Category: Child Visitation

Helping Teens Through Divorce

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Helping Teens Through Divorce

Bridgewater divorce lawyers help clients and their teens through the divorce process.Dealing with their parents’ divorce can be especially hard for children in their teens. With mood swings and detachment already common for this age group, experiencing feelings of insecurity and confusion during this time can worsen the situation. By recognizing the unique needs of teenagers, parents can help support them through the process.

Acknowledge Their Feelings

Parents should acknowledge all the feelings their teenagers may have during the divorce process. Experts recommend more listening and less talking when communicating with this age group. Teenagers are naturally less likely to express their feelings than younger children and it may be more challenging for parents to know how their teen is handling the situation.

Common emotions teens display during a divorce include:

  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Stress
  • Mistrust
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Sadness
  • Guilt
  • Anxiety
  • Relief
  • Embarrassment
  • Jealousy

It may be helpful for teenagers to discuss these feelings with a school counselor or mental health professional, especially if they are having difficulty expressing their emotions at home. Some teens find age appropriate support groups also to be helpful.

Keep Communication Open

Fear of the unknown can be a major concern for teens during the divorce process. Questions related to their future living situation, possible change of schools, visitation, and family finances will be common. Answering your child’s questions with honesty, even if it means telling them the answers are not worked out yet, will go a long way in retaining their trust. Reassurances that the they are loved by both parents should be communicated regularly.

Open communication does not mean parents should share all the details of the divorce with their teenaged children. A parent’s main confidant should never be their son or daughter. This places undue pressure on the child to choose one parent over another. It is never a child’s job to help relieve the emotional pain of their parent.

Relieve Their Guilt

Many teenagers will place the blame of the divorce on themselves. Disagreements over child custody can heighten these feelings. Parents should remember to reassure all their children, especially teenagers, the divorce is not their fault. Carrying around misplaced guilt that they contributed to their parents’ divorce can cause emotional trauma for years to come.

Work Together as Parents

Both parents’ involvement is crucial to reassure children that the end of the marriage does not mean the end of the family. It is important for all children to know the relationship with both parents will continue after the divorce. Spending quality time with both parents during the divorce process should be a priority.

Many teens will test their boundaries. Rules, routines, and discipline should remain consistent. This will require teamwork between divorcing parents, even when this is difficult to achieve. Putting the best interest of the children first is the ultimate goal. Conflict between parents should be kept away from teenagers when possible and children should never be used as a pawn during a divorce battle.

Bridgewater Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Handle Child Custody Cases Throughout New Jersey

Filing for divorce affects every member of a family. At Lyons & Associates, P.C., our dedicated divorce lawyers understand the stress a divorce can cause and work with families to make the process as smooth as possible. Our offices are conveniently located in Somerville and Morristown, New Jersey, where we represent individuals in divorce, child custody, and alimony matters throughout Somerset, Woodbridge, Morristown, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, and Morris Plains. To schedule a free initial consultation with a Bridgewater divorce lawyer today, call us at 908-575-9777 or contact us online.

Guardian Ad Litem in New Jersey

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Guardian Ad Litem in New Jersey

New Jersey child custody lawyers advocate for children’s welfare.A guardian ad litem (GAL) is a special representative appointed by the court to act on behalf of another party. It could be for an infant or minor or another person who has been determined to be incapable of making important life decisions as these parties need help protecting their rights in court. The guardian ad litem relationship is unique in that it lasts only for the duration of the legal proceeding.

In New Jersey, guardians ad litem are sometimes used in high-conflict child custody disputes. The law distinguishes between a “law guardian” and a guardian ad litem. A law guardian must be an attorney licensed to practice law in the state of New Jersey. They are appointed to a child who is the subject of child abuse or neglect, or where parental rights are being terminated. The role of the law guardian according to NJ statute is to “protect the child’s interests and help him express his wishes to the court.”

By contrast, the guardian ad litem in New Jersey is not a direct representative of the child. The guardian ad litem serves the court on behalf of the child. He or she is charged with representing the child’s best interests by investigating and then making recommendations to the court about custody, parenting time/visitation or whichever issue is being contested.

