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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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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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Child Abuse Allegations and the Divorce Process

Child Abuse Allegations and the Divorce Process

Dealing With Child Abuse Allegations in Divorce Child abuse allegations affect the whole family, especially in divorce. In particular, child abuse will affect custody. The judge will consider many factors when deciding on custody; abuse or neglect allegations would be at the top of that list. If the allegations are supported by signs of physical trauma, psychological problems such as parental alienation, poor social bonds, or aggressive behavior, custody is likely to be a disputed issue in the divorce. Because custody will affect parenting time and child support, it is easy to how disruptive a child abuse allegation can be to a divorce case. The courts want to make a decision that is in the best interests of the child. This doesn’t necessarily mean the abusive parent won’t get to see the child. It does mean, however, that his or her contact with the child may be limited and supervised for some period of time. The court can order that all parenting time be in public places and can prohibit overnights. The court can also require the abusive parent to attend counseling sessions or other mental health services. Sometimes, a parent will have to complete this requirement before having parenting time. The court will usually try to find a way to allow limited visitation for a well-meaning and motivated parent while still protecting the child. Seek Advice and Guidance Child abuse allegations can affect many areas of your divorce. Such an allegation may affect custody, parenting time, and child support. It could also involve the Division of Child Protection and Permanency, which is New Jersey’s child welfare agency. Such an investigation could quickly complicate a divorce. You may want to speak with an experienced New Jersey family law attorney about your case. Whether the allegations are against you or the other parent, you need an advocate on your side. You should handle your case carefully to protect your rights as well as your child’s rights. The final custody determination needs to benefit the child both short-term and long-term. An attorney can advise you of your rights and help you make a request for custody that looks out for your child’s best interests now and in the future. And, if the court requires you to do certain things to have visitation with your child, an attorney can help make sure those orders are fair and reasonable.   Are you going...

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How Can Residential Custody Be Changed If My Child Wants to Live With Me?

How Can Residential Custody Be Changed If My Child Wants to Live With Me?

Modifying Residential Custody A residential custody determination can significantly impact a child’s life. Who they will live with most of the time is an important decision in any divorce or separation case. Sometimes, a child will have a clear spoken preference for the parent with whom they wish to live. You should take your child’s preferences seriously, but know that they may not affect the outcome of the case. If you are not the primary custodial parent, you may be able to modify the custody order to reflect your child’s wishes to live with you. Doing so may be a challenge, so here is some information to give you a basic idea of how custody is determined and when it can change. There are many factors the court considers when determining custody. The court will consider which parent is best able to meet the needs of the child when deciding on custody. The court will pay particular attention to factors such the relationship between the child and parent and the ability of each parent to provide for the child. If you child has a clear preference to live with you, you may be able to seek a custody modification. Modifications can be made at any point if the existing custody order is no longer in the best interests of the child. A child’s preference may be considered if he or she is old or mature enough to make a thoughtful decision. Many consider 14 years of age to be old enough to make such a decision, but there are no strict guidelines on this. Though some judges may consider a child’s wishes, not all will. And, even if a child’s wishes are considered, they may not be the deciding factor. Meeting the Child’s Needs Any custody decision the court makes will be based on meeting the child’s needs and protecting his or her best interests. If the child’s preferred residence would not be in his or her best interests, it will not be a deciding factor. Consult with an experienced New Jersey child custody attorney if you want to modify residential custody. You will benefit from securing the assistance of an attorney to demonstrate to the court that the custody arrangement your child prefers is indeed in his or her best interests. An attorney can help you navigate the custody action process while keeping your child’s wishes in mind....

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Structuring Parenting Time

Structuring Parenting Time

Parenting Time Tables Parenting time is the residential time you spend with your child. Structuring parenting time carefully is very important because it will have a big impact on your child’s life. The parenting time schedule will affect your child’s relationships with you and the other parent. Consequently, the quality and quantity of time you each spend with your child should be carefully planned. Parenting time should be structured in a way that supports the parent-child relationship. A schedule that promotes healthy routine interactions with both parents may be most beneficial. Typically, the child will live with the primary custodial parent the majority of the time. The non-custodial parent may have parenting time periodically with the child. For example, a child may spend their weekdays with one parent while spending weekends with the other. This schedule is usually least disruptive to the school week. Both courts and researchers see frequent contact with both parents as ideal for healthy childhood development. Making this work despite work and school schedules can be difficult. This is even truer if you do not live near the other parent. If a weekly schedule won’t work, parenting time can be structured in other ways. The court may grant the non-custodial parent parenting time on certain school breaks, birthdays, and holidays. If desired, the parents can alternate these special occasions. For example, the father may have the child for Christmas in odd years and the mother may have the child for Christmas in even years. Structuring parenting time is hard to do. Few issues raise as much conflict in divorce cases. It can be hard for parents to negotiate a schedule that looks out for the best interests of their child. You may need to look at several factors to do so. Make sure you consider travel-time, work and school schedules, and your child’s wishes. If you cannot agree on matters, you may need to mediate or go to court. In this case, you may want speak with an attorney. If you do reach an agreement, you should have an attorney prepare a formal document for you to solemnify your agreement. Help Is Available A skilled child custody attorney can help you structure your parenting time in a way that works for you and your family. An attorney can help ensure the parenting time schedule is truly in your child’s best interests. He or she can...

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Defining Success on Your Own Terms and Working Towards It

In this chapter, we touched on common practices that parents and therapists can use to reverse or at least stop the damage caused by parental alienation. We also explored some common obstacles that confront families going through this process. Frustratingly, research science remains in its infancy in terms of being able to explain how and why parental alienation occurs and what strategies and tactics should be deployed, under what conditions, to fix things. The good news is that some programs – specifically, Dr. Warshak’s Family Bridges – have shown promise in reversing damage from even severe alienation. Nevertheless, identifying and solving the knot of problems is neither simple, nor intuitive. Strategies that seem like they should make the situations better – such as cooperating as much as possible with the other parent or “telling the truth and nothing but the truth” to your child can prove surprisingly anemic or even make the situation worse. The following principles emerge from this discussion: • Educate yourself. Read blogs, articles and books (like this one) on the topic of parental alienation, so you understand the background and the relevant science and approaches. • Find great people to support you. For instance, experienced attorneys and therapists who have a successful track record helping targeted parents can offer critical insight and step-by-step ways of engaging your problems. • Self-manage as well as you can. Believe it or not, you can emerge from this experience feeling hopeful about the future and content about your relationship with your child. In our next section, we will explore strategies that you can use immediately to make your life better, while you are working to resolve your alienation case. For skillful, experienced assistance handling your Parental Alienation case, call the Williams Law Group, LLC immediately at (908)...

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