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Allison Williams Williams Law Group Family Law, Divorce, Custody & Support
As an attorney, it has always been, and will always be, about helping people. I'm passionate about my clients and I aggressively represent them. The Williams Law Group uses ethical means to create winning strategies. If you have a legal issue, we’d like to hear your message!
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What Is the Difference Between Abuse and Neglect?

What Is the Difference Between Abuse and Neglect?

Mistreating Children   Child abuse and child neglect both threaten the health, safety, and development of a child, and both can result in a child welfare case. It is important to understand the differences between child abuse and child neglect. State agencies need to know specifically how the child was mistreated to be able to put in place the right protections following an investigation. Child abuse and child neglect are both detrimental to a child but are caused by different actions and behaviors.   Child Abuse   Child abuse is defined as a parent or caregiver harming a child or putting a child at risk of harm. Abuse can be physical, emotional, or sexual in nature. Any of these types of abuse cause psychological harm to a child. Examples of abuse include inflicting physical injury on a child, involving a child in a sexual act, or emotionally abusing a child. Abuse can happen in one incident or be the result of a pattern of ongoing acts and behaviors from the caregiver. Signs of child abuse can include bruises and other injuries, a child’s inappropriate knowledge about sexual behavior, or withdrawal from social interaction.   Child Neglect   Child neglect, while equally harmful to a child, differs from child abuse in that it is typically caused by a lack of action on the part of the caregiver. Neglect is the failure of a parent or caregiver to provide proper care for a child. Proper care includes providing adequate shelter, clothing, food, medical care, supervision, and education. Neglect is often a result of ongoing mistreatment but can also occur from one unattended instance. Signs of neglect include poor hygiene, malnutrition, unattended to medical problems, or fatigue. Understanding the differences between the two is important to be able to properly investigate a case and effectively protect a child from the mistreatment. Consult with an experienced New Jersey child welfare attorney if you have questions about child abuse or child neglect. These are serious concerns for any parent or caretaker, and it is important to understand your rights with regard to the safety of your child. An attorney can advise you of those rights and help you take the right steps to ensure your child is in safe hands.   Do you have questions about protecting your child’s best interests? If so, Williams Law Group, LLC can help you and your family obtain a...

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The Relationship Between Child Custody and Child Support

The Relationship Between Child Custody and Child Support

Caring and Providing for Your Child   New Jersey child support is financial support paid by one parent to another. Child support is meant to cover a wide range of costs of raising a child, including food, clothing, and medical insurance. Both parents have a duty to financially support their child, regardless of custody. New Jersey child support guidelines rely on a number of factors to calculate basic child support. Parental gross income, custody, the parenting time division, and the specific needs of the child may be considered. Typically, the primary custodial parent receives the child support. This is the parent with whom the child lives (the parent with physical custody). This parent is responsible for the day-to-day care and custody of the child and thus carries the heaviest financial burden. The percentage of time you spend with your child will be a major factor in calculating child support. The amount of support a child needs will be determined by the parental incomes and whether any other children require support as well. Once that base figure is calculated, the responsibility is divided according to the parenting time percentage. For example, if you have your child 90% of the time, you will need most of the child support amount. This doesn’t mean that you will need to pay the other parent a minimal amount of child support to reflect the time they spend with your child. It just means that your support amount may be reduced according to the parenting time division. If the parenting time ratio is more equal, the support amount will reflect that. Child support may be minimal if both parents have the child equal amounts of time and have similar incomes. Child support isn’t entirely dependent on custody. You have a duty to financially provide for your child no matter your rights to spend time with or contact him or her. You may still have to pay child support even if your parental rights have been terminated. And you cannot refuse parenting time if the other parent fails to pay child support. You will have to take action to enforce your child support order, but this won’t affect custody. Consult with an experienced New Jersey child custody attorney if you have questions about how parenting time can affect child support. It is important to ensure your child support order is sufficient to provide for the basic needs...

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Do I Need an Attorney to Attend My Child Welfare Hearing?

Do I Need an Attorney to Attend My Child Welfare Hearing?

