Mercer County, NJ is located at the very heart of the state. Within Mercer County is Trenton, the state capital of New Jersey, and the acclaimed Ivy League learning institution, Princeton University. Mercer county has over 370,000 residents within its bounds. The court overseeing legal matters in the county is the Mercer County Superior Court. All matters of law are handled in the court, which is located in Trenton, NJ. Matters of Family Law, including custody, are handled in Mercer County court's Family Division.
Custody Proceedings In Mercer County
If a custody battle is to take place, the first step must be to determine what state holds jurisdiction. Mercer county's proximity to Pennsylvania commonly creates a situation where a child's parents are split across the two states. This could create a complex situation; however, New Jersey has adopted the Uniform Child Custody Act (UCCA) to ensure that the process can be simple. Basically, the custody battle will occur in the jurisdiction of whatever state is considered the child's "home state." Typically, a home state is where a child has resided primarily or for a longer amount of time. Once Mercer County is established as the county holding jurisdiction over the custody matter, the proceedings can begin according to New Jersey's laws.
Mercer County's custody process follows a general procedure that is in line with New Jersey's laws. When a custody matter starts, it is normally directed to a mediation phase to see if the matter can be settled at this stage. If the matter continues, it will move forward to a trial, where a judge will make the final ruling. When making a decision, judges use the standard of "what is best for the child." This standard carries different definitions based on location and state. For Mercer County, along with most of New Jersey, the factor weighted heaviest when making a decision will be the physical health and safety of a child. Other factors can include the bond with the parents, interactions with siblings, access to education, and more. One highly considered factor is any history of domestic violence, or any potential to expose the child to abusive acts, as these things directly relate to the child's physical well-being.
When a custody battle begins, the best thing you can do to protect your child's and your own interests in the matter is to retain the services of an attorney. A skilled and experienced Family Law attorney can mean the difference between primary custody, and only seeing your child a few nights a week. Even at the mediation stage, an attorney can help provide courtroom insight, as well as prepare you for obstacles and what potential outcomes may be from the proceeding. The earlier on an attorney is involved, the better perspective they will have on your situation, and the better prepared you will be if your case makes it to the courtroom.
Contact a Mercer County Attorney Today
If you or a loved one is currently involved in a custody battle in Mercer County, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.