A guardian ad litem may be appointed by the court itself, or by the application of either or both parents. They can be of assistance because their role is to serve as an independent voice for the interests of the child.

Duties of the Guardian Ad Litem

Once appointed guardian ad litem, this person must prepare for the court a written report with their findings and recommendations. They must also testify about their findings if necessary and may be cross examined about them. In order to make a recommendation to the court the GAL will :

  • Interview the children and parents
  • Gather documentary evidence from social workers, child psychologists, doctors, teachers and other experts
  • Interview other people with relevant information such as friends, family, teachers and social workers
  • Get recommendations from independent experts such as child custody evaluators or family psychologists
  • Consult with the lawyers for the parents
  • Consult with the court
  • Obtain assistance from a law guardian if the court approves

The GAL is an independent investigative party on a fact-finding mission to determine what will further the best interests of the child. The GAL can be a social worker, mental health professional, an attorney or other appropriate person. Usually if the GAL’s primary function is in the capacity of an expert, which will lead the court to appoint a GAL from that area of expertise. Parents are free to dispute the testimony of a GAL, or clarify and supplement it. The court is not bound to accept the recommendations of the GAL and the GAL does not make any final decisions about custody or parenting time/visitation.

The role of guardian ad litem comes with great responsibility. In addition to carrying out an investigation, they often monitor the child’s family and attend to the child’s emotional as well as legal needs. They act as a shield protecting the child from the brutal stress of the lawsuit. In addition to their work preparing a report for the court, they also ensure that all parties comply with court orders.

New Jersey Child Custody Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Advocate for Children’s Welfare

If you have further questions about the function of a guardian ad litem or how it could pertain to your case, contact the experienced New Jersey child custody lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. We are dedicated to resolving family issues in a personal way and will take on complex family law cases. Contact us online or call 908-575-9777 for a free and confidential consultation. Our offices are in Somerville, New Jersey, serving clients throughout the state including those in Somerset, Woodbridge, Morristown, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, and Morris Plains.

Work Schedules and Child Custody

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Work Schedules and Child Custody

Woodbridge child custody lawyers help draft enforceable parenting time agreements.After a divorce, sharing custody of the children can be complicated, especially if both parents are working. Shuttling children to and from activities and between homes while holding down a job requires real time management skill and a solid parenting time schedule. If you are in the process of working out a parenting time agreement, it is important to be informed as you do so.

The parenting plan is part of the custody arrangement and is a legally enforceable document. It should ensure that both spouses have their allotted time with the children. A parent who knowingly takes time away from the other by not following the time schedule is endangering his or her future rights to custody.

Important Elements of an Effective Parenting Plan

Of course, at the heart of the parenting time schedule are the needs of the children. The schedule should outline in writing what kind of third party child care arrangements are acceptable, and any plans for after school. If you or your ex has an emergency, there must also be contingency plans for what happens with the children.

Most parenting time schedules also include a provision for the right of first refusal. This means that if for some reason you cannot exercise your timeshare rights, you must first ask the other parent to take the children before using a childcare service.

To help both parents in planning, it is useful to utilize an online calendar sharing application. These are commonly available and an effective way to communicate schedule changes. Information is readily visible to both parties and simplifies the process of combining the schedules of multiple adults and children.

Ideally, the parenting time schedule should be custom tailored to you and your family so that it is feasible given the demands of your work schedule. You may want to enlist the help of a skilled child custody lawyer whose experience can help you make a solid plan that accommodates your needs. Travel time, both parties’ work schedules, school schedules, and the children’s wishes should all be taken into account. Remember that failing to adhere to the arrangement means there could be a court order against you. Under severe circumstances, you can lose your parenting time and jeopardize your custody rights.

It makes sense to craft a parenting time schedule that will be successful rather than having to spend time and energy later amending one that did not work out as expected. Hiring a lawyer with extensive knowledge of child custody laws in New Jersey to assist in creating a solid parenting time schedule can save you from future heartache and disappointment.

