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.
Courts distinguish marital faults from misconduct that indicates an unfit parent. In other words, proof of a horrible spouse does not automatically deem that spouse an unfit parent, and seeking custody doesn’t have to eliminate parenting time. Although no one is legally required to parent perfectly, the court can decide that the dangerously imperfect are unfit.
Unmarried parents routinely have the same custody, support, and visitation problems that married ones have. Establishing paternity is vital in nondissolution custody cases, when unmarried partners separate. New Jersey family courts make no assumption about a father’s identity when an unmarried woman gives birth.
This was very difficult because our client went to court without a lawyer and got a final restraining order against him. Adding insult to injury was that he filed a number of frivolous motions which not only upset the judge but it made him look crazy. This in turn led to an award of counsel fees to the other side. Speaking of the other side, they had one of the top local law firms on their side. Thus, the cards were stacked against us. Although it took about 6 months, we chipped away at the case little by little, steadily making progress. My client went from having almost no visitation to supervised visitation to unsupervised visitation on a regular schedule. This despite the incredible resistance that the other side constantly put up including weekly allegations against our client.
This case was a different type of fight. Instead of fighting over custody, we were fighting over jurisdiction. The client knew that the state that established jurisdiction would forever impact his parental rights and obligations. The mother fought to keep the case in New Jersey and we fought to keep it in Pennsylvania. Even though the mother represented herself at the first court appearance, it still wasn’t a cake walk. We had to fight hard to get what we wanted and we did. Within two weeks, the mother hired a powerful law firm to file a motion to reconsider. We had to battle even harder and we did. The Court once again sided with us and the jurisdiction was kept in Pennsylvania.
Our client was the father of the child in this case. In addition to a divorce case, there was also a pending DYFS case. The client fired his lawyer and then hired us. Within just a few months we resolved the DYFS case in his favor. Through the DYFS case, we were then able to get him custody of the child. With custody out of the way, we quickly resolved the divorce case as well. Needless to say, the client was very happy that he came over to us.
This was another tough divorce case because the parties hated each other even more so than the average case. Before we were involved in the case there were a number of domestic violence issues, restraining orders and criminal charges. Half way through the case, the father went pro se and thus, had no more legal fees to pay which put our client at a significant disadvantage. The case was headed to trial but within a few weeks of the scheduled trial date, we worked out a settlement where the client got custody of the children, child support and alimony.