Salem County is home to over 60,000 residents. The county rests between Gloucester and Cumberland counties and has a bridge that links the state of New Jersey to the state of Delaware. Overseeing all matters of law in the county is Salem County Superior Court, located in Salem, NJ. Matters pertaining to Family Law, including child custody, are resolved within Salem County Superior Court's Family Division.
Custody In Salem County
When going through a custody battle, one of the first things that needs to be settled before a case can even really begin is the determination of what state holds jurisdiction. Due to Salem County's proximity to both Delaware and Pennsylvania, it is very possible that a family could be split across more than one state. In an effort to simplify these matters, New Jersey has adopted the Uniform Child Custody Act (UCCA). Under this law, any custody proceedings will be held within whatever state is deemed to be the child's "home state." A home state is typically the state where a child has primary residence from a standing custody agreement, or where a child has lived for a greater period of time. Once it is determined that Salem County will be the county where a custody matter will take place, the process will move forward according to New Jersey state law.
In Salem county, custody matters will be settled through a multi-stage process. The first stage for all child custody cases is a period of mediation. The purpose of mediation is to attempt to resolve the custody matter before it reaches the courtroom, while also providing an environment for parents to resolve their situation amicably. If a child custody matter cannot be settled through mediation, then the case will have to be heard by a judge. Judges in Salem County Superior Court's Family Division will always rule in favor of what is deemed to be "in the best interest of the child." While a child's "best interest" is determined by a number of different factors, Salem County weighs the child's physical safety and well-being higher than most other factors. Because the court takes the physical safety of the child in mind above other factors, prior instances or threats of domestic violence will be treated more seriously than other factors as these issues directly pertain to physical safety. Other factors that will be considered include the child's age, the relationship with the parents, the terms of any prior custody agreements, and more.
When undergoing any custody battle, it is important to retain the services of an experienced family law attorney. Even during the mediation stage, the counsel of an attorney can make all the difference between a favorable agreement and one that feels unfair. An attorney will be able to educate you on potential outcomes, and can argue your case in court. You only want what is best for your family, and an attorney can help secure that.
Contact a Salem County Attorney Today
If you or a loved one is involved in custody proceedings in Salem County, NJ, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.