Woodbridge Child Custody Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Help Draft Enforceable Parenting Time Agreements

If you are going through a divorce in New Jersey and have questions about child custody and parenting plans, the experienced Woodbridge child custody lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. are ready to help you. Call 908-575-9777 for a free consultation or contact us online. Our offices are conveniently located in Somerville serving clients in Somerset, Woodbridge, Morristown, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, Morris Plains, and throughout New Jersey.

Texting Makes Divorce Easier for Kids

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Texting Makes Divorce Easier for Kids

Morristown divorce lawyers help parents with child custody and visitation issues.Texting has been linked to various negative consequences, including poor grammar, repetitive strain injuries, and car accidents. However, according to a study recently published in the Journal of Family Issues, there is a silver lining to this modern form of communication. Researchers have found that texting makes divorce easier for children because it allows them to maintain communication in a parent-child relationship.

How Divorce Affects the Parent-Child Relationship

After a divorce, one parent typically has physical custody of the child, while the other has visitation rights. Depending on the established visitation schedule, the parent living outside of the family home may not have as much communication with the child as they did before the divorce. This can affect the parent-child relationship and the child’s ability to deal with the divorce in several profound ways.

According to an associate professor at Kansas State University, parent’s amicability following a divorce does not have as much of an impact on children’s resiliency to divorce or the parent-child relationship. Researchers in the study analyzed data from approximately 400 divorced parents in the U.S. with a child between the ages of 10 and 18 years old. They reviewed several aspects of the parental relationship, including:

  • Parental warmth and closeness: Children who have parents that are warm and supportive tend to have fewer behavioral and emotional problems.
  • Parental knowledge of the child: Parents who have knowledge of their children’s daily lives and needs are better equipped to provide a positive, encouraging environment.
  • Inconsistent discipline: Children who receive inconsistent discipline are more prone to anxiety, aggression, and feelings of insecurity.

They also identified three types of co-parenting relationships between the divorced parents: cooperative, moderately engaged, and conflictual. Researchers discovered that neither the type of co-parenting relationship nor the presence of any three aspects of the parental relationship was the most powerful predictor of children’s resiliency to divorce.

Frequency of Communication is Most Important

The most important factor was how often children were in contact with their parents, regardless of the mode of communication. The findings of this study are contrary to previous studies that were conducted before modern technology had become such an integral part of children’s lives. Because children today are more likely to have a smartphone or a tablet, the study’s authors suggest that parents using those communication methods may help in fostering a strong post-divorce, parent-child relationship.

Morristown Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Help Parents with Child Custody and Visitation Issues

If you have any questions regarding child custody or visitation, contact a Morristown divorce lawyer at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Our skilled attorneys provide experienced legal representation on all types of family law matters. From our office in Somerville, New Jersey, we represent clients throughout the state, including those in Somerset, Woodbridge, Morristown, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, and Morris Plains. For a free consultation, please complete our online contact form or call us at 908-575-9777.

How to Tell Others You are Getting Divorced

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Morristown divorce lawyers advise clients to be discreet when revealing their divorce.For many divorcing couples, informing others about their decision to end their marriage can be one of the most stressful and painful parts of divorcing. Couples may want to avoid the shock or judgment they fear will result from the news.

The following suggestions can help divorcing individuals with the process of telling families and friends about filing for divorce.

Make the Children the Priority

It is important for children to hear the news of a divorce directly from their parents, and not second-hand from another family member or friend. Throughout the entire divorce process, the best interest of the children should remain a priority.

Allowing the children to hear the news first can go a long way in building trust during this emotional time. Sitting down together as a family to announce the divorce can reassure the children that the end of the marriage does not mean the end of the family. The children may have many questions and feel anxiety about their future. Working together to explain the situation can help alleviate many of their concerns.

Children rarely need to know all the specific details of their parents’ divorce. Keep in mind the age and maturity level of the children while discussing the reasons behind the divorce. Too much information about the flaws in the marriage or its financial impact on the family’s lifestyle can cause unnecessary guilt, fear, or anxiety in many children.

