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By finally coming to a custody agreement, you’ve walked a delicate tightrope to balance the schedules and needs of everyone in your family. Perhaps you needed a court to intervene in your contentious relationship and settle everything. However, when circumstances change and something isn’t working, you might find yourself needing to change your parenting time arrangements.

If you cannot follow the established custody schedule, do not disrupt or ignore it as you please. Doing so would affect your standing with the NJ family court, who will not smile upon you for interfering with the plan. You and your spouse can consent to modifications together, tackling conflicts yourselves. However, lacking a court order, this kind of informal change would not be enforceable in the future.

Justifying changes to a parenting plan takes more steps if you’re relying on family courts to modify your child custody arrangements. You’ll need to file motions, return to court, and undergo additional hearings and evaluations. You must be able to prove that the best interests of the child have shifted in response to changing circumstances in your life or family dynamic.

Wondering what is a substantial and material change of circumstances? NJ family courts recognize several valid examples that could negatively affect your child:

  • Accusations of abuse
  • Child articulating reasonable change in preference contrary to existing parenting plans
  • Child entering school age
  • Custodial parent moving in with a new paramour or roommate
  • Grades dropping or failing attendance at school
  • Intoxication of the custodial parent
  • One parent fails to adhere to existing parenting time order
  • Relocation resulting in too much time and resources spent traveling between homes
Call us at 1-855-9-JEFLAW any time to discuss your case

Let us request a modification to your child custody order. The timelines and procedures of a custody court confuse parents regularly. Our experienced team of family law attorneys at the Law Office of Jef Henninger, Esq. provide fast, invaluable guidance for families. Give us a call any time at 1-855-9-JEFLAW to discuss how we can help your family win.

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New Jersey parenting plans are designed to make life easier for the children involved. Child custody can be established by a judge if parents can’t agree, but it is always best if parents work together on the details. When parents agree on a child custody calendar, New Jersey family courts will honor their parenting plan unless it is not in the child’s best interest.

NJ S.A. 9:2-4(c) explains that courts have to consider several factors when deciding custody of a child in New Jersey, including (but not limited to):

  • Amount of quality time parents spent with child(ren) before and since separating
  • Continuity of quality education for the child(ren)
  • History of violence, danger, or conduct either affecting the safety of the child(ren) or parents, or having some other substantially detrimental effect
  • Number of children and their ages, preferences, needs, and best interests
  • Parents’ fitness, ability to coparent, and willingness to accept and allow custody
  • Parent’s work responsibilities
  • Relationships and interactions between parents, child(ren), and other family
  • Stability and locations of parents’ homes

Failure to adhere to child custody arrangements that you’ve agreed to can have serious repercussions for you in family court. Interfering with your ex’s parenting time accidentally or on purpose might lead a judge to reward you with sanctions and limited custody, or by holding you in contempt. Once in place, the family court generally won’t disturb a custody agreement unless a parent files a motion and provides clear proof of some substantial and material change of circumstances.

Call us at (855) 9-JEFLAW any time to discuss your case

You need an experienced child custody attorney working with you from the beginning if you are going through a divorce, or struggling to figure out how to get custody of a child in New Jersey. Contact our efficient and intelligent family lawyers at the Law Offices of Jef Henninger by calling 1-855-9-JEFLAW. We are not pro bono child custody lawyers, but we’re available for you at any time, day or night, for a free initial consultation.

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If a previous custody resolution process like an assessment or mediation yields no solution, the court may order a full child custody evaluation at the parents’ expense. Parents may agree to a single evaluator or each retain their own separately, and the court may also order a neutral evaluator.

It is important to your family’s happiness that you succeed in navigating custody with your child’s other parent.

Depending on the severity of the accusations against a parent, the level of acrimony between parents, and other factors, the truth can be difficult to see. If at any time the child’s safety or the parents’ truthfulness are in doubt, the court may appoint a specialized guardian to your child.

