Category: Child Custody

Does Mental Health Affect Custody?

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Does Mental Health Affect Custody?

Issues related to a parent’s mental health may be considered by the Court when making a decision as to custody and parenting time. However, it should be noted that the New Jersey statute governing custody does not specifically reference mental health; it is the parent’s overall fitness to have custody of a child that the court must consider.

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Technology Allows us to Continue

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Technology Allows us to Continue

The New Jersey courts have remained committed to continuing operations during this public health emergency. With the help of technology, New Jersey is implementing more resources to assist you with your Family Court matters. The New Jersey Judiciary wants everyone to have access to justice while resolving your matter as quickly as possible.

Through that commitment, the New Jersey Judiciary has expanded their electronic filing system. Family Court has implemented the Judiciary Electronic Document Submission (“JEDS”) system. This system allows the court to continue to move your case forward electronically. JEDS was previously in development before the pandemic, however, due to State COVID-19 guidelines, the New Jersey Judiciary found it necessary to make the system available sooner.[1]

JEDS allows people dealing with family legal issues continued access to the courts. Whether the issue revolves around divorce, post-judgment motions, child custody/parenting time, and/or child support applications and modifications, the New Jersey Courts will continue to accept emergent and non-emergent submissions, electronically, through JEDS. However, if you do not have access to a computer, you can mail your paperwork to the Superior Court in your county. Finally, JEDS does not accept court filings in the following areas: child abuse/neglect, child placement review, termination of parental rights and kinship/legal guardianship. If you need to file paperwork in these areas, it would be best to contact the court to determine how they would like to receive paperwork.

We at the Law Offices of Lyons & Associates, P.C. remain committed to helping you during these unprecedented times. We have adapted to the changing landscape to assist you with your personal matters. If you or someone you know has any questions and needs assistance with family law matters, please contact us by e-mail, visit our website, or call our office at (908) 575-9777. With offices in Somerville and Morristown, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout Somerset, Woodbridge, Morristown, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, and Morris Plains.

Posted by Lyons & Associates, P.C.

Did Johnny Depp Violate the Law when he Recorded a Telephone Call with Amber Heard without her Prior Knowledge or Consent?

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How Divorce Impacts the Marital Home

Written by: Mark Gabriel, Esq.

Most people are aware of the ongoing legal battle between Johnny Depp and his estranged wife Amber Heard. The public is also privy to certain recordings, readily available for public consumption online, recorded by Johnny during telephone calls with Heard. However, the first question that many may ask is whether it is legal to record telephone conversations when the person on the other end is not aware that the call is being recorded. Another issue that arises is whether the recordings are admissible evidence in the couple’s various legal battles.

In New Jersey and the majority of states, it is legal to record a telephone call with another person so long as you are a party to the call. New Jersey and other such states are therefore called “One Party Consent States.” Other states, like California, are “All Party Consent States” because they require that all parties to the call consent to the call being recorded. I am unsure of where Johnny was when he recorded his telephone call with Amber Heard but a tricky issue could arise if Johnny was physically present in a One Party Consent State and Amber was physically present in an All Party Consent State. If Johnny was in New Jersey and Heard was in California when the call was recorded, based on California law, Johnny could be criminally charged by the State of California even if he was in New Jersey at the time of the call.

It is important to be aware of the wiretapping laws in the state where your divorce is taking place. If you plan on recording a telephone call for use in a family law matter, you may want to check with your attorney before moving forward. Generally speaking, if a litigant violated the wiretapping law when recording a telephone call, the Court in a civil proceeding would likely deem that such a recording is not admissible as evidence. However, if done properly, recordings can be very useful in family law matters.

If you or someone you know has questions about recording and wiretap laws, please contact my office at 908-575-9777 or contact us online. At Lyons & Associates, P.C., we pay personal attention to personal matters and specialize in all facets of family law and are uniquely suited to handling such matters.

Family Court During COVID-19

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Conflicts between separated parents during the COVID-19 pandemic

The family courts in New Jersey have closed their facilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and most parents with child custody agreements are not sure how to proceed. While employees and agents of the court are working from home, every issue before the court will progress slowly. Any divorce that was filed before the COVID-19 pandemic may be delayed for quite some time, and you need to understand how to carry on under these unique circumstances.

