Ocean County, New Jersey is home to several of New Jersey's shore points. The county itself has a population of over 500,000 residents and increases seasonally. All legal matters of the county are handled by the Ocean County Superior Court, which is located in Tom's River, NJ. The court handles matters related to Family Law in its Family Division. This includes matters related to child custody as well.
Child Custody In Ocean County
While some parents may gear up for a custody battle, the first step of a custody proceeding actually takes place before the battle can really even begin. Because of Ocean County's proximity to Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New York, it can be particularly common for families to be split across these states. When this happens, New Jersey allows for a simplifying process through the Uniform Child Custody Act (UCCA). This Act allows for one state to take jurisdiction over another to prevent custody laws from conflicting with one another. The deciding factor will be whatever state can be considered a child's "home state." A "home state" is considered to be the state where a child has spent the most time, or where a prior custody agreement sets the child's primary residence. If Ocean County holds jurisdiction over the case, the custody process will move forward according to New Jersey's legal guidelines.
When a family wishes to negotiate matters of custody, the court mandates the first step being mediation. The goal of mediation is to provide both parents with a space to air their opinions, grievances, and ideas pertaining to the custody of the child, and also allow both sides to reach an agreement. This can thin the court's caseload, and can also allow potentially better solutions than those left up to the court. If a case cannot be resolved through mediation, it will move forward to a hearing with a judge. In Ocean County, judges will always rule custody cases in favor of what is in the"best interests" of the child. This is interpreted differently by state, and sometimes by county. For Ocean County and the rest of New Jersey, the most prominent factor in what is deemed best for the child is the child's physical safety. Some other factors will be considered, including the child's preference, age, and relationships with the parents, but the most important factor is their physical well-being. Particularly, prior incidents of domestic violence will be weighted heavily against a parent, as this is a huge concern for physical safety.
Having an attorney at your side through a custody battle can make a difference between a favorable agreement and an unfair agreement. In courtrooms, decisions are made based on evidence and testimony, and an attorney can help you present what the court needs to hear. Even during the mediation stages, an attorney can help you secure your interests and make sure you are prepared for every possible outcome.
Contact an Ocean County Attorney Today
If you or a loved one is involved in a custody battle in Ocean County, NJ, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.