Category: Child Visitation

Holiday Co-Parenting

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Mendham divorce lawyers help co-parents construct agreements regarding parenting time.Co-parenting after a divorce can be difficult, especially around the holidays. From birthdays and special events to major holidays, divorced parents may face challenges when attempting to coordinate plans for parenting time. Despite the complications and stress that may arise from the holiday season, with communication and compromise co-parents can establish a parenting plan that will ensure time well spent with children during important holidays and special occasions.

Establishing a Holiday Co-Parenting Plan

Depending on the child custody agreement of your divorce, your parenting plan may differ. When working with a lawyer to draft a co-parenting plan, it is important to put the child’s needs first. After a divorce, co-parenting can be especially difficult if there are hard feelings, bitterness, or difficulties where communication is concerned. Keeping these things in mind, developing a parenting plan will help to alleviate the stress of holidays and special occasions by allowing both parents adequate time with their children.

Traditions, stress from the holiday season, time management, and seasonal obligations may be difficult for everyone, but especially for those who are going through a divorce. In order to handle holidays effectively after a divorce, it is important to establish parameters depending on the type of co-parenting relationship that you have.

A parenting plan may set forth some of the following parameters in order to ensure that each parent is given an adequate amount of time with children during the holidays:

  • Alternating Each Holiday

In this situation, holidays and birthdays are evenly split between parents. One parent will be granted time spent with their children for the entire day on “even years”, while the other will be given “odd years”.

  • Splitting Holiday Time

In this situation, both parents are granted time with their children on each holiday, including birthdays. Specified times are set for each parent in the parenting plan, with designated times for transitions, including drop-off and pick-up times for children.

  • Spending Time Together

Depending on the relationship between co-parents, it may be possible to spend time together as a family unit. In this situation, a set amount of time should be designated in which both parents spend time together with the child on holidays, special occasions, and birthdays.

Handling Holidays After Divorce

 Handling important events and holidays will come with a number of challenges, but compromise and communication are key factors in successful co-parenting. Divorce can be stressful on all family members involved so it is important to remember that the child’s needs come first. When scheduling holiday time, create a conflict-free zone, be flexible, and focus on spending time with your children in order to develop and enjoy a quality relationship with your child.

Mendham Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Help Co-Parents Construct Agreements Regarding Parenting Time

The holidays are coming up. If you and your co-parent are having difficulties coming to an agreement regarding holidays, including birthdays and special occasions, following your divorce in New Jersey, call Lyons & Associates at 908-575-9777 or contact us online. Our experienced team of Mendham divorce lawyers can help you to come up with a co-parenting agreement.

Child Relocation Standard Rewritten by NJ Supreme Court

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New Jersey Child Custody Lawyers Report: Child Relocation Standard Rewritten by NJ Supreme CourtIn the recent child relocation court case of Bisbing vs. Bisbing, decided on August 8, 2017, the New Jersey Supreme Court overturned a 16-year-old precedent that was used to determine if primary custodial parents could relocate with their children to another state despite the alternate custodial parents’ objections. Prior to this new ruling, primary custodial parent could relocate with their children to another state as long as the move was made in good faith, not inimical to their relationship with the alternative custodial parent, and did not prove harmful for the children. The new ruling would require primary custodial parents to prove their case by showing cause with the analysis of 15 “best interest” factors for legal relocation to occur. Although most states have not adopted these new measures, the ruling in the case is a landmark decision that will upend child relocation arrangements between parents.

Child custody arrangements contribute to the stress and complications that divorce may bring to a family, but are vital in keeping children happy, safe, and secure. When figuring out what living arrangement works best for the children, many factors, including relocation logistics, must be considered, and ironed out before the divorce is final.

If you or someone you know has a question about child custody, contact our child custody lawyers in New Jersey at Lyons & Associates PC at 908-575-9777 or contact us online to schedule a consultation. We represent individuals with child custody issues throughout New Jersey, including those in Bedminster, Bridgewater, South Plainfield, Mendham, Somerville, Somerset, and Woodbridge.