The New Jersey court system is closed until further notice, and most municipal court buildings are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that any litigation has effectively stopped until the courts can reopen. At the same time, parents may not know how to handle child support or child custody. Divorcing parents may not understand how they should proceed, and the following tips will help you behave appropriately during the lockdown.

How Should Parents Address the Current Lockdown?

  • Child custody agreements remain active during the lockdown. If parents can reasonably reach their children, the custody arrangement should not be altered in any way.
  • If a parent has been exposed to COVID-19, the parents should agree to a self-quarantine period.
  • Child support payments should be made through the local court’s website.
  • Child support payments will be mailed out as normal.

Child custody agreements can be filed with the court, and you may begin to share custody with your spouse even during COVID-19. While you should abide by any curfews that have been set, you should try to make the transition as seamless as possible for your children.

Keep in mind that the court will know if you did not make child support payments. If you have not abided by your child custody agreement to a reasonable degree, the court will hear all complaints from your ex-spouse’s attorney. You can still make some progress on your divorce even if the courts are closed, and you should assume that the court will take action if you are egregiously violating an existing divorce decree.

What if the Matter is Urgent?

Parents who wish to address an urgent matter with the court should ask one of our lawyers to request an emergency hearing. In many cases, these hearings can be held virtually with the judge. This situation presents many challenges, but the court will err on the side of safety and justice for families in New Jersey.

Woodbridge Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Help Clients During the COVID-19 Pandemic

If you have concerns pertaining to your divorce, contact the Woodbridge divorce lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. We offer immediate support during the COVID-19 pandemic. Call us today at 908-575-9777 or contact us online for a free consultation. With offices in Somerville and Morristown, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout Somerset, Woodbridge, Morristown, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, and Morris Plains.

Managing Shared Custody in a Quarantined World | Opinion

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Managing Shared Custody in a Quarantined World | Opinion

https://www.nj.com/opinion/2020/04/managing-shared-custody-in-a-quarantined-world-opinion.html

The COVID-19 pandemic has created many challenges within divorced and separated families. For parents who live in different homes, the issue of whether children should be going back and forth between parents is a very challenging decision. Family law is complicated, and these choices are not easy to make. There are many factors involved in child custody decisions and the current pandemic does not make things any easier. Written by Theresa Lyons of Lyons & Associates, P.C., this article discusses how to manage shared custody during uncertain times and factors to consider during the ongoing quarantine. Our attorneys realize the difficulties involved in child custody cases and are here to help with any problems that arise. Contact a dedicated child custody lawyer today by calling 908-575-9777 or contact us online for a free consultation.

How Will the Coronavirus Affect My Divorce?

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How Will the Coronavirus Affect My Divorce?

Divorce can be a stressful process, and for couples currently engaged in divorce proceedings, things may be getting even more stressful. The Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic is wreaking havoc on the stock market. As the worldwide crisis continues to plague countries around the globe, the Dow Jones and S&P 500 fluctuations are causing many people panic as they watch their 401k plans and stock investments plunge.

For couples negotiating the distribution of assets in their divorce settlements, the value of their assets may have been significantly affected by the impact of the Coronavirus on the global market. Re-evaluation of these assets may be necessary before a final settlement can be determined.

Equitable Distribution of Assets During the Current Pandemic

For couples that are currently negotiating the equitable distribution of their marital assets, the impact of the coronavirus may force delays. No one knows what the final impact will be on assets, such as 401k funds, stock investments, and retirement plans. How can couples proceed with equitable distribution with so many unknown factors right now?

The most logical advice for most divorcing couples would be to wait out the current crisis and see just how far the impact will spread. For those in an amicable divorce, this may be the best solution, but for those in divorce proceedings already filled with angst and volatility, a delay in divorce proceedings may seem insurmountable.

Divorce lawyers around the globe may be moving through unchartered territory with the current pandemic, but not with working in an unstable market. There were divorce proceedings and equitable distribution concerns during the market crash in 2008 with many lessons learned during that unstable economy. Divorce attorneys with experience from that financial crisis are lending their knowledge to those new to the game.

Listening to the advice of an experienced and knowledgeable divorce lawyer is in the best interest of all couples currently going through divorce

proceedings. What most investors would tell anyone at this time is that panic will not change the outcome of any situation. At a time like the present, the best strategy is to work collaboratively and patiently with all involved in the divorce proceedings.

