Burlington County is the largest county in the State of New Jersey. The county itself contains both densely populated municipalities and rural townships. There are over 450,000 residents calling Burlington County home. The highest court in the county is the Burlington County Superior Court, where all matters of law are handled, including family law. The Family Division of the court handles all matters of family law for residents of the county, including child custody.
Child Custody In Burlington County
Burlington County shares a direct border with Pennsylvania and is in close proximity to one of Pennsylvania's most populous cities, Philadelphia. Because of this, many times a custody battle can occur over state lines, complicating the already complex laws surrounding how child custody must be determined. This is remedied through the Uniform Child Custody Act (UCCA) which simplifies how to settle what jurisdiction a custody battle falls under when parents are separated across state lines. Simply put, under UCCA, a child's "home state" will hold jurisdiction over custody matters. A "home state" is generally considered to be where a child has lived longest, or where the most recent custody order has determined to be the private residence. If Burlington County is holding jurisdiction over the case, the case will proceed according to New Jersey's guidelines.
The process for custody in Burlington County typically begins with a brief mediation phase. The purpose of this phase is to thin the case load for the courts and to try to get the parents to amicably agree on a custody agreement that serves both of them and their respective needs accordingly, while also ensuring that the child is not put under a heavy strain. If mediation fails, however, the matter will then be directed to a trial with a judge overseeing. A judge will always rule in favor of what is in the "best interest of the child." This standard differs depending on location. For Burlington County, the "best interest of the child" weighs heavily upon ensuring that the child will have physical safety. Some other factors that are weighed in include the child's access to education, the child's age, the bond between parent and child, and specific attention to domestic violence. Because domestic violence typically endangers a child's physical well-being by its very nature, it will be weighed particularly heavily by the court.
When a custody battle begins, it is of utmost importance to retain the services of an attorney. Not only can an attorney provide a parent with information and guidelines on how to proceed, an attorney can offer courtroom insight and preparation for all possible outcomes of a case. Even at the mediation stage, advice and counsel from an attorney can provide a parent with the necessary edge to gain the upper hand in negotiations. Parents only want what is best for their children, and a custody battle can cause tension between them when they really just want to see their child succeed. The presence and counsel of a skilled and experienced family law attorney can ease these troubles.
Contact a Burlington County Attorney Today
If you or a loved one is currently involved in a custody battle, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.