Cumberland County is located in the southern reaches of New Jersey. The county is populated by over 150,000 residents and contains both rural and urban areas within its borders. Serving this populace in all matters pertaining to the law is the Cumberland County Superior Court, located in Bridgeton, NJ. Family Law issues, including custody, will be handled in the court's Family Division.
Custody In Cumberland County
Before the custody process can even begin, there is one step that must take place to determine what state will hold jurisdiction. Cumberland County is in close proximity to both Delaware and Pennsylvania. Because of this, it is common for families to be split between these states, which can make beginning custody proceedings complex, as these states all have separate custody laws. To simplify these situations, New Jersey has adopted the Uniform Child Custody Act (UCCA) which grants jurisdiction of custody matters to whatever state is determined to be the child's "home state." A home state is typically the state where a child has resided longer, or the state where the child held primary residence. If a custody case is to take place in Cumberland County, the process will be governed by New Jersey's laws.
In Cumberland County, when a custody case begins, there is a brief but mandatory period of mediation between the two parties to attempt to settle the matter. Mediation provides a discussion-based environment where both sides can express their concerns and try to reach an agreement for custody that is fair and reasonably convenient for both parties. If the matter cannot be resolved at this stage, then it will proceed to a hearing with a judge. At a hearing, based upon the evidence and testimony presented, a judge will make a ruling in favor of what is deemed to be in "the best interest of the child." While each state rules on this differently, in Cumberland County and the rest of New Jersey, the court puts the physical safety and well-being of the child at the forefront of their decisions. Factors such as the child's age, relationships with parents, and access to education also play a role but are not weighted as heavily. One particularly strong factor will be any prior incidents or threats of domestic violence, as this directly pertains to the safety of the child.
When beginning a custody battle, it is incredibly beneficial to enlist the services of an attorney. Even during the initial stage of mediation, an attorney can make all the difference between an agreement that caters to both parents needs, and an agreement that only favors one parent. Although custody agreements can be changed later on, it is much simpler, to begin with a favorable agreement to begin with. An attorney involved from the beginning can help ensure that you are aware of all possible outcomes, and if custody is not able to be resolved agreeably, help you know what steps you can take towards success in the courtroom.
Contact a Cumberland County Attorney Today
If you or a loved one is engaged in a custody battle in Cumberland County, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.