New Jersey Continues to Crackdown on Gang Activity

Gangs began taking root more than 40 years ago in the U.S., mostly popping up in major cities along the east and west coast. Over the past 20 years, the sheer number of gangs and the amount of people involved has increased dramatically. As a result of acts of vandalism, theft, intimidation, and other violent crimes members often engage in, gangs are blamed for destroying the moral fabric of neighborhoods and terrorizing townspeople. In New Jersey, dealing with gang members is a common problem for police and juvenile offenders are a frequent target for this activity. Teens and gang members of all ages face a crackdown in terms of the number of arrests and the increasingly severe criminal penalties in which these charges can result.

Gang-Related Activities

According to the National Gang Center, there are currently more than 30,000 gangs spread throughout the country. Combined, these represent more than 850,000 individual members. While gangs previously were found mostly in larger cities, they have begun springing up in smaller towns and suburban areas, particularly in New Jersey. Gangs can be involved in a variety of different types of crime. Among the most common and potentially serious include:

● Criminal mischief, hacking, and vandalism of property;
● Harassment, intimidation, and extortion;
● Theft and robbery;
● Assault and battery;
● Sexual harrassment, assault, and rape;
● Drug manufacturing, possession, distribution;
● Human trafficking;
● Attempted homicide and murder.

While these often involve older gang members, it is not uncommon for young people to be swept up in gang activity. They may feel pressured to engage in crimes as a way of fitting in or as part of an initiation rite with a particular group. The State of New Jersey takes a tough stance on any kind of gang-related crime and a conviction carries heavy penalties. In addition to heavy fines and an increased jail sentence, gang involvement is considered an organized crime. As a result, those charged can face seizure of their assets or property, as well as potential federal charges.

What Constitutes a Gang in New Jersey?

Young people have always had a tendency to form themselves into smaller social groups or ‘cliques.’ Together, they often end up getting into more mischief than they would individually. Juveniles do not have to be a part of a large or well-organized street gang to face criminal gang charges. Under Section 2C: 33-29 of the New Jersey Statutes, a criminal street gang is defined as any three or more people associated as street gang members based on two or more of the following seven criteria:

● Self-proclamation that they are a gang;
● Witness testimony or official statements;

● Written or electronic communications;
● Ownership of gang related paraphernalia or photographs;
● Tattoos or other bodily marks;
● Clothing or the wearing of certain colors;
● Any other sign that is indicative of gang membership or activity.

Street gang affiliation is assumed if you were previously engaged in organized crime or any type of gang activity over the past five years. Even if you were not convicted in the matter, you arrest records could be used against you on your current charges. Our Middlesex Criminal Defense Attorneys Provide Aggressive Representation Gang-related criminal charges could result in up to a 30-year jail sentence, in addition to the penalties for the other charges you face. With your freedom on the line, get the Law Office of Jordan B. Rickards, Esq. on your side. We are dedicated to fighting for your rights, providing the trusted guidance and aggressive legal representation you need. Call or contact our Milltown
criminal defense attorneys online and request a consultation right away.

How a Criminal Conviction Impacts Other Areas of Your Life

When facing any type of criminal charges in New Jersey, it is important to get an experienced criminal defense attorney on your case immediately. Your attorney acts as a strong ally on your side, reviewing your charges, the procedures followed during your arrest, and the evidence that may be used against you. Avoiding a conviction is a top priority. With even seemingly minor crimes, you could face serious penalties, including heavy fines and a potentially lengthy jail sentence. In addition, your conviction will remain a part of your criminal record. This can have long-reaching ramifications in other areas of your life.

The Impact of a Criminal Conviction

Even if you are only charged with a crime, it will show up on your criminal record. This will be visible to anyone who cares to look. In addition to formal background checks and access through the New Jersey public records system, there are numerous other resources that allow others to see incidents that may have occurred in your past. Despite the fact that you may have been cleared of your charges, even the mere accusation of a crime can damage your reputation and may be used in a variety of scenarios.

