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Englewood Child Custody Lawyer Doing What It Takes To Protect Your Rights

Englewood Child Custody Lawyer

Preserving the Best Interests of Your Children

The bond between you and your children is unbreakable, but divorce naturally brings about changes in certain aspects of your relationship with them. This includes the frequency of your visits and the way you make crucial decisions regarding their upbringing. At Herbert & Weiss, LLP, our team of child custody lawyers in Englewood can assist you in comprehending these significant changes. We will advocate for your rights during settlement negotiations or litigation, ensuring a continued, meaningful relationship between you and your children—one that prioritizes everyone's well-being and the best interests of the kids.

To schedule a consultation with our Englewood child custody attorneys, please call (201) 500-2151 today!

Who Can File for Custody in NJ?

In New Jersey, various individuals can file for custody depending on their relationship to the child and the specific circumstances.

Examples of who may be eligible to file for custody:

  • Parents: Biological or adoptive parents have the right to file for custody of their children. This includes both mothers and fathers, regardless of marital status.

  • Legal Guardians: A legal guardian, who has been appointed by the court to care for the child's well-being, may file for custody.

  • Relatives: Certain relatives, such as grandparents, may have the ability to seek custody if it is in the child's best interests. New Jersey law recognizes the potential importance of maintaining relationships with extended family members under certain circumstances.

  • De Facto Custodians: A de facto custodian refers to an individual who has been the primary caregiver and has formed a close bond with the child, even if they are not the biological or adoptive parent. In some cases, de facto custodians may be able to file for custody.

  • Others with a Legitimate Interest: In exceptional cases, individuals who can demonstrate a legitimate interest in the child's welfare may be allowed to seek custody. This could include stepparents, close family friends, or individuals who have played a significant role in the child's life.

The eligibility to file for custody may vary depending on the circumstances, and the court will ultimately determine custody based on the best interests of the child. Consulting with a Englewood child custody attorney is recommended to understand your specific rights and options regarding filing for custody in New Jersey.

New Jersey Child Custody Laws

Child custody laws in New Jersey govern the allocation of parental responsibilities and decision-making authority for children in cases of divorce, separation, or disputes between parents.

Legal and Physical Custody

In New Jersey, custody is divided into two types: legal custody and physical custody.

  • Legal Custody: Legal custody refers to the right and responsibility to make important decisions regarding the child's upbringing. This includes decisions about the child's education, healthcare, religious upbringing, and general welfare. Legal custody can be awarded solely to one parent (sole legal custody) or shared by both parents (joint legal custody). Joint legal custody means that both parents have equal rights and responsibilities to make decisions regarding the child's well-being.

  • Physical Custody: Physical custody refers to where the child primarily resides and the day-to-day care of the child. It involves providing a home and meeting the child's basic needs, including food, clothing, and supervision. Physical custody can also be granted solely to one parent (sole physical custody) or shared by both parents (joint physical custody). Joint physical custody means that the child spends significant time living with each parent.

Types of Custody

Custody arrangements can vary depending on the circumstances. Joint custody, where both parents share legal and physical custody, is favored in New Jersey unless it is determined not to be in the child's best interests. Sole custody refers to a custody arrangement in which one parent has the primary legal and/or physical custody of the child, while the other parent may have visitation or parenting time rights.

Joint Custody

  • Joint Legal Custody: With joint legal custody, both parents have an equal right and responsibility to make important decisions regarding the child's upbringing, including education, healthcare, religious upbringing, and general welfare. It requires cooperation and communication between the parents to make decisions in the best interests of the child.

  • Joint Physical Custody: With joint physical custody, the child spends significant time living with both parents. This allows the child to have frequent and ongoing contact with both parents, ensuring that both parents play an active role in the child's day-to-day care and upbringing. The specific schedule for joint physical custody can vary, and it should be designed to meet the child's needs and the parents' availability.

Sole Custody

  • Sole Legal Custody: With sole legal custody, one parent has the exclusive right and responsibility to make important decisions regarding the child's upbringing. This parent has the final say in matters related to the child's education, healthcare, religion, and general welfare.

  • Sole Physical Custody: With sole physical custody, the child primarily resides with one parent, and the other parent typically has visitation or parenting time rights. The non-custodial parent may have scheduled visitation periods or specific time with the child according to a court-approved parenting plan.

Best Interests of the Child Standard

New Jersey courts prioritize the best interests of the child when determining custody arrangements. The court considers several factors to determine what custody arrangement or parenting plan would be in the child's best interests.

Factors considered when determining what's in the best interest of the child include:

  • Safety and Well-being: The court prioritizes the child's safety and well-being above all else. They will consider factors such as any history of domestic violence, child abuse, substance abuse, or other harmful behaviors that may affect the child's safety.

  • Parent-Child Relationship: The court evaluates the quality and nature of the child's relationship with each parent. They consider factors such as the emotional bond, history of involvement in the child's life, and the ability to provide love, care, and guidance.

  • Stability and Continuity: The court takes into account the child's need for stability and continuity in their living arrangements, school, and community. They assess the potential impact of any proposed custody arrangement on the child's routines, relationships, and overall well-being.

  • Parental Fitness: The court evaluates the physical and mental health of each parent and their ability to meet the child's needs. Factors such as parenting skills, willingness to cooperate, and the ability to provide a stable and nurturing environment are considered.

  • Child's Preferences: Depending on the child's age, maturity, and ability to form an informed opinion, their preferences may be taken into consideration. The court may consider the child's expressed desires regarding custody or visitation arrangements, but this factor is not determinative and is balanced against other factors.