The Dog Ate My Homework

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When a Non-Custodial Parent Fails to Help Their Child With Homework During Mid-Week Parenting Time

New Jersey Child Custody Lawyers discuss homework and parenting time
The old saying, “My dog ate my homework” may work for a child, but in the Court’s eyes, it may not suffice when it comes to a parent’s responsibility to assist his or her child with homework during the school week.

In the recent unpublished trial court opinion M.C. v. P.C., 2016 N.J.Super, Unpub. LEXIS 2594, Judge Jones stressed the importance of the non-custodial parent’s obligations during mid-week overnight parenting time which includes, but is not limited to, helping their children with completing their homework.

Judge Jones determined, as a matter of law, that while mid-week parenting time is not per se contrary to a child’s best interests, the non-custodial parent implicitly bear duties during his or her mid-week parenting time to oversee the child’s homework is completed and he or she is ready for the next day of school.

Judge Jones also suggested the follow protocol that requires cooperation of both parents to act in their child’s best interests and in line with the New Jersey Custody statute:

1) First, the parties will jointly request in writing that the children’s teachers advise them jointly in writing, via email if there is any significant observations or concern regarding a child being fully prepared for class on any day, including homework completion, test preparation and performance, and in-class alertness;

2) Regarding homework, it is defendant’s affirmative obligation during his overnight parenting time to make certain that all of the children’s homework, including assignments and readiness for any scheduled tests the next day, are complete. In the event that there are any incomplete assignments, defendant has an affirmative obligation to notify plaintiff by email by the children’s bedtime on that evening as to what assignments have not been completed by the children and the reasons they were unable to complete same. This way, in exceptional circumstances requiring plaintiff to intervene the following morning before school to help the children complete any incomplete or missing assignments, plaintiff will at least have some reasonable advance notice of the situation;

3) If plaintiff alleges that homework has not been completed and that she has [*23] to prepare children on the morning of school due to defendant’s alleged failure to oversee the children’s scholastic responsibilities, then to the extent possible she shall document any and all missing or incomplete assignments as well as any work which she had to do with the children on such days, and she will forward copies of this information to defendant within 5 days thereafter with scanned attachments as applicable, so that an ongoing record of any such problems is in the possession of both parties, and so evidence of such documentation may be supplied to the court as necessary upon further application.

4) If missing or incomplete homework or inadequate test preparation by the children remains an ongoing issue of concern, then the parties may schedule a joint meeting with any of the children’s applicable teachers to discuss same. Any such discussions, however, shall take place in a manner where both parties treat each other with dignity in a mutually respectful, mature, and courteous manner, with an understanding that such civility between parents is overwhelmingly in their children’s best interests. Further, either party may file further applications as necessary to address any [*24] ongoing disputes of significance regarding the children’s educational progress and development.

M.C. v. P.C., 2016 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 2594, *22-24 (Ch.Div. Nov. 28, 2016).

So, does a non-custodial parent’s failure to help their children with homework result in a change in the parenting time arrangement? Not necessarily; it is fact-sensitive as with many family law matters and turns on the actual evidence.

As you can see, mid-week parenting time arrangements can have the potential to greatly affect a child’s best interests. For more information regarding parenting time arrangements contact the Law Office of Lyons & Associates. At the law office of Lyons & Associates, we represent men and women throughout New Jersey who have unresolved family law matters. We place a premium on personalized service and attention. For a private consultation, contact us online, view our website at, or call our office at 908-575-9777.

By: Marissa DelMauro

Difference Between Legal and Physical Custody

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Mendham Child Custody Lawyers discuss difference between Legal and Physical CustodyA parent is said to have physical custody when he or she has actual, physical custody of marital children on a day-to-day basis. In other words, the child and parent live together. Legal custody is a concept that is separate and distinct from physical custody. The parent with legal custody has the legal right to make important decisions about a child’s life, including decisions regarding their education and religious upbringing.

Joint Legal Custody

Historically, courts have awarded joint legal custody whenever possible. Public policy provides that joint legal custody promotes the best interests of the child, because it allows input from both parents in their child’s upbringing. Although it is not mandatory, joint legal custody is the expected outcome in most cases, absent a parent’s gross misconduct or abandonment of the child. Even if one parent has sole physical custody, courts typically award joint legal custody.

