Family Law

Family law is a rather broad practice area, encompassing marriage, divorce, child custody, adoption, paternity, and other matters related to the family structure. The Law Offices of Daniel Santiago can help you address such issues as well as issues pertaining to domestic violence and child abuse. Here are some areas of family law that we may help you with:

New Jersey Adoption Laws

Laws regulating the adoption process in New Jersey including who may adopt a child, who may be adopted, how to complete an adult adoption, and more. Laws regulating the adoption process often vary quite a bit from one state to the next, with just a handful of states signing onto the Uniform Adoption Act. According to New Jersey adoption laws, anyone may be adopted (but must be 10 years younger than the petitioner) and a six-month home residency is required prior to finalization of the adoption.

Prior to placement, prospective parents will be provided with as much information about the child’s development and characteristics as is available. This information typically includes medical history, personality, complete medical histories of the child’s birth parents (if available), drugs and medications taken by the birth mother during pregnancy; and any other relevant health issues.

In order to become a foster parent (short-term “adoption”), you must be 18 or older, in reasonable health, and you must prove that you can provide the child with a safe home environment. In many ways, the laws surrounding foster care are identical to those regarding adoption.

If you need help with your adoption, call our office today at 973-777-9700

New Jersey Divorce Requirements

Divorce is an unfortunate occurrence for many married couples and families. Here’s an overview of New Jersey divorce laws including residency requirements, grounds for divorce and waiting periods:

Just as there are laws defining how each state defines a valid marriage, states also have laws defining the legal requirements for divorce (which are referred to as “grounds” for divorce). All states now have some form of no-fault grounds for divorce, which means that neither party must shoulder the blame (or liability) for the break-up of the marriage in order to file for a divorce.

In New Jersey, the legal requirements for divorce are similar to those in other states. For example, to file for a New Jersey divorce, generally at least one of the parties must be a New Jersey resident. To file for a no-fault divorce, the couple must be separated (living separately and apart) for at least 18 months before either party may file for divorce.

If you need help with your divorce call our office today at 973-777-9700 and talk to an experienced divorce attorney.

New Jersey Child Custody Laws

New Jersey child custody laws allow parents and guardians the option of joint custody and recognize grandparent visitation rights. New Jersey, along with all other U.S. states and the District of Columbia, has adopted the Uniform Child Custody Act (UCCA), which helps prevent interstate child custody conflicts. In general, child custody laws dictate whether parents may seek joint custody, rules for visitation, and the procedures for ordering custody. According to New Jersey child custody laws, grandparents may legally request visitation rights. New Jersey courts consider a number of factors when determining child custody orders, but primarily consider the best interests of the child. If the parents are seeking joint custody, the court will examine their ability to agree, communicate, and cooperate with regard to the child. Also, any history of domestic violence will figure prominently in any custody decision. Other factors considered when determining child custody in New Jersey may include (but are not limited to): Interaction of the child with its parents and siblings Preference of the child (if 12 or older) Stability of the home environment Fitness of parents Parents’ employment responsibilities.

Child custody is a very serious matter. Sometimes parents are able to work out an amicable agreement that puts the child’s needs first, but divorce proceedings often involve conflict. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to hire a child custody attorney (or a divorce lawyer with child custody experience).

Call our office today at 973-777-9700 and we will further assist you.

New Jersey Child Abuse Laws

If you or someone you know is the victim of child abuse, contact the New Jersey Child Abuse Hotline at 1-877-NJ-ABUSE (1-877-652-2873).

Child abuse is charged as a serious crime in all states, including New Jersey. The crime includes acts of exploitation, neglect, abandonment, willful isolation from social contact, and sexual abuse, in addition to physical abuse. Physical signs of child abuse may include everything from cigarette or rope burns to unexplained bruises on the face or other parts of the body (often forming clusters in certain areas). Behavioral indicators may include withdrawal or aggressiveness toward others.

New Jersey law requires anyone who has witnessed an act of child abuse (or has reason to believe it has occurred) to contact the state’s Division of Youth and Family Services.

Mandatory reporters of child abuse typically include teachers, clergy members, doctors, dentists, social workers, and other adults who have regular access to children. New Jersey’s Department of Children and Families provides details about how to report an instance of child abuse.

New Jersey Child Support Guidelines

Child support is a parent’s court-ordered payment to help with the costs of raising a child. In New Jersey, child support obligations normally last until the child turns 18 years old, but can continue up past that age if the child is still in high school or has certain physical or mental conditions that require extra support.

How to Request Child Support in New Jersey

There are several ways a parent can receive child support in New Jersey. One way is for both parents to agree and ask a judge to approve a support order in a civil case such as a divorce or other family law proceeding. However, the majority of cases start by completing an application for child support and submitting it to the local Child Support Agency (CSA). The CSA can help a parent locate the noncustodial parent; establish paternity for children born outside of marriage; establish support obligations, collection and distribution of support; and enforcement of support obligations through the Probation Division. Calculation of Support is based upon the reasonable needs of the child and upon the reasonable ability of the parent to pay. The court determines child support amounts using a set of support guidelines created by the New Jersey legislature. A judge will calculate the child support formula using a somewhat complicated formula. The most significant factors are each parent’s income, daycare expenses, the cost of medical insurance, any social security benefits the child may be receiving, and the living arrangements of the children. A judge will automatically review the support amount every three years.

Call our office today at 973-777-9700 and get the legal assistance you need.