Anticipate Unexpected Reactions

When telling family and friends about an upcoming divorce, be prepared for unexpected reactions. Many people will be unsure of the best response in this situation and may unintentionally react with inappropriate or hurtful comments. Some insensitive comments are likely to be made, but take all words of advice with a healthy grain of salt.

It will be important to develop a strong support system during this difficult time. Reach out to those family members and friends who can support you through this time of change.

In cases where family members had good relationships with in-laws, there may be mixed emotions. When a divorce occurs, extended family may feel forced to sever all ties with an in-law. This can cause unexpected pain and sadness for the extended family. Try not to demand extended family members act a certain way towards an ex-spouse.

Keep Some Details Private

While it may be necessary to disclose the divorce to more than just family and close friends, it is often unnecessary and counterproductive to provide too many details about the divorce. As part of respecting an ex-partner’s privacy and to maintain a good relationship going forward, especially when children are involved, it is important to respect the privacy of all parties.

Some of the details of the divorce that should generally remain private include those relating to financial settlements, infidelities, and intimate or sordid marriage details.

While informing an employer may be necessary due to changes in tax status, avoid feeling pressured into revealing any information about the divorce which you would like to remain private.

Morristown Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Handle Divorce Matters throughout New Jersey

If you have made the decision to separate or file for divorce, the experienced Morristown divorce lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. are here to help. Our lawyers handle a wide range of family law matters including those related to divorce, spousal support, child custody and visitation. To schedule a free initial consultation, call us at 908-575-9777 or submit an online inquiry form. From our Somerville, New Jersey office we serve clients throughout New Jersey, including Somerset, Woodbridge, Morristown, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, and Morris Plains.

Do Grandparents Have the Right to Seek Court Ordered Visitation With Their Grandchild(ren)?

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Grandparents Visitation Rights

New Jersey Family Law Lawyers discuss grandparents seeking court ordered visitation with their grandchildren. Often times in family law matters, there is a break down in the relationship between a grandparent and a parent, but the grandparent would still like to maintain their relationship with their grandchild. The State of New Jersey recognizes the relationship between a grandparent and a grandchild is of value and should be maintained if in the best interest of the child.

Under N.J.S.A. § 9:2-7.1 (a), “a grandparent or any sibling of a child residing in this State may make application before the Superior Court, in accordance with the Rules of Court, for an order for visitation. It shall be the burden of the applicant to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the granting of visitation is in the best interests of the child.”

The factors the court considers are:

(1) The relationship between the child and the applicant;
(2) The relationship between each of the child’s parents or the person with whom the child is residing and the applicant;
(3) The time which has elapsed since the child last had contact with the applicant;
(4) The effect that such visitation will have on the relationship between the child and the child’s parents or the person with whom the child is residing;
(5) If the parents are divorced or separated, the time sharing arrangement which exists between the parents with regard to the child;
(6) The good faith of the applicant in filing the application;
(7) Any history of physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect by the applicant; and
(8) Any other factor relevant to the best interests of the child.

The court will find a “prima facie evidence that visitation is in the child’s best interest if the applicant had, in the past, been a full-time caretaker for the child.” N.J.S.A. § 9:2-7.1 (c).

In the event a grandparent is seeking visitation with his or her grandchild, mediation prior to seeking court intervention may result in a resolution that accommodates all of the parties. Mediation can be less expensive, yield a result in a shorter period of time, and has the potential to assist in creating a cooperative relationship between the grandparent and the parent.

If you or someone you know is seeking visitation or custody of his or her grandchild, please call the skilled attorneys at Lyons & Associates, at (908) 575-9777 for a free consultation about your case or contact us online. The attorneys at Lyons & Associates have substantial expertise in such matters exclusively focusing on family law and family law related issues.

Written by: Sara E. Kucsan, Esq.

Why Using the Our Family Wizard Calendar Can Help Co-Parent Better

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New Jersey family law lawyers at Lyons & Associates recommend using Our Family Wizard Calendar for better co-parenting.Raising children with someone you are no longer in a relationship with will require the coordination of multiple schedules, including both parents and the child(ren). Each parent’s schedule likely includes job-related responsibilities, vacations, birthdays, family gatherings, extracurricular activities, etc., and it is expected that each parent will want to include the child(ren) in many, if not all, of their special times. As such, maintaining clear, open and consistent communication with the other parent is essential in ensuring that everyone is on the same page as it relates to parenting time.