However, the concept of joint legal custody is always evolving. Professionals are taking note of how difficult it often is to implement joint legal custody in a peaceful, low-conflict manner. As such, mental health professionals, lawyers, judges, and parents are always striving to develop new and better models for sharing parental decision-making.

Issues with Implementing Joint Legal Custody

Parent of joint custody is for both parents to make major decisions that are in the best interests of the child, and that these decisions will be made equally. However, parents often divorce due to an inability to communicate and cooperate with each other, skills that are necessary when making important decisions regarding children. Thus, implementing joint legal custody arrangements is often fraught with conflict.

Minor decisions, such as what a child is to eat or wear, are made by the parent with physical custody. The definition as to what constitutes a major decision is often a source of conflict. Generally, a major decision is one that involves the health, education, and/or welfare of the child. These terms are so broad that it can be difficult to know when you need to consult the other parent. When parents disagree, the court is typically called upon to issue a ruling. Courts often guide parents to utilize mediation to resolve these disputes.

Parenting Coordination

In light of these issues, one modern alternative is parenting coordination. This is a process where an independent third party (usually a lawyer or mental health professional) is appointed to serve as a coordinator, to facilitate low-conflict decision-making between parents with joint legal custody. Parents may call on more than one expert to help resolve more complex issues.

Parallel Parenting

Another modern model for resolving conflict is called parallel parenting. Under this model, both parents have the right to make major decisions in their child’s life. For example, a child can be raised in two different faiths simultaneously. Depending on the conflict at issue, this is often an inexpensive, effective solution.

Mendham Child Custody Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Guide Parents Through Divorce and Custody in New Jersey

Joint legal custody is thought of as best for children, but it can be difficult to implement. If you have questions about the best course of action for your family, contact the Mendham child custody lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Call our Somerville, New Jersey offices today at 908-575-9777 or complete our online contact form. We serve clients throughout New Jersey including those in Somerset CountyMorris CountyUnion County, and SomervilleBridgewaterSomersetBasking RidgeMendham, and Morristown.




Benefits of Overnight with Dad

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Mendham Child Custody Lawyers discuss the benefits of staying Overnight with DadWhen the children of divorce are in their infant or toddler years, mothers often worry that joint custody arrangements will have a negative effect on their bonds with the children. According to a new study conducted by Arizona State University, young infants and toddlers benefit most when time is shared equally between mother and father.

The study’s authors found that infants and toddlers that spent overnight visits with mom as well as dad had better relationships with both parents in their young adult years. In fact, the more overnights spent with dad during those early years, the closer their relationship was during adolescence and adulthood. The study also found that the mother-child bond was not negatively affected by overnights with dad. The emotional and mental health of mothers with young children actually improved when the children spent overnights with dad. When the demands of early childhood are handled primarily by single mothers, the resulting stress and turmoil can lead to resentment and depression.

Time Spent with Infants and Toddlers Leads to Increased Confidence in Parenting

Fathers that assumed care for their infant and toddler children were more invested in their parenting, as they experienced firsthand what was required to care for a young child. Having to fend for themselves during times of illness or sleepless nights, and being directly responsible for meals, baths, laundry, and sleeping patterns helped fathers gain confidence in their parenting skills. This benefited the dads as well as the child through the school-age, teenage, and young adult years.

In the same respect, spending overnights with dad helps the child develop a deeper understanding of their father’s role in their lives, and helps them to become familiar with dad’s parenting style and personality. Acclimating to these aspects benefit both dad and child in the later years. Dads that understand their child’s unique personality and see it develop over the growing years can relate to them on a much more personal level as adults.

The study also found that the benefits of time spent with dad were not affected by the quality of the relationship between the parents. Court ordered child custody arrangements had the same benefits as mutually agreed upon arrangements. Positive outcomes to spending time with dad were also unaffected by unfriendly or stressful relationships between parents post divorce. Researchers concluded that adult children who had the best relationships with both parents spent equal time with them throughout their early childhood years.