An Important Day in Court   Being involved in a child welfare case can be a stressful and frightening experience. Your custody rights and your right to see your child may be on the line. While you are permitted to represent yourself in your child welfare case, it may be a mistake to do so. You need an advocate when facing allegations of child abuse or neglect. If you have an upcoming child welfare hearing, you may be wondering how you can prepare. The child welfare case process is complicated, and New Jersey’s child welfare agency, the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) can be intimidating to handle. The agency’s responsibility lies in protecting the child, and this sometimes means the parent’s wishes aren’t considered. If your child must attend the hearing, he or she may be appointed a law guardian. The law guardian will represent your child in the case and so cannot represent you because that would be a conflict of interest. And, while you may receive information about your case and the hearing from the DCP&P, the judge will only consider the facts before them and make decisions that are in the best interests of the child. You may need an attorney to help you articulate your side of the story and your wishes. If you question the evidence against you, an attorney can help you obtain certain documents that you do not have access to, which could help you challenge findings from a child protection investigation. An attorney can also help ensure that any requirements the court subjects you to, such as attending drug treatment or counseling, are reasonable, relevant, and feasible for you to meet. Consult with an experienced New Jersey child welfare attorney if you have an upcoming child welfare hearing. It is never a good idea to try to defend your child welfare case on your own. It’s also rarely beneficial to hire a matrimonial or family law attorney who advertises that they handle DYFS cases, but spends most of their time getting people divorced. A skilled attorney who has experience with child welfare cases can help you navigate the hearing process and help ensure you are informed and involved along the way. With so much at stake, it is vital you seek experienced representation to help prepare you for your child welfare hearing.   Do you have an upcoming child...

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When Can You Ask for Temporary Emergency Custody?

When Can You Ask for Temporary Emergency Custody?

Immediate Protection in Serious Situations   If you suspect your child is in imminent danger, your instinct is to protect him or her at all costs. In some situations, it is necessary to take your child to a safer environment, away from the harmful parent. If you share custody or if the other parent has parenting time rights, however, you may not be able to take your child without permission or a court order. A court order can grant you temporary emergency custody. This will allow you to take your child somewhere safe or withhold access from the other parent, without the risk of violating any of the other parent’s rights.   Temporary Emergency Custody Orders   Temporary emergency custody orders can be obtained in emergency situations where your child’s safety is at stake. If you need to get emergency sole custody of your child in order to protect him or her from imminent danger, you should consult with an attorney. You will need to prove to the judge that your child is in imminent or immediate danger of abuse or mistreatment. An order for temporary custody can last just a few days or long enough to have a final hearing on the case. After a final custody hearing, the other parent may be allowed to see your child again, but they may need to complete certain steps, such as drug treatment or counseling, first. The visits may also need to be supervised for a period of time. You may also get temporary custody if you have been the victim of abuse and have a temporary restraining order against the abuser. This would allow you to take your child with you and prevent the abuser from contacting you or your child. The abuser may be allowed parenting time once a permanent restraining order is issued or even upon immediate appeal of the temporary restraining order’s limits on access to the child. In any case, call 911 if your child is in immediate danger, and then call an attorney. Protecting your child appropriately requires understanding how great the risk of danger is and finding the right advocate for your situation. Consult with an experienced New Jersey child custody attorney if you have questions about temporary emergency custody. The process to get an emergency custody order can be complex, and it moves quickly. An attorney can help you navigate the process...

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How a Law Guardian Can Protect Your Child

How a Law Guardian Can Protect Your Child

Law Guardians: The Child’s Defender   A guardian is someone who protects and advocates for someone who is unable to protect themselves either physically or in legal situations. In court, a child may need a guardian to ensure his or her voice is heard. In certain family law cases, it is necessary for a child to have a law guardian who can voice the child’s wishes and protect his or her interests independent of the parents’. Law guardians are appointed in cases involving child abuse or neglect or when parental rights may be terminated. A law guardian may be appointed for one or several children in the same action. Typically, a law guardian will visit a child at home or at school and may be accompanied by an investigator. The law guardian and investigator will ask the child questions and talk with him or her about the case. This helps prepare the child for court. They are also gathering relevant information about the case. A law guardian may also coordinate expert evaluations of the child, such as mental health evaluations. The law guardian does not make decisions for the child. He or she will serve as your child’s attorney in the matter. A law guardian does not represent or work for either of the parents or the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P), New Jersey’s child welfare agency. The law guardian’s sole allegiance is with the child, though law guardians tend to favor either the Division’s or the parents’ position. He or she will work to understand the child’s wishes, but must present both the child’s wishes and the child’s interests to the Court. These wishes will be communicated to the court independent of the parent’s wishes. An experienced and skilled law guardian will help the child understand the court process, express the child’s wishes, and advocate on the child’s behalf in court. If the court has appointed a law guardian to represent your child in a case, you may want to consult with an experienced New Jersey child welfare and child custody attorney. While the law guardian will serve as your child’s advocate, you may need an advocate, too, especially if you are facing allegations of abuse or your parental rights are at stake. A child welfare attorney can assert your rights in court and help you defend allegations of abuse or neglect. An attorney can also...

