Generally, FD dockets may be filed by parties with children in a domestic relationship or those that are marred but have not yet filed a FM or matrimonial matter for a divorce. Through the FD docket decisions regarding child support and even child custody and parenting time may be made. Generally, one part files a complaint and the other party is served. Thereafter, there is likely a hearing in front of a hearing officer, not a Judge, who is hired by the county to have such hearings, to deal with for instance child support. Child support will be calculated based on guidelines and the information presented at the hearing that was previously requested regarding income of the parties.
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There are times when a best interest evaluation is necessary regarding the parties custody and parenting time and the children at issue. When the parties cannot agree on custody and parenting time, an expert, generally a psychologist is retained to interview both parties and the children to determine whether or not custody should be primarily with one parent or the other and what type of parenting time the other party should receive with the children. Generally, the expert will interview the parties and the children to render an opinion in a report that the court may rely on to determine what is in the best interests of the children.
The battle of child custody can be one of the most difficult issues in divorce. If the parties cannot agree upon terms of custody up front, they may have no choice but to litigate the issue with motion practice, child custody experts and a trial as to the issue.
There are two types of custody, legal and physical. Generally, legal custody will be shared by the parties, so both parties will have an equal say over the health, education and welfare of the child. However, if one party is deemed to be incompetent as a parent or must have supervised visitation with the child legal custody may not rest with that parent. Often these situations arise because the parent is a drug or alcholol problem or has a history of mental illness or other behavior that is inappropriate.
Child custody is generally categorized in two ways, legal custody and physical custody. Generally, both parents have shared legal custody, meaning an equal say over the health, education and welfare of the children, unless one of the parties is incompetent for example has a drug or alcohol abuse problem. As to physical custody, the parties may have sole, shared or where one party is the parent of primary residence and the other party is the parent of alternate residence or secondary residence. Generally, if the parties have equal overnights or time with the children, they have shared physical custody. One party is generally the parent of primary residence if they have more overnights than the other party. If you have questions regarding child custody in a divorce matter, please call Green & Associates at 732-390-0480 in our East Brunswick office or 201-242-1119 in our Fort Lee office for a free consultation. Night appointments are available.
If you are seeking to relocate with your child out of the State or if the parent of primary residence is seeking to relocate, you may be facing the filing of a motion for relocation. In New Jersey, both parents of a child must consent to the relocation or a Court must order the relocation in order for a child to be relocated outside the State of New Jersey.
Upon the filing of a motion for relocation, the Court will consider the status quo of the parties as to custody and parenting time and who is the parent of primary residence.
If a parent is the parent of primary residence, they will have to show good cause for the relocation, which may include a position of employment or family located in the area of relocation. A Court may consider ordering a plenary hearing, a trial where evidence is submitted and testimony is taken, to determine whether or not to allow the relocation.