If you have been charged and convicted in a criminal matter, the potential ramifications are even more severe. Criminal charges can work against for years into the future, hindering your prospects in personal, professional, and legal matters. Places where these impacts are likely to be most severe include:

● Employment screening: Many jobs only ask about felony convictions, meaning you do not have to disclose a misdemeanor on your application. However, any convictions will likely show up on a background check, which could influence hiring decisions.
● Holding public office: A criminal conviction may prevent you from holding certain public offices, whether they are on the local, state, or national level.

● Non-profit work: You may be eligible to work with certain types of charities or non- profits as a result of your criminal past.
● Educational aid: If you apply for financial aid for college or a trade school, certain types of criminal charges, such as those involving illegal drugs, could prevent you from obtaining grants or loans.
● Obtaining licenses: Having a criminal record could prevent you from jeopardize your driving privileges or prevent you from obtaining certain business licenses.
● Obtaining housing or personal loans: A criminal conviction can cause you to be denied certain types of loans and can hinder your approval on job applications.
● Family court proceedings: When you are involved in a divorce, child custody dispute, or adoption proceedings, a past criminal record can be used against you and could significantly impact your legal rights in these cases.
● Immigration proceedings: If you are in the country on a green card or are otherwise seeking legal status, a criminal conviction could hinder these efforts, depending on the charges involved.
If you are charged and convicted of a crime and complete the required sentencing imposed by the court, you may be entitled to get your criminal record expunged through the New Jersey court. This can help minimize the impact a conviction has on the above areas. Get Our Middlesex Criminal Defense Attorneys on Your Side Unfortunately, one of the most significant impacts of a criminal record is that it could make charges more severe in future criminal cases. To protect yourself, get the Law Office of Jordan B. Rickards, Esq., on your side. We can help build the strong legal defense you need to avoid a conviction. Call or contact our Milltown criminal defense attorneys online and request a
consultation today.

Estate Planning Tips to Get Your Child Ready for College

For parents of high school graduates, the summer months are often busy planning for the college semester looming ahead. Both the future college student and his or her family are likely to be feeling a mix of excitement and apprehension. Even if your teen is going to school relatively close to home, it still represents a transition to early adulthood. In most cases, rather than deferring to mom or dad, your on or daughter will be making his or her own decisions and dealing with other adults and institutions independently. As a result, it is important to consult with our New Jersey family law attorney to ensure the proper legal documents are in place.

Your Child’s Right to Privacy as a College Student

Parents are used to being involved in virtually every area of their child’s life. Even though teenage children may be growing up quickly and are assuming more responsibility, parents are still the first point of contact for them. At school, parents get notified of absences, are required to
attend periodic conferences regarding grades, have input when it comes to sports or recreational activities, and are informed about any health issues or those involving the guidance counselor.

With college planning, they generally provide all the financial documents required and play a
major role in determining which school the child will attend.
All of this changes once the student goes off to college. The Family Educational Rights and
Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that serves to protect the rights of college students. It
protects their grades, attendance records, and many other issues that are likely to develop on
campus. In many cases, there are restrictions regarding what the college can tell parents,
particularly when it comes to the following:

● Personal information;
● Personal health care choices; 
● Financial matters;
● Security related issues;
● Disciplinary concerns.

Even in terms of general health care, parents may be listed as an emergency contact but the school is not obligated to automatically give out any information. This type of information is often protected under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Estate Planning Documents Your Adult Child Needs

Considering the level of privacy college students are afforded and the fact that they are treated as adults, it is important for parents to take legal steps to ensure their rights and those of their children are protected. Some estate planning documents your college student should have in
place before leaving for school include:

● A will: In some cases, students may have cars, expensive electronics, recreational vehicles, websites, online businesses, and money in savings accounts or being held in trust. Not having a will could result in potentially lengthy probate court proceedings. Even if they do not possess these types of assets, a will is still a smart idea.
● Power of attorney: This document authorizes you or another person they name to handle financial and business matters on their behalf if they become incapacitated, such as due to an accident or illness.
● Advance directives: In New Jersey, advance directives provide important information to health care providers about the types of medical care your child would want if an accident occurs. This includes a health care power of attorney, which authorizes you to
make important decisions regarding medical treatment on their behalf.

