The attorneys who founded this firm decided to devote their entire legal careers to family law for one reason: If we are going to work as hard as we do, we want to help people with the most important thing in their lives — and for parents, there is nothing and no one in the world more important to us than our children.
Child custody and parenting time (which is no longer called “visitation”) is by far the most challenging, emotional, and complicated issue in the world of family law. However, for any case involving children, it is the most critical. The physical, emotional, and psychological well-being of a child does not hold a price-tag and cannot be compromised.
Gone are the days when courts automatically assumed that children belong primarily with their mother and should merely "visit" their father. Now that parenting roles have become gender-neutral in more and more households, so has the world of custody litigation. Custody and parenting time are now determined by the best interests of the child. These cases are extremely fact-sensitive; as the circumstances of every family are different, the specific needs of every child are different, and the relationship that child has with their parents is different. The best interests of a child in one family may be completely different from the best interests of another child of the same age and gender in a different family.
N.J.S.A. 9:2-4 provides that the factors that shall be considered in determining the best interests of a child include, but are not limited to:
If parents cannot agree upon a custody and parenting time plan, a court often requires that a best interest evaluation be conducted by a qualified expert. Sometimes the parents retain separate evaluators; sometimes they jointly retain one evaluator; and sometimes the judge appoints an evaluator. At the conclusion of the evaluations and the issuance of the evaluator's report, the parties determine whether they are able to settle their matter accordingly or whether they will proceed with a trial.
Mediation can be a wonderful tool to resolve custody and parenting time issues within your matter, provided the safety of the child is not at risk with one parent or the other. Our custody mediators can help you and your child’s other parent work together on developing a parenting time plan that focuses on what works best for your children and your family. We will also help you develop a plan of action and ground rules for how to handle various issues such as holidays, vacations, schooling, extra-curricular activities, and numerous other details that will be important to your family in the coming years, not just at the time of your legal case.
A judge, or even a custody evaluator, cannot possibly focus on the level of detail that we can address in your mediation sessions and your settlement agreement. This will help you avoid so many unnecessary conflicts in your co-parenting journey and often equips you to communicate effectively with each other in the future when conflicts or unexpected issues do arise.
Whether we assist you as litigators, as attorneys working hard to settle your matter or as mediators, our focus will always be on the best interest and well-being of your child. Some clients are surprised to learn that our firm’s prioritizing children’s well-being over all else may even conflict with the way they want us to advocate. We will not advocate for a position if we have a legitimate reason to believe that it will be harmful to the child involved. We will not participate in trading time with a child for a financial incentive in a case. We will remind you to love your children more than you “hate” each other.
For assistance with your child custody or parenting time case or for help negotiating a parenting time arrangement that is in the best interest of your child, we invite you to contact Family Focused Legal Solutions online or schedule an initial consultation by calling us at 973-993-9960. Our firm serves the greater part of North and Central Jersey including but not limited to Morris County, Somerset County, Bergen County, and Sussex County. All communications are strictly confidential.