records of the other without authorization. However, once the child is born HIPAA allows either parent the right to see their child’s medical records.

Show yourself as “fit” to be a father and to parent

Fitness to parent is a multi-sided determination that is considered formally and has important legal ramifications.  Often, when considering the fitness of the father to parent, a judge will want to know if there is any instance of abuse, addiction, incarceration, and/or psychological instability, to name a few. If an abusive trend is perceived, it unlikely that a person will be considered fit to parent, either mother or father.  Another concern is to check to see if a child has or would suffer from neglect. To be fit you will need to show that you are willing and able to parent, that you will be there for the child and that you have a good and reliable support structure to care for the child.

Fathers who do not provide support during pregnancy and beyond, who cannot show the ability to provide support, or who have demonstrated drug/alcohol problems or a have a tendency to violence will almost certainly be denied the right to object to adoption.

Be active before and after birth

The extent to which an unmarried father has the opportunity to play a parental role in the child’s life often varies. However, by doing everything you can including acting with responsibility both before and after birth, demonstrating your genuine concerns for the best interests of your child and seeking legal recognition of your parental rights as soon as possible will all help you to establish your rights to have custody or a say in an adoption and/or in any other parental decisions.

What happens if you didn’t give consent?…

If the mother of an unborn child has discussed adoption and depending on circumstances and the laws, a father who objects to the adoption of his child should file an objection to the adoption in the appropriate court, and possibly with the state health and human services department. Often, an objection to adoption must include an indication of intent to petition for custody of the child in a short period of time, 30 days, for example.

YOUR LAWYER CAN HELP

To Know Your Rights as an Unmarried Father, Get Legal Guidance Call The Bronzino Law Firm serving towns across Monmouth and Ocean County for a free consultation

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When compared to the obligations and demands of motherhood, the biological requirements of fatherhood are quite simple. This means that a father’s rights with respect to his children are less clear than those of the mother. Traditionally, mothers retain nearly all of the decision-making rights regarding an unborn child. Nonetheless, with the assistance of an attorney, birth fathers can still take actions on behalf of their child.

If you have any questions about your rights and obligations as an unmarried father call The Bronzino Law Firm  serving in Ocean and Monmouth County today to talk to a legal representative who has experience in family law.

As an expectant father, the fact that you cannot physically carry your child to term does not mean you don’t have some rights (and responsibilities) with respect to your child’s well-being. You can protect your child’s interests along with your rights as a father by meeting with an attorney at The Bronzino Law Firm . The earlier you act, the more convincing your case will be to a judge.  Get started today by contacting an experienced family law attorney at The Bronzino Law Firm to provide counsel on your child custody matter in Sea Girt, Spring Lake, Brick, Toms River, Lakewood and across all of Monmouth and Ocean County.