Edward R. Weinstein, Esq.

When I first began my career as a divorce and family lawyer in 1996 in my hometown of East Brunswick, New Jersey, I quickly understood that the credibility of my client in the eyes of a judge of the Family Part of the Superior Court of New Jersey was essential. To that end, as we have all watched the technology explosion dramatically change the way we live our day-to-day lives, both attorneys and judges alike now have a flood of hard evidence right there on everyone’s smartphones and the like.

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In fact, a vast majority of evidence entered into family law trials in the state of New Jersey are either text messages or Facebook posts. In a recent case, the mother of a child moved for sole custody alleging the child would be in danger if left alone with the father. However, hard evidence demonstrated that the mother repeatedly text the father, on the very same weekend that she was drafting her ex parte Order to Show Cause, repeatedly asking him to watch their child. Needless to say, this parent’s credibility was shattered and her request for sole custody was denied. Following please find a detailed analysis of this case that is a great example of credibility being king in a courtroom.

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In over 20 years of family law and divorce practice here in my hometown of East Brunswick, New Jersey, I can assure you that we strive to settle our cases. However, it is essential that your lawyer will not “blink” when our adversary states, “we shall have trial.”

Following you shall see how the zealous and diligent attorneys at our law firm prepare for trial. As the old lawyer cliché says, “Preparation is everything.”

TRIAL PREPARATION

No. As seasoned parenting time lawyers, the attorneys at our law firm appreciate that while most New Jersey Family Court judges prefer to grant a parent the right of first refusal, the court’s decision shall always be driven by the best interests of the child. In other words, if one parent cannot be with the child and the other parent is available, then that parent should have the right to spend time with their child before the child went to a third party such as a babysitter or daycare. However, if a New Jersey family Court finds that the child is not best served in such a scenario, the right of first refusal shall be denied. Of significant note, if the child’s parents are constantly fighting, this could cause a judge to limit their interactions. The case below contains similar facts as well as the court’s reasoning for denying the argument of right of first refusal in this instance.

In Ferrer v. Durkin, ex-husband Joseph Durkin appealed from an order of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Family Part of Camden County which was entered after a plenary hearing on December 16, 2015, that denied his request for more parenting time. On appeal, the New Jersey Appellate Division found that Judged Shusted, the Family Part judge, correctly applied the law to the specific circumstances of the case as he found them after hearing testimony, and affirmed the decision of the Family Part of Camden County.

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The ability to serve an individual with a lawsuit on Facebook and other popular social media and social networking services.is quickly becoming a reality under New Jersey law. In a recent case, an adopted ten-year-old child was being harassed by a stranger claiming that they were the child biological father, first via Instagram and then on Facebook. He even used pictures that he obtained from the child’s mother’s Facebook page and posted them on his Facebook page in order to further claim that he is the child’s father. The parents then hired an attorney to obtain a permanent injunction

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The typical manner in which an attorney shall serve a party is via “personal service.” A sheriff’s officer or a process server personally handing the Complaint upon the defendant effectuates service. However, the are other matters, pursuant to New Jersey’s Rules of Court, that allow for regular and certified mail as a proper method of serving a defendant. Finally, as a means of last resort, a lawyer may serve a defendant by was of publication.   Practically speaking this means obtaining permission from a judge to place a notice in the defendant’s local newspaper in order to give them notice that they have been named as a defendant in a lawsuit in New Jersey.

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The lawyers at our law firm here in East Brunswick, New Jersey, handle many child custody disputes. Needless to say, emotions run very high which may result in one parent having to obtain a restraining order against the other while the child custody case is still ongoing. The attorneys at our New Jersey based law firm have had many cases wherein the temporary restraining order was absolutely necessary to protect the victim. However and regretfully, we have also had cases in which a questionable temporary restraining order is obtained by one parent with the underhanded goal of hoping to gain an “upper hand” in the child custody dispute. This blog analyzes how a judge of the Family Part of the Superior Court of New Jersey decides if the restraining order is “credible” or was obtained for the sole purpose of gaining an unfair advantage in the pending child custody case.

