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Child Custody and Parenting Time

 

New Jersey Child Custody Lawyers

child custody

How and in what ways parties will parent their children is an area that really does not fit within the legal system.

Although the courts try to make custody and parenting decisions based on the “best interests of the child,” common sense dictates that Courts should not be making these decisions when they don’t know either the children or the parents.

Judges will be the first ones to tell you that they don’t want to make custody and parenting decisions for divorcing or already divorced parents unless an agreement absolutely cannot be reached any other way.

When parents are seeking a decision from the Court regarding custody and parenting time, the parties are often required to obtain evaluation reports by Court-appointed experts to assist the Court in making its decision.

The Court system itself provides opportunities to avoid a decision by the Court, including mediation and parent education seminars, and Courts make referrals to therapists for reunification therapy, family therapy, and individual therapy whenever possible.

Among the many custody and parenting time decisions which have to be addressed and resolved during or after a divorce, the most common are:

  • Parent of Primary Residence and Parent of Alternate Residence designations: It is not always necessary to designate parents as “PPR” or “PAR” and the courts are trying to either get away from or limit, these designations. However, they are necessary in some cases
  • Decision making relating to issues such as medical care, educational decisions, the decision relating to religious upbringing, and the like. With the Corona-virus Pandemic, these issues have greatly intensified. The New Jersey Court system has a long backlog of these cases since the start of the pandemic. The medical, educational, socializing and other decisions which need to be made about children as a result of the pandemic are extremely serious and are often difficult to resolve without assistance
  • Development of parenting time plans
  • Parent relocation issues (these are called “removal cases” and relate to situations when a parent wants to permanently move from New Jersey to another state with the children)

In the case of divorcing or already-divorced parents, custody, parenting time and relocation issues should be handled with the help of an experienced attorney so that the parties can, hopefully, come up with solutions that avoid resorting to a court.

Experienced attorneys such as Amy and Melissa can be of great help to their clients in avoiding litigation of custody and parenting time issues. However, when it has been unavoidable, they have litigated many custody cases. Both attorneys have their own children (and, in Amy’s case, stepchildren and step-grandchildren) and they both have a particular interest in children and child advocacy. As but one example, they are both actively involved with the Camden County Boys and Girls Club of which Amy is Secretary-Treasurer.

Parent Relocation

The term “Parent Relocation” refers to cases in which a parent wants to move out of the State of New Jersey with the minor children, leaving the other parent behind in New Jersey.

Unless the parties’ Final Judgment of Divorce or Marital Settlement Agreement says otherwise, if no agreement can be reached between the parties, then the parent seeking to move out of New Jersey with the children must make an application to the Court for permission to move. These cases may arise when a parent finds a new “significant other” who lives in another state, wants to take a new job out of state, or has another reason for wishing to move out of the state with the children.

New Jersey law regarding parent relocation has changed a great deal over the years, coming up with new “tests” for the Courts to apply for relocation cases each time.

The last such change took place in August 2017 in a New Jersey Supreme Court case called Bisbing v. Bisbing. Unlike prior cases and tests, the Bisbing case states that the Courts must decide whether or not the relocating parents can move with the children based only on the best interests of the children. To determine the best interests of the children, the Courts were directed to look at the same factors at which they would look if they were deciding custody, which are:

  • The parents’ ability to agree, communicate, and cooperate in matters relating to the child
  • The parents’ willingness to accept custody and any history of unwillingness to allow parenting time not based on substantiated abuse
  • The interaction and relationship of the child with his or her parents and siblings
  • Any history of domestic violence
  • The safety of the child and the safety of either parent from physical abuse by the other parent
  • The preference of the child, if of age, and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent decision
  • The needs of the child
  • The stability of the home environment offered
  • The quality and continuity of the child’s education
  • The fitness of the parents
  • The geographical proximity of the parents’ homes
  • The extent and quality of the time spent with the child prior to or subsequent to the separation
  • The parents’ employment responsibilities
  • The age and number of children

This list of factors is not exhaustive, but the litmus test is always the best interest of the children.

Marlton Child Custody Lawyers at Goldstein & Mignogna, P.A. Can Stand by You When You Are Facing Trying Family Law Matters

Whether you are going through a divorce or crafting a custody agreement, our Marlton child custody lawyers at Goldstein & Mignogna, P.A. are ready to give you the support you need. Call us at 856-890-9400 or contact us online to schedule an initial, private consultation today. Located in Marlton, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Burlington County, Camden County, and Gloucester County.