Category Archives: Third Parties
If a previous custody resolution process like an assessment or mediation yields no solution, the court may order a full child custody evaluation at the parents’ expense. Parents may agree to a single evaluator or each retain their own separately, and the court may also order a neutral evaluator.
There is very little authority on the topic of step parent visitation in New Jersey. One reported case on the topic is Kipstein v Zalewski, 230 NJ Super 567 (Ch. Div. 1988). In that case, the Court found that there is no automatic right to step parent visitation in New Jersey but at the same time, it is not completely barred. This is a good example of a bad set of facts making bad law. In this case, the step-parent moved for visitation with the child even though he had only been married to the natural mother for one year. In addition, the child apparently did not want visitation with him either. Thus, one has to question why he moved for visitation in the first place.
It is assumed that anyone hiring an attorney to enforce step parent visitation rights will have a much better case and that the child will at least want to take part in the visitation. The petitioner should set forth the exact reasons why visitation is needed and what parental activities the petitioner engaged in, for how long, etc. Detail is important and other witnesses would also be important.
If you are seeking step parent visitation in New Jersey or you are defending against a motion for visitation, call the team of aggressive New Jersey visitation lawyers today and allow us to fight for you!
Its rare that siblings seeks visitation. I think it is more common that a sibling will seek custody instead. However, N.J.S.A. 9:2-7.1 grants siblings visitation only in the event of a disruption to the family unit by death, separation or divorce. This is the same statute that set forth grand parents rights to visitation which was later modified by the Moriarty case. However, unlike grand parents rights which has been extensively litigated, there are no reported cases on sibling visitation. While there is an argument that the same burden that applies to grand parents also applies to siblings, I would argue otherwise. This firm has been involved in several cases where this has been an issue although we were not directly representing the siblings and the courts have liberally granted visitation.
Grand Parent rights in New Jersey are limited. The New Jersey Supreme Court set forth the standards that grand parents must show in order to get visitation in the case of Moriarty v. Bradt, 177 N.J. 84 (2003). The Court held that first, the grand parent must establish be a preponderance of the evidence that visitation is necessary to avoid harm to the child. This is a very difficult burden to overcome but it is not impossible. If the grand parent does meet this burden, then the parent must offer a visitation schedule.
In Mizrahi v. Cannon, 375 NJ Super 221 (App. Div. 2005), the Appellate Division held that grand parents must establish that denying visitation would wreak a particular identifiable harm, specific to the child, to justify interference with the with a parent’s rights to due process. Generic or generalized allegations of harm are not sufficient.
If you are facing a grandparent’s rights issue in your case, call us to speak to one of our New Jersey grandparent visitation lawyers today to see how we can help you. We could put together a grandparent visitation motion that is hard hitting and aggressive so that you can have a better chance at victory.
Same sex partners face a daunting decision when they choose to have a natural child instead of adopting. Clearly, both cannot have the child together. One has to be the biological parent and the other will not be. Of course, the other party can adopt the child which thus helps to solidify that parent’s rights. However, not every couple has that kind of foresight. Some couples may skip that procedural or just put if off thinking that it is not necessary because they won’t be breaking up. Of course, no one goes into a relationship thinking it will break up but most of them do. Thus, if the parties cannot agree as to what happens with the child when they break up, a lengthy court battle will ensue.
Luckily, the non-biological parent in a same sex partnership does have an ability to gain legal rights to the child. That party can file a complaint with the court to be recognized as a psychological parent. The complexity of the case will often turn on the age of the child. Clearly, an older child will view both parties as the parent. However, a very young child may not have that ability at all. A toddler may present a very difficult call. Either way, the best way to handle this is to hire a lawyer as soon as possible to discuss all of your options.
Please note that a same sex partner can also advance the argument that since they consented to the artificial insemination of their partner, they are presumed to be the natural parent. See In re Parentage of Robinson, 383 N.J. Super 165 (Ch. Div. 2005).
In V.C. v. M.J.B., 163 N.J. 200 (2000), the New Jersey Supreme Court found that the same sex partner of the defendant was a psychological parent of the child at issue, thus granting the mother visitation. Although the issue of who is a psychological parent has come into play with same sex partners, the issue has traditionally come up in two other situations. The first is where the purported father of the child later finds out that he’s not actually the real father. However, so much time has passed that the court will hold that this person is the father as a psychological parent. Likewise, this issue will also come up where third parties, usually grand parents, have watched the child for a long period of time. Thus, even though it is obvious that these people are not the natural parents, the fact that they raised the child for a significant period of time may elevate them beyond mere grand parents.
The test used to determine if someone meets the test to be considered a psychological parent are:
1. that the biological parent or adoptive parent consented to and fostered the petitioner’s formation and establishment of a parent-like relationship with the child.
2. that the petitioner and the child lived together in the same house
3. that the petitioner assumed the obligations of parenthood by taking significant responsibility for the child’s care, education and development, including contribution towards the child’s support, without expectation of financial compensation
4. that the petitioner has been in a parental role for a length of time sufficient to have established with the child a bonded, dependent relationship that is parental in nature.
If you are seeking parental rights as a psychological parent in any court in New Jersey, call our team of tough, smart lawyers today to discuss how we can help you.