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Disproving Child Abuse Allegations: Where to Look for Help

Disproving Child Abuse Allegations: Where to Look for Help

Fighting Allegations   If you find yourself facing allegations of child abuse and an associated child welfare case, you may be panicking. There is a lot at stake. Depending on the findings, you could lose the right to live with or contact your child if you don’t prevail at your hearing. Unfortunately, not all allegations of abuse are valid, and not all parents deserve to lose their rights. Disproving child abuse allegations is complex and requires detailed knowledge of the court, New Jersey’s child welfare agency, and how to challenge evidence. You should definitely enlist some credible help when facing such costly allegations. If you are dealing with the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P), you will want to find an attorney who has years of experience working with the child welfare system in New Jersey. Understand that there could be some surprises and setbacks during this process. It is hard to challenge findings that are being withheld from you or present convincing evidence in your favor. Facing and then overcoming unexpected hurdles may take a lot out of you at a time when you should be focused on your child. Attorneys with experience disproving child abuse allegations will know how to identify and challenge weak evidence or questionable findings. There are many rules about who can submit what evidence and how it can be used. And, in child abuse cases, the evidence can be minimal or inconclusive. An attorney can also do what it takes to present you in a favorable light. Trying to represent yourself in such an action can make it very difficult to do this. This is best accomplished by selecting effective testimony and records that demonstrate your credibility. When the system seems to be against you, the help a skilled child welfare attorney can provide will be invaluable. You will also want to find an attorney who believes in you and wants to see your rights as a parent protected. Your rights as a parent are among your most important rights. To best protect those rights, it is essential to find an attorney who knows how to disprove allegations as serious as child abuse.   Are you facing allegations of child abuse? Williams Law Group, LLC can advocate on your behalf to ensure your rights are defended. Located in Union, New Jersey, Williams Law Group, LLC provides compassionate and dedicated legal services to...

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Can I Have Parental Rights Without Custody?

Can I Have Parental Rights Without Custody?

Custody vs. Rights   Custody grants parents certain rights regarding their children. These rights are specific. You can still have certain parental rights even if you don’t have custody. The rights that custody can grant you have to do with where your child lives and who makes important decisions regarding him or her. Understanding your rights as a parent without custody requires a quick look at what rights custody does grant. Having physical or legal custody of your child means you have more rights than a parent without custody has. Physical custody gives you the right to have your child live with you. This also means you are responsible for your child while he or she is in your care. Legal custody gives you the right to make major decisions about your child’s health, education, or upbringing. Both types of custody can be sole or shared by the parents. Custody is awarded to the parent or parents who can best provide for and meet the needs of the child. In many cases, a parent without physical or legal custody will still have the right to an appropriate amount of parenting time. This is the time you get visit with your child. The custodial parent does not have the right to interfere with your parenting time, even if you fail to pay child support. It is vitally important you exercise and defend the right to parenting time in order to be a positive presence in your child’s life but also ensure your rights won’t be taken away. Your parental rights can be limited if you fail to exercise parenting time, and having them reinstated is not always easy. You may also lose the right to access any information about your child. Not having custody does not necessarily mean your parental rights have been terminated.   Fight for Your Parental Rights   Your parental rights are important. If you don’t have custody but would like to learn about your parental rights, consult with an experienced New Jersey child custody attorney. If you have parental rights, it is very important that you exercise them. Learning about the full extent of your rights is the best way to do that. An attorney can advise you of your rights as a parent and help you protect them.   Do you have questions about child custody in New Jersey? Williams Law Group, LLC is here...

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Are Guardian ad Litems Different From Law Guardians?

Are Guardian ad Litems Different From Law Guardians?