Mendham Child Custody Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Help Divorcing Couples Reach Amicable Child Custody Agreements

If you or someone you know is considering a divorce where children are involved, the experienced team of Mendham child custody lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. can help you reach an amicable child custody agreement. Our compassionate lawyers are sensitive to the emotional aspects of child custody issues and work hard to help divorcing couples through the process with the least amount of stress possible.

Call us at 908-575-9777, or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Our Somerset, New Jersey, offices serve clients throughout Somerset County, Morris County, and Union County as well as the towns of Somerville, Bridgewater, Somerset, Basking Ridge, Mendham, and Morristown.

Mendham Child Custody Lawyers Discuss Summer Co-Parenting

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Mendham Child Custody Lawyers Discuss Summer Co-ParentingMany divorced parents face challenges when attempting to reach an agreement on parenting time throughout the year. The summer holiday presents additional complications but with communication and compromise, it can be navigated successfully.

While most parents continue their normal work schedules during the summer, school is out and children are on summer vacation. This two to three month long holiday represents fun and relaxation for children, but can be the most stressful time of the year for recently separated or divorced parents. Communication and compromise are essential to ensuring that summer vacations go off without a hitch.

Communication is Key

A pre-existing parenting plan may need to be adjusted to accommodate the summer schedule. If the plan does not address how parenting time will be divided during the summer, co-parents will need to communicate in order to come to an agreement.

One parent may want to take the children on a trip during the summer vacation. In the case of such special events, it is best to plan ahead and let the other parent know in advance so as to avoid contentious surprises.

Some parents may experience feelings of resentment toward the other parent when having to give up quality time with the children. These feelings are best discussed with family members, friends or a health care professional and not directly with the children. Despite negative feelings co- parents may have toward each other, children should be encouraged to spend time with both parents free from feelings of guilt or the need to choose a side.

Another issue that will need to be discussed is money. Who will pay for the children’s summer camp, trips or extracurricular activities is an important factor to be worked out in advance. Children should not be burdened with adult problems; they do not need to know who is paying for what. The summer holiday is not a chance for one parent to outdo the other but rather an opportunity for both parents to equitably provide an enjoyable time for the children.

Compromise is Crucial

Divorce often brings changes to family dynamics. Being flexible and open to compromise can help ease the transition for children. Despite parents’ best efforts to plan ahead, unforeseen circumstances will inevitably arise and need to be dealt with amicably.

Allowing children to have a say in where and how they spend their vacation will assist in their comfort level with all the changes. After all, it’s their summer vacation so they should have a say in the plans.

Even if an agreement regarding parenting time was previously reached, adjustments may be required. As children get older, their interests change. What used to be a summer filled with theme park vacations may now be a summer filled with college campus visits. Also, as time passes parents may move or remarry. All these factors should be taken into account when revisiting a parenting plan.

Child custody in New Jersey is determined with the primary consideration being the best interests of the child. This principle should also be the foundational guideline used by parents when allocating parenting time during the summer holiday.

Mendham Child Custody Lawyers at Lyons & Associates Help Co-Parents Construct Agreements Regarding Parenting Time during the Summertime

Summer is just around the corner. If you and your co-parent are having difficulty coming to an agreement regarding summer vacation parenting time, call Lyons & Associates at 908-575-9777 or submit an online contact form. Our experienced team of Mendham child custody lawyers can help you construct a mutually beneficial agreement.


Mendham Divorce Lawyers: Come Together on Graduation Day

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Mendham Divorce Lawyers: Come Together on Graduation DayA child’s graduation from elementary school, high school, or college is an exciting time for the entire family. But for divorced spouses, coming together to celebrate this proud accomplishment is not always easy. Here are five tips to make your child’s graduation a peaceful, happy time for both parents, and more importantly the graduate.

Make it all about your child. Your child has surely worked hard to reach this day and he or she deserves to be in the limelight. Arguing about who should attend and where they should sit only detracts from your child’s accomplishment. Never pressure your child to choose between parents or make decisions that make him or her uncomfortable.

This is not a contest. Avoid using your child’s graduation to demonstrate who is the more generous or favorite parent. Attendance should not be based on who spent the most on the child’s education, or who can afford the best gift. Your child needs both parents at his or her side on this special day, and all the special days to come. Step-parents who have been involved in raising the child should also be included if space permits.

