Within the state of New Jersey, family law refers to legal matters that occur among families or in personal relationships between individuals. Most people think of family law as divorce, child support, and child custody issues. Nevertheless, there are a whole host of other legal issues such as domestic abuse, adoptions, and juvenile matters agreements that fall under the family law banner.
Moreover, couples in New Jersey who have gotten married or pursued a family law case in a different state should be aware that family laws vary from state to state. For this reason, it is important to contact a knowledgeable family law firm if you intend to bring such a matter before the courts in New Jersey.
As mentioned above, there are many different issues that come before family law courts. The most common cases included the following:
- Divorce and Post-divorce Issues – If someone wishes to terminate a marriage, they file a court order at family court to stop the marriage. A party can then seek a divorce or annulment to formally end the marriage. In addition, a court can also grant a separation in which the parties stay legally married, and the court settles matters with respect to property, child custody and alimony.
- Child Custody and Visitation – Unfortunately, children often get caught up in a battle between spouses. In New Jersey, the courts assign child custody according to the child’s best interests. Essentially, it is up to the court to determine if a child’s best interests are served by continuing a relationship with both parents.
- Domestic Abuse and Restraining Orders – Anyone subject to domestic violence can petition a family court to issue a restraining order to protect that person and their family from an abuser. Domestic violence allegations can also affect child custody determinations and where the affected parties reside.
- Paternity Issues – If the paternity of a child is in question, either parent may file a case asking a family court to settle the matter. Subsequently, the court will make a determination as to the father of the child. Furthermore, parents who are not married can also ask the court to establish legal custody, physical custody, child support, and visitation schedules.
- Adoption and Legal Guardianships – If someone else would like to become a child’s legal parent, family court has the right to grant adoption and make this parent-child relationship legal.
Guardianship, however, deals with the matter of who will be responsible for all of the personal, financial, and medical decisions for a child or an adult who cannot take care of themselves.
- Juvenile Matters – Family court oversees any allegations of child abuse or neglect or situations in which minors are accused of engaging in illegal behavior. Typically, the District Attorney Juvenile Division will handle these cases. In addition, family court can approve work permits for children under the age of 14.
- Emancipation and Approval of Underage Marriages – People who have not yet reached the age of 18 who desire to marry or would like to be “emancipated” (legally freed from their parents’ control) may petition family court for approval.
The New Jersey Superior Court’s Family Division handles family law court cases. Issues such as divorce, restraining orders, child support, custody and visitation are all heard by Family Division judges. And each vicinage or county usually maintains its own Family Division court, although a few share services.
If you are dealing with one of the aforementioned legal issues, you should contact an experienced New Jersey family law firm for the appropriate legal advice.