  • Law guardian: A barred NJ attorney, assigned by the court to directly represent, express the wishes, and protect the interests of a child exposed to abuse, neglect, or terminating parental rights. This is usually done in child and neglect cases such as those brought by DCPP.
  • Guardian ad litem (GAL): Investigates custody and visitation, and makes recommendations to the judge and the court that represent the child’s best interests. Appointed either by a parent’s request or a motion of the court in cases contesting custody, visitation, or parenting time. Unlike law guardians, GALs don’t directly represent the child, but serve the court.

Child custody evaluators are professional mental health experts like specialized psychiatrists, trained and qualified social workers, or psychologists who provide medical recommendations based on testing and interviews. Evaluators must conduct unbiased evaluations in the child’s best interest, and each has a slightly different methodology to evaluate custody eligibility or to determine an unfit parent.

When deciding custody, NJ family courts rely heavily on evaluator reports, made up of:

  • Up to three interviews with each parent and child
  • Observations of parent/child interactions
  • Interviews and/or statements from professionals/experts who interact with children
What is included in a NJ child custody evaluator report?
  • Relevant facts and family history
  • Custody arrangement recommendations
  • Suggested custody arrangement and parenting time schedule
Call us at 1-855-9-JEFLAW any time to discuss your case

If you are facing a custody evaluation, consider hiring a family law attorney. Fighting a custody battle is exhausting, but losing one is worse. Learn the most effective tactics to counteract a poor custody evaluation by working with the dedicated firm of lawyers at the Law Offices of Jef Henninger, Esq. Call us any time at 1-855-9-JEFLAW and we’ll take on your legal foes.

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New Jersey Child Custody Dispute Resolution Process

A child custody dispute that parents or other interested family members cannot resolve land in front of a New Jersey family court judge, and may be sent to a custody and parenting time mediation program. In this resolution process, an impartial third party mediates the parents’ custody and parenting time disagreements, giving them the opportunity to develop a plan together.

We know the ins and outs of the courtroom.

When custody remains unsolved through a mutual parental agreement that prioritizes the child’s needs, the court may order an assessment or evaluation, which can be expensive. Before evaluations, assessments, hearings, or trials begin, secure a New Jersey family court lawyer. An aggressive lawyer can map out the proper battle plan to win the case. Walking in cold to see what happens without a lawyer later is not wise.

In an assessment or evaluation, an independent mental health expert or neutral parenting coordinator conducts a thorough reckoning of the needs of the children, and each parent’s ability to meet those needs.

  • Custody Neutral Assessment (CNA): identifies the issues preventing parents from agreeing to custodial terms. Encourages actions that could relieve pressures or address stressors causing disputes instead of producing a custody recommendation. Usually performed by a qualified social worker or psychologist.
  • Visitation Risk Assessment: looks for objective evidence of psychological problems or behavior patterns that could lead to inappropriate, harmful, or dangerous interactions between parent and child. Determines if evidence sufficiently justifies recommending supervised visitation.
  • Safety and Risk Assessment: determines the likelihood that a child will be mistreated in the immediate future by observing threats to the child’s safety in the family situation. Allegations of an unsafe environment and parental alienation commonly appear in these cases.
Preparing for a custody assessment, evaluation, hearing, or trial
  1. Arrive early and dress neatly
  2. Be open and answer honestly
  3. Speak clearly and directly
  4. Listen carefully and understand the questions before speaking
  5. Relax and be yourself
Call us at 1-855-9-JEFLAW any time to discuss your case

The law is complicated, and usually even the most experienced lawyers rely on another attorney to represent them. At the Law Offices of Jef Henninger, our team of family law pros know the ins and outs of the New Jersey legal system, so they can help keep your case together while avoiding common pitfalls. We’re after the best solutions for you and your family, so call us today at 1-855-9-JEFLAW. Begin with a free consultation, and we can guide you through a successful custody hearing or trial.

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Custody and visitation share much in common, but have many differences. Parental rights distinguish someone with visitation from someone with custody, and the two terms cannot be interchanged. Don’t be confused by the overlapping legal definitions or individual types.

Protect the bond between you and your child.

On its own, the right to visitation does not include the right to make virtually any decisions, unless cleared with the custodial parent or affirmed by the family court. Even the place where the visit occurs can depend on the other parent or the court to confirm.