Our Family Wizard (www.ourfamilywizard.com) is a program designed to help separate households communicate and coordinate parenting time schedules, among other things. Although this program can be helpful for all separated parenting scenarios, it is most helpful in difficult or otherwise contentious situations where parents have difficulty communicating directly.

Within the Our Family Wizard program, parties can submit parenting time vacation days, or other special parenting time requests, share health and education information related to your child(ren), and even submit reimbursement requests for out-of-pocket expenses, among other things without having to directly communicate with each other.

There is an annual cost associated with the program; however, if you find yourself going to court regularly because you and your ex cannot agree on matters related to your child, you may find that Our Family Wizard is much more cost effective.

What if one parent wants to use Our Family Wizard, but the other parent refuses? In such a case, it is not uncommon for a parent to file a Notice of Motion to compel the other parent to utilize the program as a means of communication related to the children, in addition to sharing in, or completely paying for, the costs associated with the program.

If you are interested in incorporating the Our Family Wizard program into your custody and parenting time agreement, or have other concerns about your custody and parenting time agreement, our skilled and knowledgeable New Jersey family law attorneys at Lyons & Associates are available to speak with you and answer any questions that you may have. We invite you to contact us online or give us a call at our office at 908-575-9777 to schedule an appointment.

Written by: Joanna Adu, Esq.

Nesting Agreements

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Somerville divorce lawyers assist clients with nesting agreements, parenting plans, and all aspects of divorce.Nesting agreements are a way to keep children of divorce living in the marital home when their parents have decided to part ways. It works by letting the children live in the home full time while the parents take turns living there with them. Nesting presumes that there is a second space, which could be a nearby apartment, where the parent who is not in the home with the children stays.

Parents who do not wish to upset their children’s living situation because of their school situation or other factors may find a nesting agreement ideal. For a nesting agreement to succeed, the parents must be on amicable terms and willing to work with each other.

Goals of a Nesting Agreement

It is important to note that a nesting agreement is not a parenting plan and that all the details of a parenting plan will have to be worked out in addition to the nesting agreement. The parenting plan determines the children’s schedule for holidays and vacations, child support, medical and dental insurance, payment of college expenses and tax deductions.

Besides the schedule for when each parent will be in the house with the children, a nesting agreement must cover:

  • How the expenses of the house and its upkeep will be divided, including utilities, repairs, cleaning, and landscaping
  • How the expense of the second residence will be divided
  • How the tax breaks from mortgage interest will be divided
  • How child support payments will be made and to whom

Because the primary goal of a nesting agreement is to allow the children to live in the marital home, most arrangements are temporary and last until either the children have finished school, or one person enters a serious relationship, which can make a nesting situation awkward. It is important to explain to the children that having their parents share the home does not mean they will be getting back together.

Things to Consider When Creating Your Nesting Agreement

For certain couples, continuing to use the marital home can be difficult even though they alternate spending time there with the children. Seeing the belongings of your ex-spouse can make it harder to make a clean emotional break. Ideally, each person should have their own bedroom in the home. Respect for each other’s privacy is key in a nesting agreement.

It is important to plan for what will happen to the home at the end of your agreement. Will one spouse continue to use it? If so, then a plan needs to be worked out for payment of household expenses or transferring ownership. Will you put it on the market and split the proceeds? These are important issues that need to be considered from the start and written into the agreement to avoid grievances down the road. A nesting agreement crafted with the personal attention of an experienced family law attorney has the best chance of success.

Somerville Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Assist Clients with Nesting Agreements, Parenting Plans, and All Aspects of Divorce

If you have questions about nesting agreements, contact the dedicated Somerville divorce lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. for personalized attention to your legal needs. We provide free and confidential consultations, so call us today at 908-575-9777 or contact us online. From our office in Somerville, New Jersey, we serve the surrounding areas, including Somerset County, Morris County, Union County, and the communities of Bridgewater, Mendham, Morristown, South Plainfield, and Somerset.

