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.
Our Toms River Child Custody Lawyers helped a client regain her parental rights today in Ocean County Superior Court. The client was facing a tough DYFS case at the same time her divorce case was going on. As a result of her cases being mismanaged by a prior attorney, her case was a total mess. In fact, these cases appeared hopeless from the surface. However, when our lawyers see a tough case, we get tougher.worked non-stop to fight against the non-stop allegations from her husband, the law guardian and DYFS. The judge was a second away from putting the client in in-patient but we prevented it from happening.continued to fight hard and at the next court appearance, we got the DYFS case dismissed and as a result, the client’s visitation was no longer supervised.
A contempt proceeding should be brought under R. 1:10-2 against the other parent for interfering with parenting time. Under R. 1:10-3, monetary sanctions are available. Often times, lawyers will file a motion to enforce litigant’s rights and simply ask the Court to verbally scold the other parent. I view these case as dealing with any other bully. The best way to get a bully to back down is to stand up for yourself and punch them in the mouth. Clearly, assaulting the other parent is not advisable but standing up for yourself in court and using the court to deliver a serious blow to them will often get them to back down.
Now I’ve heard every excuse in the book as to why the other side will not listen to any court order. In fact, I find it odd that people would call a lawyer only to tell the lawyer that the other side cannot be defeated. Why call the lawyer in the first place? Quite often, the prospective client has handled the case on their own or did not have an aggressive lawyer in the past. I cannot think of any case that our firm has handled where we could not help our client get parenting time unless the parent was involved with DYFS. Even with serious DYFS allegations, we can almost always get the client some visitation.
Thus, if you want to enforce your parenting time and teach the other side that you will not back down, speak to one of our tough, smart lawyers about filing a motion to hold the other parent in contempt.
Client wanted to terminate the father’s legal custody because he was in prison and he was using his rights to harass her. We filed a motion and the other side fought us hard even though he was in prison. However, we came up with a long list of arguments for our client and in the end, the court sided with us. As a result, the father cannot sit in prison and harass our client any longer.
This case showed that it pays to keep fighting but it also pays to do things the right way first. We represented the mother of a 5 year old who was never married to the father. Since there was no divorce, there was no reason to force the parties in court. However, it would have been smart to reduce the custody and support agreement into a court order. Because they didn’t, all hell broke loose when another family member put the child in danger. The father refused to return the child for parenting time. Without a formal court order, there was nothing for the police to do so both parties filed an order to show cause in family court. Both sides showed up with lawyers and the other side fought hard. The presiding judge met with us in chambers and informed us that the child would be given to the father. Our client was devastated. The judge wanted us to just accept it and go home. We informed the judge that we didn’t get hired to sell the client out so we had to keep fighting. A few minutes later we went back into court and Jef Henninger put everything he had into the case. Amazingly, the judge completely changed her mind and awarded custody to our client! The other side was shocked as they were just gloating as to how they beat us.
This case was the battle that would never end but it also proved that this firm never backs down. We were the fifth law firm on the case. Most lawyers will never be the second lawyer on a case, let alone the third, fourth or fifth. While we are skeptical about being the fifth law firm on a case, we never take such hard positions and we are thankful we didn’t do that here. This client wound up being one of our best clients ever. This case went on for five years and we really got to know the client, the child and her family. It was a blessing to be involved in their lives.
In addition to being the fifth law firm in the case, this case was tough because the other side had one of the best law firms in the state. They were relentless in their pursuit for their client but we back down to no one. No one scares us. The case involved a father that had a number of mental health problems that posed a danger to a special needs child with very severe health problems. Despite all of his challenges and setbacks, the child was a sweetheart and we fought hard for him and our client. The Court was against us from the start. It didn’t help that the client made a number of outbursts prior to our involvement with the case.
After about a year into the case, we filed a motion so big it weighed several pounds. In the end, it was denied but we filed an appeal. The Appellate Division heard oral argument and we battled back the panel of judges that questioned us on the case. The other side was very confident that we would lose. Of course, we won. We then set the case up for a trial. We had some of the top experts in the state on our side and we continued the fight in advance of trial. These cases sometimes come down to a war of attrition and in this case, the other side caved in and we worked out a settlement some six years since the case began and five years since our involvement in the case. This was easily one of our favorite victories of all time both because of the hell we all went through and the sweet child that grew up in front of our eyes during the battle.