New Jersey Appeals Court Upholds Visitation Rights of Father After Three-Year Separation

The right to raise and maintain a relationship with one’s child is a fundamental right. In a recent case before the New Jersey Appellate Division, the court upheld the visitation rights of a father who had not seen his daughter in three years after an allegation of abuse. The mother and father in the case had divorced when the daughter was three years old. According to a settlement agreement, the mother was designated as the parent of primary residential custody, and the father was afforded parenting time.

After the divorce, the mother and father had a difficult relationship and filed several post-judgment motions concerning the father’s parenting time. At some point, there was an allegation that the father had inappropriately touched his daughter. However, law enforcement and the Division of Child Protection and Permanency did not find evidence to support the allegation. The mother later filed a motion for the recusal of the family judge. When the judge then scheduled a hearing, she requested an adjournment and then argued that she had appealed the decision on the motion for recusal and could not appear because the appeal was pending. The mother failed to appear for a scheduled hearing, and in her absence, the judge granted the father supervised parenting time. The court reasoned that the mother’s appeal was deficient because there was no decision on the motion, and thus, her failure to appear was unexcused. The father had filed a request for parenting time more than two years prior. The judge noted that the father and daughter had not seen each other in three years and found that the mother was purposely alienating the daughter from the father.

The mother appealed the decision, and the appeals court upheld the judge’s decision to grant the father supervised parenting time. The court reasoned that New Jersey law “favors visitation” and the right to visitation “is strong and compelling.” The court noted that the allegation against the father was not found to have merit by law enforcement or the courts, and the father and daughter had not seen each other in three years and thus upheld the judge’s decision.

Visitation Rights in New Jersey

Parents have the right to raise their children and maintain a relationship with their children. New Jersey courts have recognized that this right is protected by the New Jersey Constitution and the United States Constitution. Children also have a right to visit with their parents after they have been separated from their parents. New Jersey law favors the visitation of parents with their children. However, there are limits to the right of visitation, including the State’s responsibility to protect children from physical and psychological harm. If a parent is unfit or the parent causes the child physical or psychological harm, the parent’s rights may be limited or even terminated.

Contact a New Jersey Family Law Attorney for Immediate Assistance

If you are going through a New Jersey divorce, or have questions about the many attendant issues surrounding divorces, such as child custody and visitation, give the Law Office of Jeffrey R. Brown a call. Attorney Brown is a committed divorce lawyer with extensive experience helping clients deal with the various legal issues they face. To learn more and to schedule a free consultation, you can reach Attorney Brown at 732-613-0066 today.

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