Leave the hostility at home. Even if your divorce was especially bitter, graduation day is not the time to hash out the details. Nothing is more important than your child’s accomplishment. Save the distracting arguments, name calling, and accusations for another day. If your child asks, pose for photos with your ex. You can also take photos of just you and your child.

Host separate celebrations. If you and your ex are leading separate lives, consider throwing separate celebrations. Maybe you live in different cities, or have not seen each other in years. Each of you can host a graduation dinner or party with your own respective families and friends. Your child is unlikely to protest to attending more than one celebration in his or her honor.

Avoid each other if necessary. Unfortunately for some couples that have experienced particularly acrimonious splits, it is best for them to keep their distance. Especially with divorces that involve infidelity or domestic abuse, some spouses should not be expected to interact. If this is the case for you, elect to sit in a different area than your ex and celebrate separately after the event. Be civil, be discreet, and focus on your child’s happy day.

With a bit of patience, acceptance, and perspective, you can truly enjoy this family milestone. As your child prepares to leave the nest, contact with your ex will become more limited. Try to set aside your differences on this happy occasion and you can create memories for you and your graduate to cherish forever.

Mendham Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Navigate Difficult Divorces

Medham divorce lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. support clients going through divorce, making sure their interests are protected and they achieve the best resolution possible. Call our Somerville, New Jersey offices at 908-575-9777 or contact us online. We serve clients throughout the state of New Jersey including those in Somerset County, Morris County, Union County, and the towns of Somerville, Bridgewater, Mendham, Basking Ridge, Somerset, and Morristown.

New Jersey Divorce Lawyers: Application for Modification of Custody and Parenting Time Arrangements

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New Jersey Divorce Lawyers discuss Custody and Parenting Time ArrangementsWhen seeking a modification of a current custody or parenting time arrangement, whether you are the one seeking it or if it is the other parent, it is important to understand the potential hurdles the filing party will have to overcome before a Court will actually effectuate any type of requested change to the schedule that is already in place.

“A judgment involving the custody of minor children is subject to modification at any time upon the ground of changed circumstances…the party seeking a modification bears the burden of proof.” Sheehan v. Sheehan, 51 N.J. Super. 276, 287 (App. Div. 1958). If you have read this firm’s blogs in the past, you are no doubt familiar with the concept of “changed circumstances”; however, one of the most overlooked aspects of any application for change of custody and parenting time arrangements is the fact that whoever is seeking the modification has to the duty to prove or disprove any of the disputed facts of the matter. This is important not only if you are the party seeking the change, but also if you are the party defending an application for change.

The primary consideration for the court remains the best interests of the child(ren) and whether the alleged change in circumstances affects same. Our case law is clear that one “seeking to change the child’s custodial status will have the burden of proving by a preponderance of the credible evidence that the potentiality for serious psychological harm accompanying or resulting from such a move will not become a reality.” M.P. v. S.P., 169 N.J. Super. 425, 431-32 (App. Div. 1979). This can be done in many ways, the most effective being either expert testimony or some type of tangible evidence of egregious parenting or behavior on behalf of the other party. This same standard applies whether the custody/parenting time arrangement was ordered by the court, or agreed to by the parties. Abouzahr v. Mater- Abouzahr, 361 N.J. Super. 135, 152 (App. Div. 2003).

As a general principle, absent “exigent circumstances,” “changes in custody are not to be made without a plenary hearing.” Entress v. Entress, 326 N.J. Super. 125, 133 (App. Div. 2005). If the Court finds that the pleadings or applications submitted by the parties demonstrate that material facts are in dispute, the Court will order a plenary hearing, which is, in essence, a mini-trial. As such, should you be thinking about filing an application for modification of custody and parenting time, be aware that you could be in for a long and layered process before any court order will grant your request. It is important that you hire a qualified and experienced attorney to navigate through this potentially lengthy process.

If you or someone you know has any questions about an application or modification of custody and parenting time arrangements and what that entails, contact one of the skilled New Jersey divorce attorneys at Lyons & Associates at 908-575-9777. You can also fill out our online intake form.


Written by: William Lemega, Esq.