Get Guidance From Our Middlesex Estate Planning Attorneys

To protect your child while they are away at college, the Law Office of Jordan B. Rickards, Esq., can guide you in the legal documents that should be put in place. To request a consultation, call or contact our Milltown family law attorneys online today.

Tips on Talking to Children About Your Divorce

The breakup of a marriage is never easy. It can be particularly painful when there are children involved. Young people are resilient and do have a tendency to bounce back fairly quickly from unpleasant events that occur in their lives. At the same time, you as a parent play an important
role in their divorce recovery. When and how you tell your children about your divorce can help to reduce their trauma and can lay the groundwork for a healthier adjustment.

Breaking the News of a Divorce to Your Children

Breaking the news of a divorce to children is one of the hardest tasks for parents. In many cases, children are likely to be at least partly aware of some of the problems you and your spouse are experiencing. Sharing information about what is happening with them in an honest, open, and
age-appropriate manner plays an important role in your family’s recovery.

Parents Magazine advises that there is no perfect way to tell children about divorce, but there are
approaches that can help make the news less shocking and painful. If possible, present a united
front by having both parents present. If this is not an option, avoid blaming your spouse or overly
criticizing his or her behavior. Additional ways to make this conversation easier:

● Pick the right time. Choose a day where there are not other pressing concerns. A Friday
night or weekend afternoon when the family has time to spend together may be best.
● Tell everyone together. It is important for them to hear this news at the same time,
though you will want to follow up with each child individually afterward.
● Make it about them. While you likely have your own pain, grief, and fears about the
situation you are dealing with, remember that your job as a parent is to be supportive and
sympathetic to them and what they are experiencing.
● Rehearse what you will say. Practice what you will say in advance. Leave out details,
such as a spouse’s affair or particular gripes you have. Speak in general ways about the
fact that the marriage is no longer working.
● Provide plenty of reassurance. Remind them that no matter what happens, you love
them and you will all get through this.
How Children Often React to a Divorce
When breaking the news of a divorce to children, it is important to be aware of how they are
likely to react. This will vary depending on their age. Psychology Today provides this general
guideline:
● Children 5 and under: They may not completely grasp the seriousness of what you are
telling them, but they may get more clingy as the situation unfolds;

● Children 6 through 12: They are more likely to have questions and concerns regarding
who will take care of them and how this will impact practical matters, such as where they
live or go to school.
● Children 12 through 18: They are likely to have the most complex reactions. They may
either erupt in anger or shut down, showing little emotion. Older children are more likely
to confide in their friends. Allow them the time and space needed to process their
feelings.

Our Middlesex Divorce Attorneys are Here to Help

t the Law Office of Jordan B. Rickards, Esq., we understand the impact divorce can have on every area of your life. While you deal with your family and other important personal issues, we attend to practical details, ensuring your legal rights are protected. To discuss your options and
how we can help you, contact our Milltown family law attorneys and request a consultation today.

Early Warning Signs of Domestic Abuse

In marriages in which domestic violence is a factor, it often comes as a shock to the victim when a partner acts out against him or her in a threatening or violent manner. Despite the abusers apologies afterwards and any vows they make to change their behavior, these tend to not be isolated incidences. Domestic violence often escalates with time and can leave the victim feeling trapped and hopeless. It is important to be aware that help is available, both once domestic violence occurs and at the earliest stages. Understanding the signs of an abusive relationship before it has a chance to escalate further can spare you years of heartache, as well as potentially life-threatening injuries. Our New Jersey family law attorney shares some of the early indicators of which you need to be aware.

Identifying a Potentially Abusive Relationship

Domestic abuse involves punching, hitting, kicking, shoving, and other types of violent behaviors. It can also take the form of sexual harassment and assualt, verbal abuse such as name calling or putdowns, and making threats or damaging property. People involved in these situations are often shocked when this type of behavior occurs. However, there tend to be warning signs early in a relationship that indicate a potential for domestic violence months or even years before it actually occurs.

