What Does A Consent Order Regarding Child Custody Look Like In A Complex Case?
In the following case involved custody of a young child named Mary here in New Jersey. I have been the attorney for the defendant for many, many years as this child custody case sadly went on for years. Moreover, this particular case would be a challenge for the most seasoned attorney. When I came into the case, a final restraining order had already been established. Consistent with New Jersey law, the restraining order addressed custody of the minor child, Mary. At that time, a Custody Neutral Assessment (CNA) was court ordered as well. One myself and the other lawyer received the results of the CNA, we were able to use the CNA as the framework of a global settlement regarding both custody and parenting time with respect to this little girl. Following is the type of language that would be placed into a Consent Order in such a case. For obvious reason, I have radically changed the names and facts of this case.
THIS MATTER coming before the Court by way of several applications between the parties, the most recent application being filed by the Defendant, John Doe, through counsel, Edward R. Weinstein, Esq. of the law office of Edward R. Weinstein, LLC, seeking to establish unsupervised parenting time with the parties’ daughter and the parties with the help of counsel, Plaintiff, Jane Doe, through counsel, Benjamin Cardozo, Esq., of Cardozo, Warren and Rehnquist, P.C., having arrived at an agreement as to the issue of parenting time (supervised and unsupervised) taking into consideration, in part, the recommendations of Dr. Goldstein who conducted a Custody Neutral Assessment (CNA) and other relief and for good cause shown:
IT IS in this ______day of _____________ 2015, ORDERED and AGREED as follows:
1. The Final Restraining Order (FRO) issued under the above docket shall remain in full force and effect and this Order shall only amend the parenting provisions in any prior FRO in effect to reflect the terms below.
2. The parties agree and acknowledge that they will cooperate with one another and assure that Mary is adjusting to the parenting schedule prior to progressing with additional or unsupervised parenting time. With that being said, both parties agree and acknowledge that it is their intent to work together and they will take into consideration Mary’s needs, feelings, and if she is properly adjusting, prior to any transitions herein. The parties further agree and acknowledge that if the child is not adjusting well they will discuss readjusting parenting time to assure Mary does not regress.
3. The parties have mutually agreed, at this time, that they believe it is in the best interest of Mary that the Defendant and Mary forego seeking additional reunification therapy. Both parties acknowledge that Mary has expressed a strong desire not attend therapy and that she has been progressing more now without individual therapy or reunification therapy.
4. The Defendant further agrees in light of some of the recommendations of Dr. Goldstein that he will voluntarily complete an online parenting course and engage in individual therapy so as to learn to better deal with Mary and isolated incidents. The Defendant will provide proof on a quarterly basis that he is engaging in therapy and provide proof of completion of the parenting class.
5. The Defendant further agrees to advise the Plaintiff and forego parenting time if the Defendant is feeling breakthrough pain, which may lead to him feeling groggy, sleepy or disoriented, etc. The Plaintiff further agrees to cooperate with the Defendant to assure that parenting time resumes when possible when the Defendant is no longer feeling pain, etc.
6. The parties agree that the Defendant’s parenting time with Mary will be done in transitional steps as follows:
- a. The parties acknowledge that the Defendant’s parenting time with Mary has been that of every other Friday evening through Saturday supervised by Mary’s paternal aunt, Laurie at her home. The parenting time will continue through August 22, 2015.
- b. Commencing with the weekend of April 12, 2013, the Defendant’s every other weekend parenting time will be extended to that of two overnights supervised and shall take place at the paternal aunt’s home Laurie. If Laurie is not available, Scott and Gina will supervise the child and overnights will take place at their home. The parties acknowledge and agree that for the weekend of August 22, 2015, supervised parenting time will take place on Saturday, April 12, 2013 through Monday evening as agreed between the paternal aunt, Laurie and the Plaintiff herein. Once school commences, the Defendant’s parenting time will be every other weekend, unless stated otherwise herein, and supervised as stated above. Weekend parenting time will take place on Friday at 4:00pm, assuming that Mary has no activities after school, if not after her activities through Sunday at 3:30pm. The Defendant will pick up the child on Friday from the Plaintiff’s residence and the Plaintiff will pick up the child on Sundays from Laurie’s home or Gina’s home. The parties acknowledge that the Defendant will be entitled to pick up Mary unsupervised on Fridays and will assure that Mary is dropped off immediately to the supervisor’s home. The Defendant will assure that under no circumstances will the Defendant be under the influence of any alcohol, drugs, or medicine that may impair his ability to drive at the time.