The definition of legal custody gives a parent the authority to make decisions that pertain to the child. Physical custody means the parent and the child live together. Joint custody means the parents both enjoy some percentage of physical or legal custody rights and responsibilities, and we define sole custody as a parent with the power to make all decisions unilaterally.

Thus, visitation and custody differ in several major ways. Child visitation, also called parenting time, describes the amount of time a parent spends with a child. A visitation schedule will outline the days, times, and frequency with which a parent will be physically present or direct contact with the child. Normally, a visit lasts much shorter than a period of custody.

Visitation covers any time the child spends with the noncustodial parent. It can occur during the day or overnight, at the home of either parent, and either alone or supervised. A parenting plan where one parent has sole custody—and even joint custody arrangements—can allow for visitation, but not necessarily. Sometimes, even joint custody arrangements make allowances for visitation. NJ family judges also may award visitation rights to family members or other people close to the child. Any successful visitation schedule depends on both parents understanding the subtle nuances of their parenting plan, calendars, and family dynamic.

Call us at 1-855-9-JEFLAW any time to discuss your case

The brilliant team of child visitation lawyers at the Law Offices of Jef Henninger, Esq. will fight for your family. We dominate NJ family courtrooms, and we can defeat any threats to your custody, visitation, or parenting time arrangements. Looking for the toughest custody and visitation attorneys in the Garden State? Call us at 1-855-9-JEFLAW now for a free consultation.

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Resources for Families Free Legal Forms Healthy Children Case Law: Cases and Codes Nurse/Family Partnership American Academy of Pediatrics National Alliance on Mental Illness American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists

When parents separate, families find help at the Law Offices of Jef Henninger, Esq.

New Jersey Resources for Families NJ Department of Children and Families

(855) INFO-DCF
Children’s System of Care (formerly Child Behavioral Health Services): (877) 652-7624

New Jersey Coalition to End Domestic Violence

1670 Whitehorse-Hamilton Square Road
Trenton, NJ
(609) 584-8107
Hotline: (800) 572-SAFE

NJ Child Support

(877) NJKIDS-1

Autism New Jersey

(800) 4-AUTISM

New Jersey Safe Haven Infant Protection

(877) 839-2339
(609) 888-7915

NJCASA (Coalition Against Sexual Assault)

Hotline: (800) 601-7200

NJ Child Assault Prevention Project

Child Abuse Hotline: (877) 652-2873

NJ 2-1-1

Dial 211

2nd Floor

(888) 222-2228

New Jersey Mental Health Cares

(866) 202-4357

NJ Family Care

(800) 701-0710

New Jersey Courts

(609) 815-2900

New Jersey Legislature

(609) 847-3905
(800) 792-8630

New Jersey Youth Resource Spot

(609) 888-7100

New Jersey Low Income Energy Assistance

(800) 510-3102

Women’s Referral Central Hotline

(800) 322-8092

New Jersey Electronic Child Care Provider Web Portal NJHelps NJ Parent Link New Jersey Law NJ Medicaid Information Resources for New Jersey Families by County Atlantic County Resources for Families Atlantic County Civil Courthouse

Family Division, Direct Filing
1201 Bacharach Boulevard, West Wing
Atlantic City NJ 0840
(609) 345-6700

Atlantic County Family Division Manager

(609) 594-3446
Assistant Family Division Manager: (609) 594-3451

Atlantic County Department of Family and Community Development

County Office Building
Atlantic City Department of Social Services
1333 Atlantic Avenue, 3rd Floor
Box 869
Atlantic City NJ 08401
(609) 348-3001

Atlantic County Comprehensive Emergency Assistance Services (CEAS)

Atlantic City Department of Social Services
1333 Atlantic Avenue, 3rd Floor
Atlantic City NJ 08401
(609) 345-6700x2985

Atlantic County Child Support

Atlantic City Department of Social Services
1333 Atlantic Avenue, 2nd Floor
Box 5129
Atlantic City NJ 08401
(877) 655-4371

