Having to make a court appearance can be stressful and overwhelming, no matter the reason for the appearance. However, when you have to attend a hearing due to a matter for your family, which is important above all, it can feel even worse. Family court hearings deal with a variety of legal areas that concern families, including child support, child custody, protection from abuse (PFA) orders, domestic violence, and restraining orders. Because these are high-stakes hearings, you shouldn't face them alone.
An expert attorney can look at your situation and plan out effective strategies to navigate the complexity that comes with the legal system. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have many years of experience helping families face family court issues. Now, they dedicate most of their time to child custody determinations and restraining orders. They're passionate about supporting clients and alleviating their stress during such a challenging time
Child Custody in New Jersey
Nobody begins a marriage or a partnership planning to break up. Unfortunately, though, parents do sometimes separate. In these instances, the first step is generally mediation; however, if parents cannot come to an agreement, it will go to the courts. The Ocean County courts will then make a determination as to what is in the best interest of the child.
What does that phrase actually mean? It means that the judge will explore a number of factors in order to determine what is best for the child mentally, physically, emotionally, and so forth. Subsequently, it's critical that you build a strong case for what you believe is best for your son or daughter. In New Jersey, there is no preference given to mothers or fathers: both parents have equal standing in the eyes of the law.
A child custody lawyer can help you identify your needs and what options are available, regardless of how complex the child custody issues are. They should be able to use their diplomacy skills to help you navigate creating a custody and parenting time plan.
What Factors Does a Judge in Ocean County Look At?
A judge may base their determination about child custody on a number of different factors. They'll often ask questions to uncover more information around areas such as family dynamics, work and school schedules, health concerns, and education needs. Some of the more specific factors might include the following:
- The child's needs;
- Stability in the home environment;
- How close the two homes are geographically;
- Whether or not there is a history of domestic violence or abuse;
- If the child has a preference (if they're old enough and able to form an educated and unbiased opinion)
This list is not exhaustive, but it's a good place to begin when you're considering what a judge will take into account.
What are the Different Types of Child Custody?
In Ocean County, and all of New Jersey, courts consider two different types of child custody when they are crafting agreements. The first, physical custody, decides where the child will live and spend most of their time. Sometimes this is also called residential custody. The second type of child custody is legal custody, and that is for any matters that concern the child's wellbeing. This type of custody includes areas that are medical or educational in nature. The actual custody agreement can take a variety of forms and is usually very specific to each individual circumstance.
Restraining Orders in Ocean County, NJ
Restraining orders are legal documents that are protective and preventative in nature. They're designed to offer protection to an alleged victim of domestic violence or abuse and usually delineate specific guidelines around communication and physical proximity. There are two main types of restraining orders: temporary restraining orders (TROs) and final restraining orders (FROs). Restraining orders can impact custody agreements if determinations are already underway. Both have serious consequences, but what's the difference between the two of them? Let's take a look.
Temporary Restraining Order
A TRO is usually issued either by a judge in the Family Division of the Ocean County Court or by a law enforcement official. It depends on when the request occurs: is it during business hours or not? TROs have a built-in expiration and hearing date.
Final Restraining Order
A judge issues an FRO—if they deem it necessary—to replace a TRO. It's a permanent solution that requires the named individual to not interact with the other person. FROs have more severe consequences. The police will photograph the individual and enter them into a state-wide database. Additionally, their ability to own firearms may be limited.
Where Should you Go for Your Family Court Hearing?
Family court hearings are heard by the Family Division. When it's time for you to attend the hearing for your family court matter in Ocean County, the best approach is to verify the name and address of the courthouse. You can find it, as well as the time, on the summons or hearing notice you received. It's critical that you plan ahead and allow enough time for traffic and finding a parking spot. If you run into an unexpected accident, you might arrive feeling rushed—and that's no way to head into a high-stakes hearing.
Family court hearings in Ocean County take place at the Ocean County Courthouse, located at 118 Washington St., Toms River, NJ 08754
Arriving early allows time for you to use the restroom, have a drink of water, and meet with your attorney before the hearing.
An Experienced Family Law Attorney Can Help
Although you may feel overwhelmed by the thought of fighting for your rights, you don't have to walk this challenging journey alone. A skilled family law attorney will be able to use their knowledge and expertise to ensure that you receive the best possible outcome given your circumstances. You want someone talented who is dedicated to working on your behalf.
The Lento Law Firm and attorney Joseph D. Lento have helped thousands of clients throughout the years as they faced similar difficulties. They are passionate about standing by their clients' side and don't give up easily. If you need a restraining order, just received one, or need help with a child custody arrangement, call the Lento Law Firm today at 888.535.3686 or contact them online to schedule a consultation.