When you start a relationship with someone, you usually hope that it will be long-lasting and full of love. Unfortunately, that isn't always the case, and you may find yourself facing a family court hearing to determine child custody, to acquire a restraining order, or to defend against a restraining order. Although you may feel overwhelmed by and uncertain about the proceedings, you don't have to address this alone. An experienced and talented attorney can walk with you throughout the process and ensure that you can smoothly navigate the complex legal system.
Where Should you Go for a Family Court Hearing?
If you have a family court hearing for a case in Atlantic County, generally, the judge will hear your case at the county seat in Mays Landing. It's important to show up early and connect with your attorney so you can review any last-minute notes or strategies. The address for the Atlantic County Superior Courthouse in Mays Landing is 4997 Unami Blvd, Mays Landing, NJ 08330.
If there is overflow and you have to go to the Atlantic City Superior Court, then the address is 201 Bacharach Blvd, Atlantic City, NJ 08401.
Showing up at the wrong courthouse isn't the right way to begin your hearing, especially with so much at stake. Make sure to double-check your summons or hearing notice and to verify the location with your attorney before the actual day. This way, you can account for traffic and travel time.
Atlantic County Family Court
In Atlantic County, the family court, the Atlantic Family Practice Division is responsible for several types of cases that pertain to families. For example, the cases on their docket might include concerns such as juvenile delinquency, foster care placement, domestic violence, paternity, and custody. Most frequently, these cases will be heard at the Atlantic County Superior Courthouse.
What are the Different Types of Child Custody?
Although you may be familiar with the term “visitation rights” when it comes to conversations about child custody, in New Jersey, the courts are partial to “parenting time.” This phrase reiterates the fact that the role is that of a parent, not a visitor. When a judge renders a determination around child custody arrangements, the decision is made based on what the courts believe is in the child's best interest. As a result of this foundational lens, both parents in New Jersey start out with equal footing when it comes to child custody—there is no innate preference for a mother or a father.
The final custody arrangement may take a variety of forms, depending on what the circumstances are. Generally, however, there will be allowances for legal custody and for physical custody. Physical as well as legal custody could be equal or could be split into something more nuanced. Physical custody generally refers to where a child will live, and legal custody refers to the right to make decisions that impact the child's wellbeing, such as medical and educational choices.
What Influences Child Custody Determinations?
As previously stated, at its heart, child custody is determined by what the judge deems is in the best interest of the child. Both parents will be able to provide evidence that supports their perspective, and the courts will most likely also make further inquiries. There's a range of questions they may ask or factors they consider, all to decide what the child's best interest is.
Some of these may include considering the parents' work schedules, the children's schooling, and prior relationships that the children had with their parents.
The judge may also examine factors around safety. Is there a prior history of domestic violence? What is best for the safety of the child? A component of safety also includes how well parents can communicate with each other about their child. Are they able to communicate and cooperate in service of making decisions about their child?
The courts will also look for what promotes the most stability and consistency in the child's life. In the time of upheaval that often accompanies a separation or divorce, it's usually best to keep as much as possible steady for the children's development.
Restraining Orders in Atlantic County, NJ
A restraining order is a legal document that details parameters around how an individual can interact with another named individual. These documents will usually state a distance as a boundary, as well as limits on communication. You may have heard a restraining order referred to as a PFA—or protection from abuse—order. Frequently, a judge will issue a restraining order. However, if the request for a restraining order is outside of the court's operating hours, law enforcement officers may issue it. There are two types of restraining orders that may be issued in Atlantic County, New Jersey: temporary restraining orders and final restraining orders. An attorney can prove invaluable for navigating a restraining order hearing.
Temporary Restraining Order
A temporary restraining order (TRO) sets a deadline on when the restrictions around communication and physical proximity end. It often limits phone calls, text messages, and the like. A sheriff or the police will serve the TRO, and there will be a hearing, usually within 10 days.
Final Restraining Order
A judge may issue a final restraining order (FRO) to replace a TRO at the fact-finding hearing. An FRO permanently replaces the TRO. The restrictions listed in it will not expire but rather must be changed by the courts if the circumstances change.
An Experienced Family Law Attorney Can Help
If you're scheduled to attend a family court hearing, it helps to have an attorney by your side who can use their knowledge and expertise to fight on your behalf. They'll be able to develop strategies and approaches that will strengthen your case and work toward the best possible outcome. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have fought for thousands of clients' rights for years. Attorney Lento does not give up and will continue to passionately advocate for you. Call 888.535.3686 today to speak with Joseph D. Lento for a consultation. You can also contact the Lento Law Firm online with any questions you may have.