Atlantic County Department of Social Services (Pleasantville)

2 South Main Street
Pleasantville NJ 08232
(609) 348-3001

Family Service Association of South Jersey

3073 English Creek Avenue #3
Egg Harbor Township NJ 08234
(877) 569-0350
(609) 569-0239

Atlantic County Department of Social Services (Hammonton)

310 Bellevue Avenue
Hammonton NJ 08037
(309) 348-3001

Atlantic County Sheriff’s Office

4997 Unami Boulevard
Mays Landing NJ 08330
(609) 909-7200

Southern New Jersey Perinatal Cooperative

1201 New Road #240
2922 Atlantic Avenue, 2nd Floor
Atlantic City NJ 08401
(609) 345-6420
(800) 611-8326

Oceanside I Family Success Center

201 Melrose Avenue #3
Atlantic City NJ 08401
(609) 236-8800

Oceanside II Family Success Center

3201 Atlantic Avenue
Atlantic City NJ 08401
(609) 594-4990

Hammonton Family Success Center

310 Bellevue Avenue
Hammonton NJ 08037
(609) 567-2900

The New Day Family Success Center

622-624 South New York Road
Galloway NJ 08205
(609) 652-0230

Inland Family Success Center

3050 Spruce Avenue
Egg Harbor Township NJ 08234
(609) 569-0376

Atlantic Cape Family Support Organization

950 Tilton Road #108
Northfield NJ 08225
(609) 485-0575

Atlantic City Rescue Mission

2009 Bacharach Boulevard
Atlantic City NJ 08401
(609) 345-5517

Atlantic Project TEACH

2562 Tilton Road
Egg Harbor Township NJ 08234
(609) 645-6548

AtlantiCare Behavioral Health

2511 Fire Road #B10
Egg Harbor Township NJ 08234
(609) 748-9773

The Women’s Center

1201 New Road #240
Linwood NJ 08221
(609) 646-6767
Hotline: (800) 286-4184

CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) for Children

321 Shore Road
Somers Point NJ 08244
(609) 601-7800

Family Service Association East

312 East White Horse Pike
Absecon Highlands NJ 08201
(609) 652-1600

Rutgers Southern Regional Childcare Resource and Referral Agency

1201 New Road #113/114
Linwood NJ 08221
(856) 537-2322
Manager: (609) 365-5027

Youth Advocate Programs

1125 Atlantic Avenue #711
Atlantic City NJ 0840
(609) 345-7333
(609) 345-7566

Cape Atlantic Resource Net

1413 Cantillon Blvd
Mays Landing NJ 08330
(609) 829-2038

Homeless Services

(609) 345-6700x2717

Bergen County Resources for Families Bergen County Superior Court – Family Part

Family Division Main Office
10 Main Street #163
Hackensack NJ 07601
(201) 527-2300

Bergen County Sheriff’s Office

10 Main Street
Hackensack NJ 07601
(201) 336-3500

Bergen County Board of Social Services

218 Route 17 North
Rochelle Park NJ 07662
(877) 655-4371

Bergen County Child Support

39 Hudson Street
Hackensack NJ 07601
(201) 527-4000

Partnership for Community Health, Inc.

140 Route 17 North #104
Paramus NJ 07652
(201) 357-3114

Bergen County Community Action

263 Lafayette Avenue
Cliffside Park NJ 07010
(201) 366-1020

Englewood/Teaneck Family Success Center

44 Armory Street
Englewood NJ 07631
(201) 694-1891

Meadowlands Family Success Center

100 Washington Avenue
Little Ferry NJ 07643
(201) 464-4714

Bergen County Office for Children

1 Bergen County Plaza, 2nd Floor
Hackensack NJ 07601
(201) 336-7150
Hotline: (201) 336-7575

Family Support Organization of Bergen County

0-108 29th Street
Fair Lawn NJ 07410
(201) 796-6209x101

YWCA of Bergen County

214 State Street #207
Hackensack NJ 07601
(201) 345-1911
Hotline: (201) 487-2227

Center for Hope and Safety

12 Overlook Avenue #C
Rochelle Park NJ 07662
(201) 498-9247
(201) 300-6666x21
Hotline: (201) 944-9600

Care Plus, NJ

17-07 Romaine Street
Fair Lawn NJ 07410
(201) 797-2660
(201) 398-9110

Care Plus, NJ, Inc.

