Grandparents Rights in South Jersey
In certain circumstances, if children establish a bond with a grandparent, or grandparents, the New Jersey Courts will preserve that grandparent’s rights to custody or “grand-parenting time.” Sometimes, those rights are protected despite the objections of the child’s biological parents.
Assessment – Our initial 1-hour consultation will provide you with an assessment of your case. That will include (but may not be limited to): a) The history of your relationship with the child’s parents. b) A review of the history and nature of your relationship with your grandchild. c) A review of any prior and current orders or signed agreements for custody that may be in place, including any grand-parenting time that you have had in the past. d) A specific timeline of the events that occurred prior to your denial of custody, and e) To what degree and extent you have stepped into the “role of parent” in your grandchild’s life. We will also review of your financial status and contributions as they pertain to case. Finally, we will review the “state of the law” with regard to grand-parenting rights, and based on the facts of your case, determine if filing a claim will be worthwhile.
Document Preparation – If appropriate, we will draft your motion for custody and/or grand-parenting time. All accompanying exhibits that tend to support your certification will also be attached. Certifications from other parties including neighbors, teachers, clergy, psychologists, etc…, and their supporting documents may also be appended to your motion.
Based on the response to your motion, we will come up with a strategy which might include negotiating a pre-hearing settlement with an opposing party or their counsel. If successful, this can greatly reduce your litigation costs. Negotiations can also occur in Court, on the day of, and prior to the hearing. If a resolution can be found, we would draft a consent order and file it with the Court at that time.
Motion Hearing and Plenary Hearing – Clients are expected to appear for their hearing and may need to provide answers to the Judge’s questions. Typically, the Judge will not consider anything that is not submitted in advance, in writing, per the Court’s rules. They day of the hearing is not a time to tell your story, but may be a time to argue your case if the Judge is “on the fence” or does not know in advance what to decide.
If the Judge determines that there is a significant factual issue that needs to be resolved, he/she may order us to return for a Plenary hearing. That hearing will require additional preparation and may require the appointment of a guardian ad litem (legal representative for the child). The Court could also order psychological evaluation(s), or appointment a custody expert. These experts may be questioned in Court (direct and cross examined) about their reports and opinions. The Plenary hearing will uncover the facts and professional opinions that enable the Judge to make a final ruling.