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CHILDREN

CHILD CUSTODY

Our attorneys fully understand the laws that govern custody issues and are adept at finding effective solutions to even the most contentious disputes. We are dedicated to protecting the interests and well-being of children and routinely handle custody cases involving:

 

In New Jersey, there are two different types of custody:

 

  • Legal custody - Determining the parents’ rights to make important decisions regarding their child’s education, health care, religion, and general upbringing.

  • Residential or physical custody - Determining where the child will primarily live and how much time a child spends in each parent’s home.

 

There is a presumption in New Jersey that parties will have joint legal custody, thereby sharing in major decisions, such as those involving medical, educational, or religious matters. The extent of parental involvement may vary, however, and in unusual circumstances, sole legal custody may be warranted. Each case will differ and there are a variety of factors to examine before making that final decision. This must be done carefully, as the goal is to ensure a child resides consistently in a healthy, secure, and stable environment until reaching emancipation.

 

Some of the most common factors to determine custody include:

  • The child’s age

  • The child’s relationship to each parent

  • Who has historically cared for the child

  • Each parent’s ability to provide for the child in the future

  • Any special needs the child might have

  • If a parent has had any problems with drugs, alcohol, sexual abuse, or domestic violence

  • The need to continue providing stability in the child’s life

  • How well the child is currently thriving in his or her home environment

  • If the child is old enough, his or her personal preferences

 

What must also be considered is how the parents communicate with one another on critical decisions for raising the child. This is especially important if parents are seeking joint custody. In cases where there is a history of domestic violence or drug or alcohol abuse in the home, as examples, this can negatively impact that parent’s ability to gain custody. In such a case, parenting time can be greatly limited or may even need to be supervised for the protection of the child.

CHILD PROTECTION AND PERMANENCY

The Division of Child Protection and Permanency is New Jersey’s child welfare agency created to protect children and support families. DCP&P investigates allegations of child abuse and neglect and, if necessary, arranges for the child’s protection and any necessary treatment.

When facing allegations of neglect or abuse, or when under investigation by DCP&P, families should retain competent legal counsel as soon as possible. Lepp, Mayrides, & Eaton, LLC, seeks to protect families and keep them together when appropriate. Though DCP&P is an important state agency that plays a vital role in protecting children, it can also overstep the scope of its authority and leave families feeling the unintended consequences of investigations and actions for years to come.

An investigation or finding of neglect/abuse can impact custody arrangements, parenting time and have wide-ranging implications, including future employment. Depending on the circumstances, DCP&P may request the family court to prohibit contact between a parent and the child. Custody may be shifted from one parent to the other. There are several possible outcomes, all of which should be discussed with your attorney.

ADOPTION

The decision to adopt a child is a life-changing event, and one that is not entered into lightly by the birth or adoptive parents. Parents wishing to adopt are filled with much enthusiasm and expectation, while birth parents making the decision to give their child up for adoption often do so with great sensitivity and sentiment.

 

Once the decisions are made, it is vital for both sets of parents to consult with an experienced and reputable adoption lawyer that can ensure the rights of each family, and the child, are protected. The attorneys at Lepp, Mayrides, & Eaton, LLC, are well versed in New Jersey adoption laws, and will parlay their experience to ensure that your adoption process is a happy occasion.