611 Route 46 West #100
Hasbrouck Heights NJ 07604
(201) 478-4174

Care Plus, NJ, Inc.

610 Valley Health Plaza
Paramus NJ 07652
(201) 265-8200

Greater Bergen Community Action

392 Main Street
Hackensack NJ 07601
(201) 968-0200

Bergen Central Child Protection and Permanency Local Office #462

240 Frisch Court, 2nd Floor
Paramus NJ 07652
(201) 291-0579
(866) 224-1859

Bergen South Child Protection and Permanency Local Office #461

125 State Street, 1st and 2nd Floors
Hackensack NJ 07601
(201) 996-8900
(800) 531-1096

Women’s Rights Information Center

108 W Palisade Avenue
Englewood NJ 07631
(201) 568-1166

The Bergen One-Stop

60 State Street, 2nd Floor
Hackensack NJ 07601
(201) 329-9600x5533

Partnership for Maternal and Child Health of Northern NJ

Bergen Central Intake
(973) 942-3630x11

Burlington County Resources for Families Burlington County Superior Court – Family Division

49 Rancocas Road, 3rd Floor
Mount Holly NJ 08060
(609) 518-2645

Burlington County Board of Social Services

Burlington County Human Services Facility
795 Woodlane Road
Westampton NJ 08060
(609) 261-1000

Burlington County Family Division Manager

(609) 288-9500x38843

Child Support Enforcement Services

50 Rancocas Road, 2nd Floor
Box 6555
Mount Holly NJ 08060
(877) 655-4371

Center for Family Services, Inc.

108 Somerdale Road
Voorhees NJ 08043
(856) 428-5688x161

Burlington County Community Action Program

718 Route 130 South
Burlington NJ 08016
(609) 261-2323
(855) 616-2227

The Fatherhood Connection, Inc

49 JFK Way #242
Willingboro NJ 08046
(609) 877-1076

Generations Family Success Center

45 High Street
Mount Holly NJ 08060
(609) 267-4001

Pinelands Family Success Center

55 Pemberton Browns Mills Road
Pemberton Township NJ 08015
(609) 261-0001

Family Support Organization of Burlington County

1632 Route 38 East
Lumberton NJ 08048
(609) 265-8838

Women’s Opportunity Center

302 Commerce Square Boulevard
Burlington NJ 08016
(609) 543-6200x224

CONTACT of Burlington County

214 W 2nd Street
Moorestown NJ 08057
(856) 234-5484x4
Hotline: (856) 234-8888
Hotline: (866) 234-5006

Providence House of Catholic Charities

950-A Chester Avenue
Delran NJ 08075
(856) 824-0599x230
Hotline: (877) 871-7551
Hotline: (856) 834-0599

Partners for Kids and Families / Burlington ResourceNet

122B Burrs Road
Mount Holly NJ 08060
(609) 518-6800

Family Support Organization of Burlington County

1632 Route 38 East
Lumberton NJ 08048
(609) 265-8838

Burlington East Child Protection and Permanency Local Office #767

100 Lucas Drive
Lumberton NJ 08048
(609) 265-6900
(866) 663-1331

Burlington West Child Protection and Permanency Local Office #768

200 Campbell Drive #100
Willingboro NJ 08046
(609) 880-9300
(800) 847-1753

Camden County Resources for Families Law Office of Jef Henninger

1818 Old Cuthbert Avenue #216
Cherry Hill NJ 08034
1-855-9-JEFLAW

Camden County Board of Social Services

County Administration Building
600 Market Street
Camden NJ 08102-1255
(856) 225-8800

Camden County Child Support Probation Division

5 Executive Campus #200
Box 8107
Cherry Hill NJ 08002
(856) 661-2626

Camden County Family Division

Hall of Justice 2nd Floor
101 South 5th Street
Camden NJ 08103-4001
(856) 379-2200

