The Impact of Domestic Violence on New Jersey Divorce Proceedings

How Will Custody, Visitation and Property Settlements Be Affected?

The Impact of Domestic Violence on New Jersey Divorce ProceedingsMarriages fail for many reasons—infidelity, financial challenges or incompatibility. Unfortunately, in far too many instances, domestic violence or abuse is a significant factor. What are the potential ramifications of allegations of or even convictions for domestic violence, either before or after a divorce complaint is filed?

What Constitutes Domestic Violence?

Though it can take many forms, domestic violence is generally defined as some act or course of conduct/behavior that is used to coerce or control a person. It can take the form of physical or emotional abuse, isolation, stalking, harassment, economic abuse or even sexual abuse.

In divorce filings and proceedings where there is evidence or an allegation of domestic violence, it’s common for the divorce complaint to be accompanied by a request for a temporary restraining order (TRO). In some situations, the motion for the temporary restraining order will be filed before the divorce complaint. The TRO will legally prohibit a person from engaging in certain actions, such as

  • Coming to your home, work or other location,
  • Coming within a certain distance of you in public
  • Communicating with you without your permission or permission of the court, whether by phone, email, letter or otherwise
  • Stalking
  • Sending gifts

How Will Allegations of Domestic Violence Affect the Outcome of Your Divorce?

The areas most affected by allegations or evidence of domestic violence will be custody and visitation with minor children. While the courts encourage regular and meaningful contact between minor children and both parents, custody and visitation rights will often need to be modified to provide reasonable assurances that the victim(s) of domestic violence will be safe. If the domestic violence was directed toward the spouse, the offender may be prohibited from picking up children without an intermediary or some type of supervision. If the abuse was directed toward minor children, visitation may need to be supervised.

Contact the Law Office of David M. Lipshutz

We will only take your case if we know we can help. For an appointment, contact our office online or call us at 856-627-1990. We are available to meet with you Monday through Friday, between 9 am and 5 pm.

Domestic Violence and Time Off from Work in New Jersey

Domestic Violence and Time Off from Work in New JerseyWhen you have been the victim of violence at home, it can have a dramatic impact on your work as well. You may need medical treatment or be required to attend court proceedings. You may be experiencing emotional difficulties, need psychological counseling or need to find a safe place.

In recognition of the challenges that domestic violence victims face, the New Jersey legislature enacted a law allowing persons who have been subjected to such abuse to take time off without fear of retaliation or termination. There are pretty specific requirements, though, and the law is clear about how much time you may take off.

Under the law, to be eligible for time off under the domestic violence statute, you must work for a company that has at least 25 employees. You must have worked for that employer for at least 12 calendar months, and must have put in at least 1,000 hours over that period of time. You must also provide written notice to your employer as soon as possible. You do not need to be the victim of the domestic violence, but your employer may require documentation that you or someone in your household or family has suffered from domestic violence. Under the law, any of the following is sufficient to meet your employer’s request:

  • A restraining or protective order issued by a court
  • Documentation from a prosecutor
  • Documents showing that your accuser was convicted of domestic violence
  • Medical records
  • Certification from a certified domestic violence specialist, a domestic violence agency or the director of a rape crisis center
  • Other documentation from a professional, such as a shelter worker, social worker or member of the clergy

The law requires that you employer keep all records and information about the domestic violence allegations strictly confidential.

Under the law, you can take up to 20 days leave in the twelve months following your request. This time may also count against any leave to which you are entitled under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Contact Attorney David M. Lipshutz

We will only take your case if we know we can help. For an appointment, contact our office online or call us at 856-627-1990. We are available to meet with you Monday through Friday, between 9 am and 5 pm.

Your Rights in a Child Custody Matter in New Jersey

Child-Custody-Matter-in-New-Jersey

When you are involved in a divorce proceeding and there are minor children in the home, you’ll need to come to an agreement about who will have custody and what visitation will look like. As a parent, you want what’s best for your children, but you also want to play a meaningful role in their growth and development.

Physical Custody vs. Legal Custody

The first thing you need to understand is that the law makes a distinction between physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody refers to where the child resides most of the time, i.e., where the child would consider “home” to be. In most instances, the court will grant primary custody to one of the parents and allow visitation with the other parent. In determining which parent will have primary custody, the court will give priority to “the best interests of the child.” (See our discussion below).

Legal custody, on the other hand, refers to each parent’s right to participate in the decision-making process with respect to things like health, education and religious training. As a general rule, the courts prefer to grant joint legal custody, so that both parents are involved.

The Best Interests of the Child

When making decisions that have an impact on minor children, the courts in New Jersey are bound to promote the “best interests of the child.” As a general rule, the “best interests of the children” are served by encouraging regular contact with both parents. The court will also look at specific criteria, including:

  • The age, gender, and physical and mental health of the child
  • The mental and physical health of both parents, including the ability to parent, as well as any allegations of domestic violence or abuse
  • The respective lifestyles of both parents, including alcohol, tobacco and drug use or inappropriate exposure to sexual matters
  • The emotional bond the child has with each parent
  • The ability of the parents respectively to provide for the child’s financial, physical and emotional needs
  • The lifestyle and routines to which the child has become accustomed
  • The impact that changing the child’s residency would have
  • The preference of the child, if the child has reached a certain age, typically 12 years of age

Contact Attorney David M. Lipshutz

We will only take your case if we know we can help. For an appointment, contact our office online or call us at 856-627-1990. We are available to meet with you Monday through Friday, between 9 am and 5 pm.