Splitting Up Together

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New Jersey divorce lawyers help develop parenting plans that are good for the entire family.There’s a new show on television called “Splitting Up Together”. It’s about a couple with three children who decide to get divorced but continue to parent their children on an equal basis. While one parent lives in the house for the week, the other parent lives in a fixed up, detached garage in the backyard. Then the next week they switch places. In this case, the garage is separate enough for each parent to have his or her own space but close enough that the parents can help each other with the children, when necessary. For the most part, the arrangement seems to work, although I’ve only seen through episode 3.

The arrangement these parents adopted is called “nesting” and seems to work for them. In the last episode the father is having difficulty handling his young teenage daughter. During Dad’s week in the house, his daughter is the only female as she has two brothers. Dad gets frustrated with his daughter in that he spends his week being called out for not cooking meals, ordering take out each night, not doing the laundry and leaving the house a mess. Finally, out of frustration, Dad walks across the backyard to ask Mom for advice. It seems he doesn’t quite know what to do with his suddenly grown up daughter.

During the half hour episode, Mom and Dad realize they need to parent together and that even though they are divorced, it’s tough to handle kids on your own. Parenting today can be difficult, no matter what the living situation. It’s important to remember that even though you are no longer married, your children still need your love and guidance. Working together to raise them may not always be easy but, in the end, is totally worth it.

Remember, there is no “right way” to get divorced. Whatever works for you and your family is the way to go. At the law offices of Lyons & Associates we’re here to assist you with developing a parenting plan that’s right for your family. We place a premium on personalized service and attention for all family matters. For a private consultation with a skilled divorce lawyer in New Jersey, contact us online or call our offices at 908-575-9777.

Written By: ChrisAnn Wright, Esq.

Quality Visitation Time

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Mendham child custody lawyers help create customized parenting plans for quality visitation.When a couple with children divorces, part of the child custody process will involve developing a parenting plan that details which parent the children will be with on certain days and for how long, as well as any emergency planning for when one or the other parent cannot be there for their allotted time.

In situations where no history of child abuse or neglect, domestic abuse or substance abuse exists, it is generally in the best interest of the child to have quality visitation time with both parents. Although creating a parenting plan may be difficult for divorcing parents, the adjustment will be easier for the child when parents demonstrate healthy ways of communicating and resolving problems. It is important to understand that a parenting time schedule that is best for the children may not be the best for the parents and that all parties will need to remain flexible to make the parenting plan successful.

Quality Time Together

When the details of a parenting plan have been determined, how you spend your time with your children is what they will remember and not which parent had more time with them. You may feel inclined to show them your love by spoiling them with gifts or bending the rules when you are together, but in the long run this will not benefit the children and causes more harm than good. Spending quality time together does not have to be extravagant and expensive. Kids love to use their imaginations and be creative, so follow their lead and invent some new family games if you have exhausted traditional board games. Learn what your child likes to do and plan activities around their interests.

Outdoor sports and activities are fun and good for your health. Going out and moving around is a great mood regulator too. On the days you cannot go outside, share stories together. Kids love to hear about what you did when you were little or their family history.

If you have more than one child, it is important to spend time with each child alone. Make arrangements to have a dinner date with each one so that you have special time alone. You can also read together before bedtime individually, instead of together, so that each child can cuddle with you before falling asleep.

When you are not physically together with your child you can still share phone calls, facetime and text messages to remain in close contact. Frame photos of your special time together that they can keep in their bedroom. Although divorce means that you will no longer be constantly physically together, by developing a quality relationship with your children you will never be truly apart.

Mendham Child Custody Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Help Create Customized Parenting Plans

At Lyons & Associates, P.C. we take the time to get to know each client and their needs before assisting them in creating a plan for parenting time. Our Mendham child custody lawyers are experienced in all areas of family and will work with you to resolve your legal issues successfully. Call us today at 908-575-9777 or contact us online. An initial consultation is free.