Fathers’ and Children’s Equality (FACE)

Box 3302
Cherry Hill NJ 08034
(888) 763-2239

Parents Academy of School Reform Fatherhood Program

Rutgers Community Leadership Center
501 Cooper Street
Camden NJ 08102
(856) 225-6348
(856) 614-5085

Camden County Family Division Manager

(856) 379-2204

Evolution Family Success Center

2850 Federal Street
Camden City NJ 08105
(856) 963-0270

Promise Neighborhood Family Success Center

580 Benson Street
Camden City NJ 08103
(856) 964-8096

Building Bridges Family Success Center

180 White Horse Pike
Clementon NJ 08021
(856) 309-5300

Orchards Family Success Center

416 Sicklerville Road #A-2
Sicklerville NJ 08081
(856) 513-8829

Camden County Family Support Organization

23 West Park Avenue
Merchantville NJ 08109
(856) 662-2600

Center for Family Services

584 Benson Street
Camden NJ 08103
(856) 964-1990x232
Hotline: (866) 295-7378

Camden Healthy Start

808 Market Street, 2nd Floor
Camden NJ 08102
(856) 963-1013

Youth Advocate Programs

515 Grove Street #3A-3B
Haddon Heights NJ 08035
(856) 546-3701

Camden Central Child Protection and Permanency #771

101 Haddon Avenue, 4th and 5th Floors
Camden NJ 08101
(856) 338-5545
(800) 531-1091

Camden/East Child Protection and Permanency Local Office #774

4 Echelon Plaza, 2nd Floor
201 Laurel Road
Voorhees NJ 08043
(856) 772-0152
(888) 576-9629

Camden North Child Protection and Permanency Local Office #766

101 Haddon Avenue, 3rd Floor
Camden NJ 08101
(856) 338-5530
(800) 982-7412

Camden South Child Protection and Permanency Local Office #772

4 Echelon Plaza
201 Laurel Road, Third Floor
Voorhees NJ 08043
(856) 770-1073
(800) 982-7395

Center for Family Services

180 South White Horse Pike / 108 Somerdale Road
Clementon NJ 08021 / Voorhees NJ 08043
(856) 309-5300 / (856) 428-5688x16

Southern NJ Perinatal Cooperative

808 Market Street, 2nd Floor
Camden NJ 08102
(856) 963-1013

Camden County Children Services

512 Lakeland Road #200
Blackwood NJ 08012
(856) 374-6376
(856) 374-6384

Community Planning and Advocacy Council

2500 McClellan Avenue #110
Pennsauken NJ 08109
(856) 663-3998

Creative Arts Morgan Village Academy

990 Morgan Boulevard
Camden NJ 08104
(856) 966-2000x58555

Cape May County Resources for Families Cape May County Board of Social Services Social Services Building

4005 Route 9 South
Rio Grande NJ 08242-1911
(609) 886-6200

Cape May County Family Division Court Complex

Superior Court Chancery, Family Part
4 Moore Road
Cape May Court House NJ 08210
(609) 465-1000
(609) 463-6600

Cape May County Probation Enforcement Court Complex

9 North Main Street
Cape May Court House NJ 08210-1601
(609) 465-1090

Cape May County Family Division Manager

(609) 594-3446
Assistant Family Division Manager: (609) 463-6611

Cape May Family Success Center

1046B Route 47
Rio Grande NJ 08242
(609) 778-6226

Atlantic Cape Family Support Organization

1046B Route 47
Rio Grande NJ 08242
(609) 778-6222

Rutgers Southern Regional Childcare Resource and Referral Agency

1065 Route 47 South #A
Rio Grande NJ 08242
(609) 898-5500
(856) 401-2044

Rutgers Southern Regional Childcare Resource and Referral Agency

1065, NJ-47 #A
Rio Grande NJ 08242
(856) 537-2322
Manager: (609) 898-5500

Youth Advocate Programs

33 Mechanic Street
Cape May Court House NJ 08210
(609) 465-8743
(609) 465-4426

Middle Township Department

3071 E Chestnut Avenue #A1
Vineland NJ 08361
(609) 345-7333
(609) 345-7566

Cape May Child Protection and Permanency Local Office #761

3150 Route 9 South
Rio Grande NJ 08242
(609) 463-9652
(800) 531-1259

Caring for Kids

31 E Mechanic Street
Cape May Court House NJ 08210
(609) 675-5400

Holy Redeemer Health System

1801 Route 9 North
Swainton NJ 08210
(609) 465-2082

CARA, Inc.