Former Spice Girl Claims Estranged Husband Abused Her

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A shocking court filing by former Spice Girl, Mel B, claims that her estranged husband, Stephen Belafonte, brutally abused her, and had an affair with their nanny. The court filing instituted a temporary restraining order against her husband for numerous physical attacks throughout their marriage. They were only married for about six months when the attacks began, which coincided with her international success on television. Although the woman known as Scary Spice, whose real name is Melanie Brown, covered for the abuse in the beginning, the violence escalated after the Spice Girls’ appearance at the London Olympics in 2012, which eventually led to a suicide attempt. He threatened her with the release of a sex tape after angrily accusing her of a flirtation with another singer. Belafonte also engaged in sexual relations with the nanny, which resulted in the woman becoming pregnant. At the court filing, Mel B was granted custody of their five-year-old daughter with no visitation for the father until a follow-up hearing.

When domestic violence becomes part of a marriage like in former Spice Girl, Mel B’s marriage, it may lead to the disassembling of the union and leave behind lasting mental and emotional trauma for the victimized party. If children are involved in the dissolution of a marriage, especially with abuse at its foundation, careful planning and consideration is needed to protect the children and the victim.

For more information on domestic violence matters, and how we can assist you, contact our New Jersey divorce lawyers at Lyons & Associates PC at 908-575-9777. To schedule a consultation, contact us online. We represent individuals with unresolved family law matters throughout New Jersey at our offices in Bedminster, Bridgewater, South Plainfield, and Woodbridge.

Bridgewater Divorce Lawyers: Equal Parenting After a Divorce

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Equal parenting is the concept of equally and fairly dividing all duties and responsibilities regarding children after a divorce. It is an important concept to consider if your marriage is ending and you have children. While shared parenting can provide a number of benefits to children post-divorce, equal parenting is an ideal arrangement that is optimal for most children whose parents are divorcing. Even in a situation of high conflict between the parents, research shows that in households employing equal parenting, conflict is reduced.

Quality vs. Quantity of Time

“Quality time” is a phrase we hear often with regard to child rearing regardless of the state of the parents’ marriage. In a divorce the most contentious issue to be resolved can often be custody of the children and visitation rights. Where will they spend the bulk of their time and with whom? Some child development experts would say that the quality of attachments formed early in a child’s life is the most important factor in their well-being later in life. If that is true, then it can be argued that quantity of time spent together is crucial to forming those important attachments.

Equal parenting provides the ideal environment for the child to develop and maintain high quality relationships with both parents. With duties and responsibilities equally divided, both parents remain involved and are available to the children. Both remain as authoritative figures in the children’s lives, and both can be supportive in their day to day activities. The rituals performed together every day, such as waking and bedtime routines, getting to and from school, and mealtimes together are where attachment bonds are formed. Without quantity of time spent together, parents lose out on the opportunity to build and sustain a high quality relationship with their children. There is a direct correlation between quantity of time and quality of parent-child bond.

Primary Bonds and the Well-Being of Parents

Some child psychologists maintain that children develop a so-called primary bond with one parent or caregiver. To maintain this view, one would have to ignore the fact that a child could possibly have more than one primary attachment, or could feel comfortable turning to more than one person for support. In a situation where equal parenting exists and both parents are involved and committed to the process, then the child can form a “primary bond” with both parents.

Possibly the strongest argument in favor of equal parenting is that it removes the threat of “losing the child” to the other spouse. The well-being of parents is crucial as a foundation to a quality relationship with their children. A divorce filled with strife as to “who gets the kids” or the feeling that they have been taken, is not a good basis for a healthy relationship of any kind. Equal parenting also means the job of parenting is shared, resulting in one parent not becoming overwhelmed by the demands and responsibilities of raising children.

Bridgewater Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Help Navigate Child Custody Issues

If you are considering a divorce in New Jersey and want to find out more about equal parenting, our caring divorce lawyers in Bridgewater at Lyons & Associates, P.C. will help you decide what is best for you and your family. Call 908-575-9777 or contact us online. We serve clients throughout New Jersey including Somerset, Somerville, Mendham, Bridgewater, and Woodbridge.