By finally coming to a custody agreement, you’ve walked a delicate tightrope to balance the schedules and needs of everyone in your family. Perhaps you needed a court to intervene in your contentious relationship and settle everything. However, when circumstances change and something isn’t working, you might find yourself needing to change your parenting time arrangements. Read the rest of this entry
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.
In this case, our client (the father) had a vindictive ex call DYFS (now DCPP) on him and make false allegations of child abuse and neglect. Unfortunately, the client did not call us when dealing with the DYFS investigation. Like many people, he felt that he didn’t need a lawyer because he didn’t do anything wrong. He wasn’t using drugs so why not take a drug test? After passing several tests, he failed one. He swore that he didn’t use any drugs so we made sure that he took a hair follicle test. We then worked with DYFS to close out their investigation once we were able to show them that this was a false positive. We also made sure that DYFS sent over a report to the court. The timing of everything was very close but the court received everything the day before the motion date. As a result, the mother’s motion to suspend parenting time was denied and our client’s visitation rights were restored just in time for the holidays.
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 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.