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, the following are clearly identifiable characteristics of unhealthy relationships which could put you at risk for future abuse:

● Difficulties in communicating about problems or issues within the relationship;
● Having to hide things from your partner for fear of upsetting them;
● Dishonesty about their background, family, jobs, past relationships, or finances;
● A lack of respect, in which your partner acts inconsiderately or frequently disregards your
thoughts and feelings;
● Invasion of privacy, such as listening in on phone calls, reading texts, or opening mail;
● Controlling behavior, which fails to take into consideration your opinions on important
matters;
● Jealousy over interactions you have with friends, coworkers, or family members;
● Taking control of finances and limiting your access to funds.

What to do if You Notice Early Warning Signs of Domestic Violence

Denial often plays a major role in domestic abuse situations. The victim may excuse the abusers behavior, blame themselves, or think that it is ‘normal.’ One of the first steps you should take if you have concerns that something is not right in your relationship is to speak with a knowledgeable person you can trust, such as your family law attorney or domestic violence counselor. They can help identify patterns in your relationship that could put you in danger in the future.

It is also important to be aware of the ways in which you can seek protection from abuse. The New Jersey State Police outline the many types of actions related to domestic abuse that can be penalized by law in our state. These include:

● Stalking;
● Harassment;
● Lewdness;
● Making terroristic threats;
● Criminal mischief;
● False imprisonment;
● Criminal restraint;
● Kidnapping;
● Criminal trespass;
● Theft;
● Destruction of property;
● Assault and battery.

When these types of incidents happen or you have reasonable fears that they are likely to occur, you may be able to obtain a temporary restraining order (TRO). This can allow you to take possession of property, such as your home or car while property. It can also grant you rights to children and financial support, while preventing your partner from approaching you at school, work, or other places. Reach Out to Our Middlesex Domestic Violence Attorney

Do not downplay the danger you could be in if your spouse is exhibiting controlling or abusive behaviors. Reach out to the Law Office of Jordan B. Rickards, Esq. to discuss the situation and how we can help. To request a confidential consultation, call or contact our Milltown family law attorney online today.

White Collar Crimes in Public Eye

White collar crimes are typically those that involve non-violent offenses committed by people in the professional community and those holding high-level positions. They often have to do with fraud or theft crimes, in which a person uses their power to advantage. There has never been much sympathy for these types of crimes but a slew of new, public cases has people even more outraged. In these situations, it is important to have an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney on your side to avoid a criminal conviction along with the professional damage you are likely to face.  

 

Recent White Collar Crimes Make Headlines

According to a June 2019 report by the Huffington Post, legal proceedings continue for those involved in a college admissions scandal which made headlines earlier in the spring of this year. The public was outraged when it was reported that rich and famous actresses, fashion designers, and people throughout the professional community were accused of bribing college officials and committing other acts of fraud to get their children into high ranking universities.

The perception was that these people already had numerous privileges. The idea that they used their money and power to flaunt admissions policies, potentially depriving more worthy and qualified students from gaining entry, resulted in a massive outpouring of scorn. In addition to the potential criminal penalties all of those involved now face, their careers are in tatters and they have exposed their family members to public disgrace.

 

This is just one of several very public scandals to make headline news recently. Another involves the wealthy Sackler family, owners of Purdue Pharma who make the prescription drug Oxycontin. According to National Public Radio, the family now faces numerous lawsuits and potential criminal charges for deceptive marketing practices. They are being publicly blamed for pushing the drug that has resulted in so many accidental overdose deaths.

 

White Collar Crimes Now Focus on Privilege

White collar crimes have been traditionally centered around illegal stock market activity, Ponzi schemes, embezzlement, and other deceptive practices. These often occur among professionals at the corporate level. A May 2019 Forbes report states that white collar crimes typically include the following elements:

  • Pressure to obtain more money, property, or power;
  • Rationalization of certain types of practices, such as skimming money or misrepresenting facts;
  • Opportunity, in which lax federal regulations and an overall lack of oversight allow certain types of white collar crimes to occur.

