When I am presented with a New Jersey child custody case with two sound parents, I do my best to help the parties come to an agreement as to how they shall co-parent their children. I often tell my clients, “it is better for you and the other parent to work things out than to have a stranger in a black robe tell you when you may see your children.” If the parents come to an agreement, I review the settlement closely. However, unless I see something that is not in the best interest of the children, or something that is detrimental to my client, I do not “upset the apple cart.” If two parents can agree, I applaud their ability to put their hurt feelings for one another in order to protect the kids from being involved in NJ child custody litigation.
Nevertheless, I have handled many cases over the years when custody is in dispute and I do so in a vigorous manner. Following are some helpful tips for those parents who face a custody battle. First, it is not a violation of New Jersey’s Wiretap Statute for a parent to record a child’s conversation with the other parent. Of course, this party must be able to demonstrate a reasonable reason for doing so and that same is in the best interest of the child. Cacciarelli v. Boniface.
Second, a parent’s right to the care and companionship with his or her children is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States. Therefore, even if you consider the other parent to be unfit, you still have a heavy burden in the Superior Court of New Jersey before all contact between that parent and your child will be terminated. Please adjust your expectations accordingly.
Third, if one parent seeks to relocate the children from the state of New Jersey, the “non-custodial” parent may request that a NJ child custody expert be appointed to provide the Court with a report containing their opinion as to whether such a move is in the best interest of the children. Shea v. Shea.
Most custody battles involve child custody experts. In a recent case, it was decided that one party cannot compel the release of all interviews conducted by all experts in a child custody case. While a party has the right to record his or her interviews with the child custody expert, they do not have the right to force the other parent’s child custody expert to record their interviews with the other party or the children. This is to protect the children from retribution by one or both of the parents if the child makes statements that the parent may not like. However, under a Protective Order, a Judge may order that the recordings be accessible to the lawyers, the parties and all experts involved in the case with the understanding that all parties are prohibited from revealing the contents to the children or any third parties.
If you or someone you love is facing a potential child custody battle in New Jersey, please refer to my web site for more information. Of course, if you have any questions, please do not ever hesitate to call me at my office to discuss your case.