Box 774
Cape May Court House NJ 08210-0774
(609) 522-6489
(877) 294-2272

Cape May Homeless Hotline

(877) 886-1325

Cumberland County Resources for Families Cumberland County Board of Social Services

275 North Delsea Drive
Vineland NJ 08360
(856) 691-4600

Cumberland County Board of Social Services

518-520 North Pearl Street
Bridgeton NJ 08302
(856) 691-4600

Cumberland County Family Division Courthouse

Cumberland County Child Support..

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Courts distinguish marital faults from misconduct that indicates an unfit parent. In other words, proof of a horrible spouse does not automatically deem that spouse an unfit parent, and seeking custody doesn’t have to eliminate parenting time. Although no one is legally required to parent perfectly, the court can decide that the dangerously imperfect are unfit.

Only specific criteria will convince a New Jersey family court to declare a parent to be unfit.

A well-documented history of the other parent’s behavior—including photographs; audio/video recordings; medical files detailing injuries, criminal records, and prior arrests; treatment for addiction or mental health; diary entries; and direct correspondence—should be provided to the New Jersey family court at a custody hearing. Behaviors that characterise the unfit parent include:

  • Drug or alcohol use: trafficking in illegal substances, addiction to controlled substances, or altered mental capacity
  • Abuse: domestic abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, excessive discipline, or a history of violence
  • Severe medical condition or Mental illness: certified health issues
  • Incarceration: current and past convictions for [sexual] offenses
  • Neglect or abandonment: any situation lacking adequate food, clothing, education, or shelter (including safe conditions, personal space, heating, and plumbing)
  • Poor judgment: generally inadequate supervision, unhealthy environments, or exposure to dangerous individuals

The strength of your custody case may depend on whether your evidence reveals your biases and manipulations, rather than the other parent’s unfitness. Only concrete, convincing evidence will overpower the New Jersey family court’s tendency to preserve relationships between parent and child.

By the same token, while a parent’s confessed adultery may not impact a custody or parenting time award, excessively bad-mouthing the other parent, or exposing your new paramour too soon, may lead the court to side against you. Family courts try to insulate children from situations that could discolor their relationship with the other parent, especially within a short time from the separation or divorce.

Call us at 1-855-9-JEFLAW any time to discuss your case

Our diligent and tenacious child custody lawyers will step up to the plate and go to bat for you, putting together a visitation schedule that works for everyone in your family. Call our hotline: 1-855-9-JEFLAW for a free consultation about your New Jersey family law and child custody issues.

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Unmarried parents routinely have the same custody, support, and visitation problems that married ones have. Establishing paternity is vital in nondissolution custody cases, when unmarried partners separate. New Jersey family courts make no assumption about a father’s identity when an unmarried woman gives birth.

Divorce lawyers in New Jersey also help parents who never signed a marriage certificate.


To a child, it does not matter whether the parents were married, and NJ family law operates from the perspective of the child’s best interest. As long as paternity is concrete, as in most conventional divorce proceedings, virtually nothing distinguishes married and unmarried couples in custody determinations—they have the same rights, responsibilities, and limitations.

Most custody battles are fought uphill in both directions, but unmarried parents might find their hills a little steeper, with a more winding path to the battlefield. Still, when unmarried parents separate and disagree by pursuing sole custody, filing motions to prevent their child from relocating, or requesting financial support, New Jersey nondissolution courts step in.