While all of the recent cases include these elements, there is also a perceived factor of privilege among the alleged perpetrators. As a result, juries may be more inclined to ‘make an example’ of these people when handing out criminal penalties.

In terms of public trust and being able to return to their prior positions, this may prove more difficult, as well. In the past, being accused, convicted, and even serving a prison sentence for white collar crimes did not necessarily end your career. Think of Martha Stewart’s comeback after being released from jail for conspiracy, obstruction, and making false statements to federal investigators. For people charged and convicted in today’s contentious social climate, putting the past behind them may not be so easy.   

Let Our Middlesex County Criminal Defense Attorney Assist You

Make no mistake: White collar crimes are a serious matter which can have lasting ramifications for both you and your family members. At the Law Office of Jordan B. Rickards, Esq. we provide the trusted guidance and aggressive legal representation you need in these situations. To discuss your case, call or contact our Milltown criminal defense attorney and request a consultation today.  

 

Harsh Tactics Your Spouse May Use During Divorce

Going through a divorce is not an easy process. Particularly if your spouse did not want a divorce, there are harsh tactics he or she may utilize to make the proceedings even more difficult for everyone involved. Our divorce attorneys can help protect you in these situations, but it is important to prepare yourself and to assess the potential risks.  

 

Ways Your Spouse Can Make Your Divorce More Difficult

The New Jersey Statutes provide legal guidelines to ensure the divorce process is fair and goes as smoothly as possible. However, harsh and aggressive actions your former spouse may take can result in time consuming and costly delays, while jeopardizing your well-being and your rights in certain situations. Three common areas in which this is likely to occur include:

 

Court Filings

If you are the one who files for a divorce, your spouse may refuse to cooperate. He or she may evade service of the divorce petition or refuse to comply with any court requests. If your spouse is served but does not respond to the petition, this can work in your favor. Provided there is evidence that he or she received the appropriate documents, an automatic judgement may be granted on your behalf.

Other harsh tactics include accusing you of improper acts, such as having an affair, and making fraudulent or frivolous legal filings. There are strict rules regarding such filings and your spouse can face serious penalties for attempting to interfere with court processes. These actions may also entitle you to a larger portion in your divorce settlement.

 

Division of Property and Assets

One of the most common actions taken by disgruntled spouses in divorce proceedings is draining all financial accounts or running up debts. Speak with our experienced Milltown divorce attorney immediately if you suspect this is happening. We can put the proper legal documents in place to protect you and help you get compensation for any losses through your divorce settlement or order.

Another common tactic is attempting to destroy, give away, or hide assets. A spouse may do this to avoid having to share them with you in marital property division proceedings. An investigation into your bank accounts, past tax returns, and Middlesex County property records can often help to determine if this is occurring.  

 

Children

Using children as a means of getting back at you for filing a divorce is unfortunately common. Your spouse may refuse to provide any child support until ordered to do so by the court. Even then, he or she may attempt to work under the table, hide income, or flat-out refuse to pay. The New Jersey Department of Human Services can aid in enforcement efforts. This includes garnishing wages, seizing money in their personal accounts, and suspending their driving privileges or professional license until the debt is paid.

Another common tactic is sabotaging child time sharing plans. Your spouse may be late to pick up the child for pre-arranged visits, cancel suddenly, or refuse to return them. Your spouse may also bad-mouth you to the children or attempt to turn them against you. In addition to jeopardizing his or her own parental rights, your spouse can face serious penalties for these types of actions. Our family law attorneys can guide you in the steps you need to take to stop or prevent this behavior.   

 

Our Middlesex County Divorce Attorney is Here to Help

When your spouse attempts to use harsh tactics against you during divorce proceedings, the Law Office of Jordan B. Rickards, Esq. provides the strong, professional legal representation you need to protect yourself. To discuss your options and how we can assist you, reach out and call or contact our Milltown divorce attorney online to request a consultation today.  