  • Siblings and Extended Family: The court considers the importance of maintaining relationships with siblings and extended family members, especially if it is deemed beneficial to the child's well-being.

  • Co-Parenting Ability: The court assesses the ability of each parent to cooperate and communicate effectively with each other in matters related to the child's upbringing. The willingness of each parent to support and encourage a positive relationship between the child and the other parent is also considered.

Mediation and Court Proceedings

New Jersey encourages parents to resolve custody disputes through mediation or alternative dispute resolution methods. If an agreement cannot be reached, the court may intervene and make a custody determination based on the evidence presented during a custody hearing.

Child Custody Mediation
  • Mediation Process: Mediation is a voluntary process in which parents work with a neutral third-party mediator to reach a mutually acceptable custody agreement. The mediator helps facilitate communication, assists in identifying common goals, and helps parents generate potential solutions.

  • Benefits of Mediation: Mediation provides parents with an opportunity to actively participate in crafting a custody agreement that suits the best interests of their child. It promotes cooperation, reduces conflict, and allows parents to maintain more control over the outcome. Mediation can also be more cost-effective and less time-consuming compared to court proceedings.

  • Court-Ordered Mediation: In some cases, the court may order parents to attend mediation before proceeding to court. This is done to encourage parents to resolve their custody disputes amicably and to alleviate the burden on the court system.

  • Mediation Agreement: If parents reach a mutually satisfactory agreement during mediation, it can be documented in a written parenting plan. The parenting plan outlines custody arrangements, visitation schedules, decision-making authority, and other relevant provisions.

Court Proceedings for Child Custody Matters in NJ
  1. Filing a Custody Complaint: If mediation is unsuccessful or not appropriate for the situation, a parent may file a custody complaint with the court to initiate court proceedings. The complaint outlines the requested custody arrangements and the reasons for seeking a particular custody arrangement.

  2. Legal Representation: It is advisable for parents involved in custody court proceedings to seek legal representation from a family law attorney experienced in child custody matters. An attorney can provide guidance, advocate for the parent's interests, and navigate the court process.

  3. Custody Evaluation: In some cases, the court may order a custody evaluation, which involves an assessment conducted by a mental health professional or expert. The evaluator gathers information about the child and each parent, interviews the child and parents, and may observe interactions. The evaluator then provides a report to the court, which may influence the custody determination.

  4. Custody Hearing: If the parents cannot reach an agreement or resolve their disputes through mediation, a custody hearing will be scheduled. During the hearing, both parents present their arguments, provide evidence, and testify regarding their proposed custody arrangements and the child's best interests. The court will consider the evidence, including any custody evaluations, and make a custody determination.

Modification and Enforcement of Custody

Custody arrangements can be modified if there is a significant change in circumstances or if it is in the child's best interests. Violations of custody orders can be enforced through court actions, including contempt proceedings.

Modification of Custody Orders
  • Substantial Change in Circumstances: To request a modification of a custody order, the parent seeking the modification must demonstrate a substantial change in circumstances that warrants a modification. This change must affect the child's best interests and be significant enough to justify revisiting the custody arrangement.

  • Types of Modifications: Modifications can be sought for both legal custody (decision-making authority) and physical custody (residential arrangement). Examples of substantial changes in circumstances that may support a modification include a parent's relocation, changes in the child's needs or preferences, a parent's remarriage or new relationship, a parent's inability to provide adequate care, or instances of abuse or neglect.

  • Filing a Motion: To initiate the modification process, a parent must file a motion with the court that issued the original custody order. The motion should outline the reasons for seeking the modification and provide evidence supporting the claim of a substantial change in circumstances.

  • Custody Evaluation or Investigation: In some cases, the court may order a custody evaluation or investigation to assess the proposed modification and its impact on the child's best interests. The evaluator or investigator will gather information, conduct interviews, and may make recommendations to the court.

  • Court Decision: The court will review the motion, evidence, and any recommendations from the custody evaluation or investigation. They will then make a determination based on the best interests of the child. The court may modify the custody order accordingly or maintain the existing arrangement if the requested modification is not deemed necessary or in the child's best interests.

Enforcement of Custody Orders
  • Violation of Custody Order: If one parent violates a custody order by denying visitation or parenting time to the other parent, the aggrieved parent can seek enforcement through the court.

  • Filing an Enforcement Motion: The parent seeking enforcement must file a motion with the court outlining the specific violations and providing evidence of the non-compliance.

  • Court Hearing: The court will schedule a hearing to address the alleged violations and determine appropriate remedies. The court has various enforcement options, including modifying the custody order, imposing fines or sanctions, ordering makeup parenting time, or even holding the violating parent in contempt of court.

  • Court Order Compliance: Once the court issues an enforcement order, it is legally binding, and both parents are obligated to comply. Failure to comply with the court's order may result in further legal consequences for the non-compliant parent.

Working Toward a Resolution for Your Custody Matter!

At Herbert & Weiss, LLP, our child custody lawyers in Englewood, NJ are dedicated to providing you with exceptional legal representation. We understand the emotional and challenging nature of child custody disputes, and we are committed to guiding you every step of the way. With our team by your side, you can expect realistic expectations, strategic planning, and a collaborative approach. We are not afraid to enter the courtroom and fight for your rights, leveraging our expertise to command the courtroom effectively. Our goal is to deliver results that align with your objectives, whether through negotiation, settlement, or litigation. We pride ourselves on keeping you fully informed throughout the process, no matter how complex your case may be. You can count on us for unwavering support as we work together towards a resolution.

Call our Englewood child custody attorneys at (201) 500-2151for a consultation about your needs.

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