Call Us at 1-855-9-JEFLAW any time to discuss your case

Sometimes even the most compatible parents can’t resolve their custody plan problems alone. A couple who separates their assets, ends their relationship, and disagrees over childcare needs the services of a solid family law and divorce attorney. You do not need to be a good partner to be a good parent. The demanding, informed counsel at the Offices of Jef Henninger, Esq. will protect your parental rights throughout the nondissolution process. Call our hotline for complimentary consultations, 1-855-9-JEFLAW.

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What are the types of custody in NJ?

In effect, there are nearly as many possible types of custody schedules as there are families. However, there are four main custody categories, types, or distinctions:

Keep your family together by choosing the custody arrangement that works best.

  • Sole Custody: Only one parent is responsible for caring and providing for the child. Visitation may be included, and sole custody usually describes both physical and legal custody.
  • Joint Custody: Both parents have responsibility for the child, either sharing or alternating physical and legal custody. NJ family courts generally prefer joint custody arrangements. Joint custody applies to either physical or legal custody, or both.
  • Physical Custody: The parent lives with the child, and takes responsibility for making daily decisions about meals, bedtime, clothing, etc. Physical custody may be sole or joint, although with visitation, the other parent wouldn’t necessarily make the day-to-day decisions affecting the child.
  • Legal Custody: The parent has authority over significant decisions in the child’s life, such as medical care, school selection, religious practice, and long-term plans. Legal custody may be sole or joint, but a physical custodian or parent with visitation rights wouldn’t necessarily have legal custody rights.
Call us at 1-855-9-JEFLAW any time to discuss your case

Of course, NJ family courts grant more varieties of custody than those above. Allow us to be your resource when figuring out your parenting plan. For capable advice and practical knowledge about navigating the subtle differences between full, alternating, primary or residential custodies, call the Law Offices of Jef Henninger, Esq. for skilled legal service from tough, smart, and aggressive child custody attorneys in NJ.

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How to file for custody in NJ

To request custody of your child, you need to file documents to petition the court and make your case before a family court judge. The process to file for custody of a child in New Jersey can vary between jurisdictions, and a judge could issue penalties or dismiss your case outright if any part is filed incorrectly. Make sure to fully understand how the law works in the county where your child lives.

Gather your supporting documents when filing for child custody in New Jersey.

  1. Initiate the petitioning process by working with your attorney to create either a complaint for child custody or a motion for child custody, formal documents requesting or changing custody.
  2. Document the full name, physical address, social security number, date of birth, and age of each child. Document your full name and address as plaintiff and the same information for the other parent as defendant, while noting parental relationships.
  3. Describe the custody determination you desire, for example, joint custody. Because NJ distinguishes between legal and physical custody, specify your preferences or ask for both, where appropriate. Fully outline the parenting plan you want. If seeking to deprive the other parent of custodial rights through sole custody, include evidence proving him or her unfit.
  4. Sign and date your completed complaint and any supporting documentation. Make two copies, and keep one for yourself.
  5. File your original motion with the Superior Court (Chancery Division, Family Part) in the county where your child lives. Physically hand the paperwork to the court clerk or secretary, and pay a filing fee(s).
  6. Serve the petition by providing the second copy to the child’s current custodian, likely the other parent. The complaint must be delivered by hand, but not by you or the court. You have a few options:
    1. Send the sealed document via certified mail with a return receipt
    2. Hire a process-server to deliver the sealed document
    3. Enlist a sheriff to deliver the sealed document
    4. Entrust a friend to deliver the sealed document
  7. Keep the receipt—or have the courier sign a sworn statement declaring the date and time the pleading was successfully delivered—and file it with the court as proof of service.
  8. Work with your attorney to prepare your evidence while awaiting the date of the hearing assigned by the court.
Call Us at 1-855-9-JEFLAW any time to discuss your case

The real first step to filing in NJ family court is retaining a seasoned attorney who knows the law. Different municipalities or jurisdictions may have different requirements to apply for child custody, and our army of child custody lawyers knows how to fight custody battles. With a lawyer from the Law Offices of Jef Henninger, Esq. on your side, there is no reason to be daunted by formal legal proceedings. Call today at 1-855-9-JEFLAW for a free consultation regarding your child’s custody.

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