Questions Before Signing a Divorce Agreement

Decisions made during divorce proceedings can have a major impact on your future financial security. Getting the maximum amount you are entitled to in a divorce settlement should be a top priority. The following are questions to ask yourself during these negotiations and before signing any legal documents.

 

Issues to Consider Before Agreeing to a Divorce Settlement

 

In any divorce, there are decisions regarding division of marital property and assets which must be made. Under New Jersey Family Court rules, financial disclosures are used to list financial accounts, real estate, personal belongings, income, and other items of value.  

Negotiations will generally be held between the both of you and your attorneys to determine how to divide these assets in a way that is fair to everyone involved. Questions you need to ask yourself before considering any settlements include:

 

Did your spouse engage in marital misconduct?

 

Under Section 2A:34-2 of the New Jersey Statutes, divorce may be filed on the basis of irreconcilable differences. This is often referred to as a no-fault divorce. You may also be entitled to a divorce based on fault grounds related to actions your spouse took during the marriage. These include issues such as adultery, habitual drunkenness, domestic abuse, criminal activity, and abandonment.

All of these activities create hardships in your marriage which jeopardize your financial security. If your divorce is filed on the basis of these grounds, it may entitle you to a larger portion in a settlement.

 

Are you being compensated for the sacrifices you made during the marriage?

 

It is not uncommon in a marriage for one spouse to sacrifice his or her own career for the sake of supporting the partner or to take care of children. In this case, you may be entitled to spousal support or alimony. This can help you to get the skills you need to re-enter the workforce and can ensure you are financially provided for while you get back on your feet.

 

Do you have children that need to be taken care of?

 

Child support payments are meant to provide for the care and support of children of your marriage. These payments are based on both parents’ income and the amount of time the children spend in each one’s home. However, your child’s age or stage of development may require you to remain home with them, rather than returning to the workforce. In this case, you may be entitled to spousal support or a greater portion of property and assets in your settlement.

 

Are there any assets you spouse may be hiding?

 

According to Forbes, it is common for spouses to hide assets during divorce to avoid having to divide them in any resulting settlement or divorce order. If you suspect this may be an issue, discuss it right away with your divorce attorney.

We can check bank statements, past filed tax returns, property records, and other documents to uncover these assets. Even if you have already signed a settlement or an order was issued in your case, we may be able to go back to court based on new evidence.

Get Trusted Legal Guidance From Our Middlesex County Divorce Attorney

 

At the Law Office of Jordan B. Rickards, Esq., we provide the trusted legal guidance you need when going through a divorce. We review all aspects of your case, taking the appropriate actions so that you can get the maximum amount you are entitled to in your divorce order. Contact our Milltown divorce attorney online today and request a consultation.

 

 

Five Items That Often Get Overlooked in Wills and Other Estate Planning Document

Having estate planning documents in place, such as a will, living will, and powers of attorney, helps to protect you and your loved ones when the unexpected occurs. A surprising number of people tend to put off this task until it is too late, however. Among those who do have a will, it is not uncommon for people to overlook important issues and assets. This could end up creating confusion and costly delays, impacting those you care about for years into the future. The following are five items to discuss with your family law attorney, so they can be included in your estate plan.

Include These Items When Creating Your Will

When a person passes in Milltown, their estate must be settled in Middlesex County Surrogate’s Court. If you do not have a will in place at the time of your death, it subjects your property and assets to complex laws and jeopardizes inheritance rights of your family and friends.  

Even if you have a will, leaving important items out creates problems and costly delays. The following are five items people often forget to include:

  • Alternate estate representatives and beneficiaries: When creating your will, you must list all beneficiaries of the property and assets you possess. You will also need to name someone as estate administrator, who will act as your personal representative in probate court. Provide alternates in the event they pass before you or are otherwise incapacitated. The same is true when creating powers of attorney.
  • A list of digital assets: Despite the amount of personal and business activities that occur online, Forbes advises that people often forget digital assets in their wills. These include websites, online businesses, income streams, and financial accounts. Be sure to list these along with social media accounts, usernames, and passwords in your will.
  • Instructions for personal belongings: People focus on items of financial value in creating a will, such as homes, cars, and financial accounts. However, other items can have personal value and meaning to loved ones and should also be addressed. List those that may be considered important to your family or friends, such as books, old photographs, inherited jewelry, or household belongings.
  • Provisions for older adults: Many of us have older adults we provide care for. Be sure and mention them in your estate planning documents. If it is personal services, such as calling on them regularly or taking them to doctor appointments, you may request someone you know complete these tasks. If you provide financial support or anticipate doing so in the future, consider allocating these funds through your will.
  • Provisions for pets: Pets are an important part of the family and you want to ensure they are provided for in the event you are unable to care for them yourself. Include them in your will and with your powers of attorney. Find someone in advance who will agree to take responsibility for them in the event of your death or if you become incapacitated. Make provisions so that this person will have the funds they need for food, veterinary care, and potential boarding costs.

Speak With Our Middlesex County Family Law Attorney

To ensure your will includes the above items and that other appropriate estate planning documents are in place, reach out to the Law Office of Jordan B. Rickards, Esq. To speak with our Milltown family law attorney, call or contact our office online and request a consultation today.

 

Behaviors That Could Jeopardize Your Rights in Child Custody Proceedings

As a parent, the prospect of child custody proceedings can fill you with a sense of dread. There are behaviors on your part that can impact these proceedings, putting your parental rights in jeopardy. While you cannot change the past, you can show the court that you are a reasonable adult capable of putting your child’s best interests above your own.

Past Actions That Could Threaten Your Right to Custody

Things happen in life that can cause otherwise good people to get caught up in bad situations. Unfortunately, even if you have put the past behind you, having a checkered background could have an impact on your child custody rights today.

Under the New Jersey Statutes, there are numerous issues the judge will consider when determining child custody and visitation arrangements. This includes both the parent’s current and prior relationship with the child and their ability to provide the love, nurturing, and support the child needs. While the court generally encourages child time-sharing arrangements that allow both parents to be active and involved in the child’s life, there are past behaviors that can impact your rights in these proceedings. These include:

  • Criminal activity: If you have a history of criminal activity, past arrests, or associations with others who have a criminal record, it could limit your rights to child custody and visitation.
  • Drug or alcohol problems: The court’s primary concern is protecting the child’s health and well being. Parents who have a history of drug or alcohol problems and who have not received treatment are less likely to be trusted by the court with the child’s safety.
  • Abandonment: If you went periods of time where you were not a part of the child’s life, you will need to slowly regain the child’s (and the court’s) trust.
  • Domestic violence: A history of domestic violence, either against the other parent or in other relationships, will work against you in child custody proceedings.
  • Child abuse: If you have ever been charged or investigated for child abuse in the past, your parental rights could be in jeopardy.

While it can be discouraging to have past bad behavior come back to haunt you today, there is hope. Provided you have complied with any court orders, paid fines or other penalties, sought treatment, or have other tangible proof you can point to that you have changed your behavior, the judge may still allow you to take part in any parenting plans made.

 

Behaviors to Avoid in Child Custody Proceedings

In addition to past actions, there are behaviors you can engage in currently during child time-sharing proceedings that can cast you in an unfavorable light. These include:

  • Being late or unprepared for hearings: While unexpected events do crop up, being chronically late and not working with your attorney can negatively impact you.
  • Losing your temper with the other parent or the judge: A judge may find you in contempt of court for this type of behavior.
  • Refusing to cooperate in creating a parenting plan: The New Jersey Courts require parents to submit a parenting plan in child custody cases. Not being willing to negotiate with the other party will work against you.
  • Refusing to abide by the terms of custody agreements: Once a court order is issued, it must be obeyed. Failure to do so could jeopardize your rights and may result in your arrest.

Get Our Middlesex County Child Custody Attorney on Your Side

 

To protect your rights as a parent in child custody hearings, get the Law Office of Jordan B. Rickards, Esq. on your side. Call or contact our Milltown family law attorney online to request a consultation today.

 Call ( 732) 297-8200 or Text Jordan