Like every other state, New Jersey family law courts prefer that both parents be involved in the lives of their children, so they are pre-disposed to liberal visitation – also known as parenting time – for the noncustodial parent.
However, there are some instances where the courts may not grant visitation at all, or impose supervised visitation. These include instances where a parent has:
- Been convicted of a drug crime or DUI
- Has been convicted of a sex crimes offense
- Has a history of domestic violence
- Has a history of abusing drugs or alcohol
While it is usually best for divorcing parents to work out an equitable time-sharing schedule with the assistance of their divorce attorneys, the courts do recognize that where criminal or abusive behavior is involved, this may not be possible.
If a parent has engaged in criminal, abusive or addictive behavior, he or she may be disqualified from visitation rights. In cases where divorcing parents cannot agree on visitation, the court may step in and refer the matter to custody mediation. This process requires that both parents work together to create a reasonable parenting plan that will become binding after the court approves it. If parents cannot agree after participating in mediation, the court will make the decision.
In the most extreme cases, the court may terminate parental rights if it can be proven that:
- The parent has or will continue to endanger the health and development of the child;
- The parent is unable or unwilling to provide a safe, stable home environment for the child;
- There have been attempts made to correct the harmful circumstances; and
- Termination of parental rights will not do more harm than good.
Absent any of these extreme circumstances, noncustodial parents in New Jersey have a constitutional right to see their children and it is highly unlikely that visitation rights would be eliminated completely. If one parent is being unreasonable and denying the other parent sufficient time with their children, a judge will issue a court order mandating visitation for the other parent.
You can rely on Murphy & Cistaro to skillfully negotiate and mediate your issues to a satisfactory resolution. Should the need arise, you can also count on our experience for being aggressive litigators if the situation calls for a more assertive response. Contact us today for your free consultation.