The CNN Original Series, "This is Life" recently interviewed fathers embroiled in nightmare child-custody issues. One had spent time in jail for non-payment of child support and was $680,000 in arrears (he is a jobless pediatrician who claimed to be making $100 month). In another case, a father was banned from seeing his child because of a civil protection order.
Historically, courts have favored the mother when it comes to primary custody, but that has slowly changed over the past two decades. Fathers’ rights remain a big issue. However, sound legal help at the outset can prevent years of heartache.
Still, CNN reports mothers account for 80 percent of custodial parents in the U.S. These numbers tell us that it may take time for the increasingly progressive approach of courts to match the child-custody environment, which seeks shared parenting whenever it’s in the best interest of the child.
NJ Child Custody and Child support
Freehold child support lawyers understand child custody and support issues are often the most contentious part of any divorce. Obtaining a fair and reasonable child custody and child support agreement at the outset is the best thing divorcing parents can do for everyone involved – especially the children.
New Jersey Statutes: Title 9, Section 2-1, outlines child custody.
There are two main types of custody in New Jersey:
- Physical Custody: where the child will spend their time; and
- Legal Custody: which parent(s) is/are responsible for decision-making on behalf of the child.
The court may award joint custody, sole custody or any other custody arrangement found to be in the best interests of the child. Courts strongly encourage parents to work out a custody arrangement and visitation schedule via a mandatory parenting plan, which is subject to court approval.
Custody cases that cannot be resolved will go to mediation and then, if necessary, to a custody trial.
Common Child Custody and Support Issues in NJ
Both support and parenting plans are subject to future modification. However, it’s always best to negotiate a livable arrangement from the start. Common issues that arise include:
Non-Payment of child support: Not paying child support is not an option. If payment is not possible because of job loss or other circumstances, make a good-faith effort. Seek legal help and go through the proper legal channels. Not paying child support can have a host of consequences, including loss of driver’s license and possible jail time.
Restraining orders. As the CNN case illustrates, restraining orders can have a significant impact on divorce and child-custody cases. In New Jersey, the Code of Criminal Justice, Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1982, established two types of restraining orders for domestic violence victims.
A temporary restraining order (TRO), may be granted by a judge after a police report or after seeking one from the Family Court. Defendant will receive notice of a hearing, but in the interim will be barred from contact and prevented from approaching a victim’s residence. This can require a defendant to move out of a marital home, and/or prevent a defendant from seeing children. Upon a hearing (typically within 10 days) a Final Restraining Order (FRO) may be issued. Courts and law enforcement take these orders seriously. A TRO can be filed at any time – during marriage, separation or long after divorce.
Seeking the advice and counsel of a Monmouth child custody lawyer can often help prevent emotions from boiling over in these cases. Both victims and defendants should seek legal help right away, as the consequences of resulting court actions can be long lasting.
Call Rozin|Golinder Law, LLC today for a free and confidential consultation.