Unprecedented Concerns in Divorce Proceedings

Financial concerns are not the only issue divorcing couples are facing. Unprecedented concerns are rising quickly, forcing panicked spouses and parents to seek answers to tricky questions. The most common concerns surfacing among divorcing couples include:

  • Quarantines and how they may affect court dates and appearances
  • Court shutdowns forcing delays of divorce proceedings
  • Quarantine of parents that share joint custody
  • Adjustments to child support payments considering reduced income/work schedules
  • Co-parenting issues with school closures
  • Differences between parents on how to protect their children from exposure

As divorcing couples and divorce lawyers try to continue with business as usual, delays are to be expected. With patience and perseverance, divorcing couples can ensure the best possible outcome in their divorce settlement.

Morristown Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Offer Counsel and Support for Divorcing Couples During the Coronavirus Pandemic

If you are experiencing concerns about your divorce proceedings in the current Coronavirus pandemic, contact the Morristown divorce lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Call us at 908-575-9777 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today. Located in Somerville and Morristown, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout Somerset, Woodbridge, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, and Morris Plains.

Can My Work Schedule Affect Child Custody Arrangements?

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Can My Work Schedule Affect Child Custody Arrangements?

Child custody is a top priority for divorcing parents. Deciding how much time each parent will spend with their children can be hard, and work schedules play an important role. If both parents work traditional work shifts, there is less free time to share, but less common working hours can complicate things even further.

When courts rule for joint custody arrangements, parents may have to outline how much time they each spend with the children. It is usually preferred for the children to spend most of their time under a parent’s care instead of a caregiver. It is also important to maintain open communication once these plans are set in place.

Non-Traditional Work Schedules

Those who work in the medical field, police officers, firefighters, retail employees, and many other occupations often find themselves working night shifts, during the weekend, and other irregular hours. In some cases, courts will make the parent with set hours the custodial parents. This does not mean that the non-custodial parent with irregular hours will have restricted parenting time. Work schedules, distance between the parents’ homes, and the children’s ages are all taken into consideration.

Parenting Time Guidelines

To design a parenting schedule that best benefits the children, parents must be ready to work together. When parents know their work hours ahead of time, they can create a parenting schedule to reflect it. When there is no advance notice, it is important to be flexible. Sometimes, parents must create several custody schedules, and these can change when work schedules fluctuate. Keeping track of how many hours or days can be useful in these situations. If one parent must work on a holiday, this time can be made up later.

Allowing the children to stay overnight with the non-custodial parent on a weeknight can work, as long as the children get to school and extra-curricular events on time. The options of having the children stay with one parent for several days can also suffice if the parents do not live close to one another.

Flexibility and Consistency

Erratic work schedules can make it hard to keep consistent parenting schedules, and this is where flexibility comes in. Keeping in mind that the children’s best interests come first, divorced parents can try to negotiate parenting schedules that make everyone happy. If this goal cannot be achieved and problems arise, the best course of action may be to contact a well-versed child custody lawyer.

Woodbridge Child Custody Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Help Clients Create Effective Parenting Plans

Your children should not have to suffer if you and your ex-spouse cannot agree on a reasonable parenting time schedule. For a free case evaluation, contact the experienced Woodbridge child custody lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Complete our online form or call us at 908-575-9777 for a free consultation today. Located in Somerville and Morristown, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout Somerset, Woodbridge, Morristown, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, and Morris Plains.
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Can My Criminal Record Affect Child Custody?

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In child custody cases in New Jersey, the court considers the best interests of the child in conjunction with the factors listed under N.J.S.A. 9:2-4. Under this statute there are several factors that relate to a criminal conviction:

  • the safety of the child and the safety of either parent from physical abuse by the other parent
  • the stability of the home environment offered
  • the fitness of the parents
  • any other factors the court deems relevant

Judges deciding on a parenting time schedule for the child will take into consideration either parent’s criminal past. Sometimes, when a judge is reviewing past criminal convictions he or she will consider if the crime was long ago or if it is a one-time offense for something minimal or unrelated to typical parental responsibilities. For example, a conviction for shoplifting when you were a teenager may have little bearing on a judge’s opinion on your fitness as a parent. On the other hand, if there is evidence of a previous shoplifting conviction along with testimony that states you have been telling your child it is ok to shoplift, the judge may have a different opinion.

