Attending family court can be an overwhelming experience for anyone. You never know what to expect if you haven't been yet. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has spent years helping his clients traverse the rocky terrain that is sometimes family court by developing legal methods that allow the court to determine the best possible outcome. If you plan to attend the Sussex Family Division, whether it is to fight for grandparent visitation rights, prepare for a restraining order hearing, or determine child custody arrangements, Lento Law Firm can and wants to help.
Sussex County Family Court
In Sussex County, the family court is called the Sussex Family Practice Division and supervises hearings on a myriad of family law topics, such as divorce, child support, paternity, custody, parent time, domestic violence, juvenile delinquency, family crisis, foster care placement, kinship legal guardianship, abuse and neglect, termination of parental rights, and adoption. At Lento Law Firm, Attorney Lento focuses on child custody determinations and restraining order hearings, though he oversees several other aspects of family law.
When children are born to parents, whether they are married or not, the hope is that the parents will agree on the custody of the child. If they seek a court ruling on the agreement they've made, or they are looking for a legal dissolution (divorce) of their marriage that these children were born into, the court will review the agreed-upon custody agreement and order it to be so. But because there are so many emotions involved in child custody and divorce proceedings, this is generally not the case. Most parents are unable to reach such an agreement or stick to it without court intervention. In Sussex County, both parents have the same amount of right to the custody of their child – thus, one parent can not assert their right to full custody without a court intervening. The court will determine what is in the best interest of the child by reviewing several factors. These factors include, but are in no way limited to:
- The ability of the parents to agree upon, discuss and cooperate on matters that involve the child;
- If there is a history of domestic violence;
- The child's needs;
- The preference of the child, if they are old enough (whether a child is old enough depends on their level of maturity, natural age; it is subjective and entirely up to the discretion of the judge)
- The stability of the home environment;
- The quality of the child's education;
- The parent's fitness – parents aren't generally thought to be unfit unless a court finds that their conduct has a substantial adverse effect on the child; and
- The extent and quality of the time the parents spent with the child before and after their separation.
Once the court determines what is in the child's best interest, it will then look at what custody agreement style will work best within the family dynamic and best interest of the child. New Jersey Law describes two types of child custody – physical and legal. Physical custody determines where the child will reside, whereas legal custody gives the parent the legal authority to make or influence decisions regarding their child's health, education, and welfare.
Additionally, the court will continue to develop the child custody agreement so that it is unique to your family and might:
- Award sole custody to one parent, while the other gets visitation,
- Grant joint legal custody to both parents – they will both make decisions on the child's health, education, and welfare – but give sole physical custody to one parent and visitation to the other,
- Give both parents joint legal and joint physical custody with both parents having equal visitation, or
- The court could combine any of this in whatever order it wishes, depending on what is in the child's best interest.
A knowledgeable attorney will help you identify what kind of custody agreement you are comfortable with and then create a legal strategy to explain to the judge what you think is in your child's best interest.
In Sussex County, New Jersey, there are two types of restraining orders – temporary and final. Which one you are served with will depend on which part of the restraining order hearing process you are currently in.
Temporary Restraining Orders
Temporary restraining orders (TRO) are a short-term attempt to separate an alleged domestic violence victim from their aggressor. When a domestic violence victim reports the incident, the police will give them an opportunity to request a TRO and will then deliver the TRO to the defendant. The TRO is temporary, meaning there is usually an expiration date listed on the document that coincides with the restraining order hearing, where a judge will determine the next steps.
Final Restraining Orders
A FRO, or final restraining order, on the other hand, is usually permanent. The point of a FRO is to keep the alleged victim separate for a more extended period of time if the court determines that the FRO can inhibit further acts of domestic violence. A judge will only find that a FRO is necessary if the parties were in a domestic relationship, and the defendant committed a predicate act of domestic violence.
Restraining orders can have widespread and long-lasting effects. For instance, restraining orders can restrict what areas of the world you can visit if the alleged victim is present. They can also displace the defendant from their current living arrangements, interrupt their work schedule, prevent them from getting a promotion, and affect their child custody or support agreements. If a judge determines that a restraining order is necessary, the defendant will be photographed, fingerprinted, placed into a database, and owe court fees.
Family Court in Sussex – MAP
The Sussex Family Practice Division is located at 43-47 High Street, Newton, NJ 07860. Make sure you review the notice for the proceedings so you can arrive early, find parking, and review with your attorney beforehand.
How an Experienced Family Law Attorney Can Help
At the Lento Law Firm, attorney Joseph D. Lento will work diligently to ensure the court upholds your rights. Having an experienced family law attorney specializing in child custody and restraining order proceedings can help make this overwhelming experience better. The Lento Law Firm will protect your interests and develop a plan that will increase your chances of coming out of court with the outcome you hoped for. Call 888.535.3686 today to schedule a consultation. Attorney Joseph D. Lento can help - let him.