Protecting the Child Guardian ad litems and law guardians are legal representatives who protect a child’s best interests in lawsuits. In New Jersey, these two similar roles serve different purposes. Though both guardian ad litems and law guardians represent the child’s best interests in a suit, they provide different types of representation and support appropriate for different circumstances. Law Guardians Law guardians are attorneys for the child. They are assigned in child welfare cases involving child abuse, neglect, or termination of parental rights. They can also be appointed in child custody cases. A child has a right to an attorney in child abuse and child welfare cases. Law guardians are attorneys whom the court will appoint to represent the child in these types of cases. The parent of the child does not need to ask the court to appoint an attorney in child welfare cases, unlike in child custody cases that do not involve the State. Law guardians represent the child’s interests and not the parents’, although those interests may be aligned. They help protect the child’s best interests during the case by helping the child to communicate his or her wishes to the court. They will also help the child understand the court process, their rights, their case, and provide legal advice accordingly. Law guardians typically work with an investigator and will meet with the child individually at home or school. Guardian ad Litems A guardian ad litem serves as an advocate for a child in a lawsuit. Guardian ad litems, also called GALs, are typically appointed in divorce and custody cases, though they may from time to time be appointed in a child abuse or child welfare case. GALs can also represent the interests of adults who are incapacitated. GALs serve to protect the child’s best interests, but unlike law guardians, GALs provide services to the court. They do not represent the interests of the parents. Parents can ask the court to appoint a GAL in cases where custody and parenting time matters are highly contested. The court can also decide to appoint a GAL independently. GALs will review reports and documents, conduct interviews and observations, and put their findings in a written report. The report will provide recommendations to the court. GALs aren’t particularly common in New Jersey, but they are very helpful in high-conflict custody cases. Law guardians and GALs advocate for the child in...

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The Differences Between Legal Custody and Physical Custody

The Differences Between Legal Custody and Physical Custody

Child Custody in New Jersey New Jersey recognizes two types of custody: legal custody and physical custody. Each type of custody has certain implications for the rights of the parents. The court may grant a parent certain rights but not others. And, the parents may share some or all of the rights. Knowing the differences between these rights can help you make the best decisions for you and your child. Legal Custody Legal custody gives parents decision-making rights. A parent with legal custody has the authority to make major decisions for the child. For example, a parent with legal custody can decide where the child goes to school. Parents can have either sole or joint legal custody. Physical Custody Physical custody gives parents residential rights. This is also sometimes called residential custody. A parent with physical custody has the right to have the child live with them. They get to take care of the child on a day-to-day basis. A parent with physical custody often has legal custody as well. Physical custody can be sole or jointly shared. A child may live with the primary custodial parent the majority of the time or divide time evenly between both parents. The court may grant a parent visitation rights instead of physical custody. This gives them the right to spend time with the child. How Is Custody Decided? New Jersey recognizes both parents as being equal candidates for custody. The courts will make a custody determination that is in the best interests of the child. The court will look at many factors before deciding. For example, the court may consider how strong the existing parent-child relationships are. Above all, the court will make sure the parent(s) given custody will be able to meet the child’s needs. A custody determination has many legal implications. If you are involved in a custody case, you may want to speak with an attorney. Custody cases can be complex, and a lot is at stake. You want what is best for your child, but knowing what is best and how to get that can be difficult. An experienced New Jersey child custody can advocate on your behalf in court. He or she can also protect your rights and your child’s welfare.   If you have questions about New Jersey custody, Williams Law Group, LLC is here to help. The experienced attorneys at Williams Law Group, LLC...

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How Can an Attorney Help Me Regain Custody?

How Can an Attorney Help Me Regain Custody?

The Fight for Custody Trying to regain custody of your child can make you feel like you are fighting an uphill battle. With so much at stake, you want to do everything you can to regain custody of your child, and that is understandable. If you’ve lost custody or are involved in a divorce case where custody is a disputed issue, you may be looking for advice. Many parents face significant adversity when trying to have custody returned to them. Working with an experienced New Jersey custody attorney can help increase your chances of success. For now, reviewing the information below will give you a brief idea of what you should expect. Regain Custody and Your Rights Custody cases in New Jersey can be complex. The law recognizes that it is important for both parents to be a part of a child’s life. Regardless, a parent can easily lose custody if there are allegations of child abuse or neglect or if that parent is unable to meet the child’s needs. If you are in this situation, know that there is help out there. No parent should have to fight alone for custody of their child. You may need help in navigating the New Jersey custody process. An attorney can evaluate your case and explain your rights as a parent seeking to regain custody. An attorney can also skillfully present your argument to the court and other agencies involved. Most importantly, an attorney can help demonstrate that it is in your child’s best interests for you to have custody. The Need for Advocacy Whether you are dealing with just a custody case or with custody as a part of a divorce or family law action, you should have an advocate. Custody matters should never be faced alone. This may be one of the most important fights of your life. If you want to regain custody of your child, you should speak with an experienced New Jersey custody and child welfare attorney right away. You will need to demonstrate to the court that the custody arrangement you propose is truly in the best interests of your child. There may be other agencies you need to work with as well. An attorney can help you navigate the custody action process with confidence knowing your rights are protected.   Are you trying to regain custody of your child? If so, Williams Law Group,...

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