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In A.S. v. V.S., the Honorable Judge Jones of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Family Part of Ocean County, addressed the problem of evidentiary issues in a domestic violence case, when a complaint is simultaneously filed in a Family Part court relating to issues of parenting time, child custody, support, divorce, separation, or other related issues. Judge Jones held that under the principle enumerated in Murray v. Murray, when a complaint alleging domestic violence is filed on or near the same time as another family court complaint, the may can appropriately consider the proximity of the filing as relevant to issues of motivation, credibility, bias, and the possibility that the domestic violence complaint was filed in order to gain a legal advantage, in regards to rulings about support, custody or other similar issues. However, in terms of evidence, Murray does not automatically create a presumption that a domestic violence complaint that is filed at the same time of companion family court litigation is not legitimate. Even though it is possible that one party may have filed a domestic violence complaint in an effort to acquire a legal advantage in another litigation, it is just as possible that as a result of family court litigation, the other party committed domestic violence. Furthermore, because of the specific nature of domestic violence, a complaint alleging domestic violence can be substantiated by testimonial evidence by one of the parties, without the need for video proof, or eyewitnesses.

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Well, it depends. The child custody lawyers at our New Jersey based law firm understand that both parents have a fundamental right to have visitation (a/k/a parenting time) with their child. Having said that, the focus of our attorneys and the judges of New Jersey Family Courts is always on the best interest of the child.

With respect to mid-week overnight parenting time, many factors are taken into consideration. These include, but not limited to the child’s education ranging from homework to how far a parent may live from the child’s school. Furthermore, the parent seeking mid-week overnight parenting time must demonstrate that they shall be sure that the child’s study habits shall not be interrupted by the mid-week visitation. The following case is an excellent example of how New Jersey courts closely analyze such matters.

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Over my lengthy career as a divorce attorney with my law firm here in my hometown of East Brunswick, New Jersey, I have had many clients state to me, “my parents made me pay my own way for my college education and today I am a better person for it.” I then have a cumbersome conversation that if they had remained married that they then would have no legal obligation to pay. However, once divorced, it was highly likely that they would have to pay toward their child’s college tuition and costs. My client could only shake their heads in disbelief of this aspect of New Jersey divorce law.

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Since 2014, I have been closely following a case in which a Judge of the Family Part of the Superior Court of New Jersey ordered that divorced parents must pay for their daughter’s college education. This made international news as New Jersey law forced divorced parents to pay for college while an intact family is not legally compelled to do so.

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We’ve all been there and as a divorce lawyer here in New Jersey, I see it all of the time. That moment when you are so enraged and annoyed at what someone else did or said. Compulsively we run to Facebook and vent our frustrations. We want to share with our social media friends and family the horrible thing this person did or said. The problem is that momentary joy that comes from calling the other person to the carpet and airing their dirty laundry can have significant negative impact in your Divorce or Family Court cases. That is why it is so important to think before you post.

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It is worth repeating. Think before you post. Once something is put in social media world, it is difficult to take it back.

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Today’s blog was written by the latest and greatest addition to our law firm, Associate Attorney, Ali Sutak, Esq.  

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You’ve made it to the finish line. After months, or perhaps even years of settlement talks and court dates, finally, your long-awaited final divorce uncontested hearing date has arrived. The i’s have been dotted and the t’s have been crossed on your Matrimonial Settlement Agreement. You go into the courtroom, answer some questions, and the judge gives you a Judgment of Divorce. After all this time, it seems like it’s over in the blink of an eye. You can’t wait to go home and start your new life. Now that you’re done, the last thing that you want to do is think about your divorce and anything related to it. And you certainly don’t want to look through that agreement again for a long, long time.

But you should.

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Approximately fourteen years of age. Under New Jersey’s custody of child statute, one of many factors that a judge of the Family Part of the Superior Court of New Jersey shall consider is the child’s preference. However, the court must take into consideration the child’s age and maturity level. The lawyers at our law firm typically advise our clients that, as a rule of thumb, a child needs to be at least fourteen years old for their preference to be taken into consideration. Of course, the court has wide discretion when deciding whether to have an in camera interview of the child. If the judge decides not to interview a child, they must state their reasoning on the record for not doing so. This allows both the parents and their respective attorneys to understand why the decision was made and whether in case an appeal of the decision is on the horizon.

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Many facts can be derived when a judge interviews a child, ranging from their day to day lives when in the custody of each parent, respectively, to major decisions such as a client’s desire to be relocated from the state of New Jersey with one parent. When conducting such an interview of the child, the judge keeps a careful eye on their competency and emotional development when framing their questions. There is also always a witness present during the interview. The judge also is an expert at keeping the interview relaxed and non-formal. This not only prevents the event from being traumatic for the child but also will allow the child to relax so the judge can extract the relevant facts required in order to make their decision. Moreover, as a matter of public policy of always protecting the best interests of a child, a judge does not necessarily ask the child, point blank, whom they would rather live with. Instead, the judge frames their questions in a manner that extracts crucial facts. Nevertheless, from the child’s point of view they feel that they merely having a friendly chat. The following cases further explain this essential area of New Jersey child custody law.

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