- c. Pursuant to the recommendations of Dr. Goldstein the Defendant agrees that during his parenting time, he will leave at a reasonable time in the evening and sleep at his own home, while Mary sleeps at Laurie’s or Gina’s home. In addition, the Defendant agrees that he will allow Mary space or breaks during the day in order to allow Mary to decompress.
- d. In addition to the above parenting time, the parties agree that Mary may travel on vacation to Cape May on August 29, 2013 through September 2, 2013 with the Defendant and her paternal aunt and cousins. This will be supervised with the exception that on September 2, 2015, the Defendant and Mary will return together no later than 3:00pm with drop off to Plaintiff at her residence.
- e. The parties further agree to switch the Defendant’s weekend visitation from the weekend of December 4, 2013 to that of the weekend of December 11, 2013 and every other weekend thereafter as described above.
- f. The parties have also agreed to slowly begin implementing some unsupervised after school parenting time for the Defendant and Mary to take place every other weekend prior to the Plaintiff’s weekend visitation. The first unsupervised visitation will take place on August 18, the day after Mary’s birthday. The Defendant shall pick up the child at noon from the Plaintiff’s residence and return the child to the Plaintiff at 3:00pm. Thereafter, the Defendant will have unsupervised parenting time September 17, 2013, unless otherwise agreed, and every other week thereafter. Parenting time will commence after school at 4:00pm and no later than 6:30pm. All supervised parenting time will commence in New Jersey with the Defendant conducting drop off and pick up. The parties further agree to be flexible with the day and times taking into consideration that Mary may have extracurricular activities immediately after school, etc.
- g. The parties agreed that if all the visits above go without incident and Mary is adjusting to the circumstances as well as to the Defendant and parenting time, the parties agree that they will work towards implementing by early December one overnight every other weekend at the Defendant’s home. The overnights will initially take place with Mary and a cousin or friend being present to Mary adjust to the circumstances. The Defendant will assure that Mary has her own bed in light of her age. Once a handful of visits are completed at the Defendant’s home with a cousin or a friend and assuming that there are no incidents and Mary is progressing, then the Defendant may have one overnight every other weekend at his home unsupervised with the parties progressing said overnights to entire weekends.
7. With respect to the Christmas Holiday, the parties have agreed that the Defendant may have parenting time with Mary from Wednesday, December 23, 2013 after school through Christmas Eve at 9:00pm. The Defendant will pick up Mary on Wednesday and the Plaintiff will pick up Mary from the Defendant’s families home on Christmas Eve at 11:00pm.
8. The Defendant also agrees to cooperate with Mary and the Plaintiff regarding his parenting time. The Defendant acknowledges that there may be times when Mary may need a few hours or day, etc. to herself whereby she refuses to attend a parenting weekend with the Defendant. The Defendant has agreed to be flexible and forego some parenting time for the day or weekend to assure that Mary does not regress. It is the parties’ intent to allow for make-up time for the Defendant acknowledging that said make-up time may not be equivalent to the time lost to the exact hour, but the days should be equivalent. Additionally, there will be no make-up time for the Defendant in the event the child is sick to the extent that she requires a doctor visit and a note is provided and/or for vacations or holidays.
9. The Defendant shall be entitled to have phone contact with Mary. The parties have agreed that Mary will call out to the Defendant at about 6:30pm on Tuesdays and the Defendant will call out to Mary on Thursdays at about 6:30pm.
10. The Plaintiff shall keep the Defendant informed as to all major medical and school related issues pertaining to the child.
Please contact my law firm if you are facing a child custody dispute.