A judge may also consider:

  • What crime was committed?
  • Against whom was the crime committed?
  • How long ago was the crime committed?
  • Are there troubling patterns or multiple offenses?

Depending on the answers to these questions, your criminal record could have an impact on the custody decision.

Convictions that Affect Custody

Any violent incident on your criminal record is likely to raise a red flag with the judge about possible violent tendencies or anger issues. A conviction for a violent incident against a child would be that much more problematic. Drug charges are often considered, but they are more likely to hold more weight if the conviction brought a jail sentence that caused you to be away from your child, which affected the stability of their home life. Likewise, repeated stints in rehab or other treatment for drug or alcohol abuse could disrupt a child’s sense of stability. Allegations of drug or alcohol abuse could cause a judge to order a parent seeking child custody to submit to drug testing to gain or retain custody.

Custody Arrangements

When assessing the custody arrangement for a child, a judge may consider sole physical custody versus joint physical custody. If the parent is seen as a risk to the child, visitation is likely to be restricted or supervised. Bottom line: The Judge will implement the parenting schedule that is in the best interests of the child.

Somerville Child Custody Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Advise Clients With Criminal Histories

If you are concerned that a criminal record could affect your case for child custody, you may benefit from the valuable legal advice of a Somerville child custody lawyer at Lyons & Associates, P.C. For a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 908-575-9777 to set up a free case evaluation. From our offices in Somerville and Morristown, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout Somerset, Woodbridge, Morristown, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, and Morris Plains.

Interstate Custody

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Interstate Child Custody

Woodbridge child custody lawyers at Lyons & Associates, help clients with interstate custody agreements.In movies and television shows, divorced parents may live in the same town or sometimes just down the street. While this sometimes happens, many parents live much farther away from each other. In fact, sometimes parents live in different states. However, they can still share custody of their children.

How Does Interstate Custody Work?

Usually, the state that issues the parenting time schedule retains jurisdiction. However, under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, jurisdiction can be changed depending upon where the child is living and how long he or she has been living there.

Under the UCCJEA, an initial custody determination is made in the child’s home state which is defined as where the child has lived for the last six months. In most instances, the courts in other states will defer to the child’s home state when making a custody determination, although there are some situations where the courts will take jurisdiction even if it is not the child’s home state.

  1. Inconvenient forum. If the home state court determines that another state would be more convenient, then it must decline jurisdiction and allow the other state to take on the case. The court may look at the child’s ties to the state and its ties to the home state which includes such factors as blood relatives, therapists, schooling and protection orders.
  2. Emergency jurisdiction. A court may exercise jurisdiction if the child has been removed from another state because of danger. For instance, a child who is moved to New Jersey because of abuse in a different state may claim New Jersey as the state of residence. Therefore, the state could take jurisdiction when determining custody. However, an order from the court exercising emergency jurisdiction may be temporary as the court is looking to protect the person petitioning the court.
  3. Unjustifiable conduct. The court may assert jurisdiction when one party has engaged in unjustifiable conduct. For example, (a) if a child was removed from a state without telling the other parent and (b) if a parent withholds information about the child’s location. If the state that was petitioned for a custody determination learns of the unjustifiable conduct, the court may penalize the wrongdoer and order a temporary parenting time schedule while at the same time ordering that the child be returned to the home state and a permanent resolution be determined in the home state court.
  4. No other state can claim jurisdiction. Under this situation, if no other state can claim to be the child’s home state, then the court may assert jurisdiction.

Should Divorcing Parents Obtain Attorneys for Interstate Custody?

Although parents who are divorced do not need to retain the help of legal professionals, many prefer to retain the services of a knowledgeable family law attorney well-versed in matters related to child custody and interstate custody situations.

Woodbridge Child Custody Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Help Clients with Interstate Custody Agreements

If you have concerns regarding interstate custody, contact a Woodbridge child custody lawyer at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Call us at 908-575-9777 or fill out an online form to set up a free consultation. Located in Somerville and Morristown, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout Somerset, Woodbridge, Morristown, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, and Morris Plains.