The Fallout of Missing a Custody Hearing
Skipping a Child Custody Hearing in New Jersey Means Losing the Opportunity to State Your Case as The Judge Proceeds With the Available Evidence.
A New Jersey child custody hearing is an opportunity for both parents of a child to present a case for their legal and residential custodial rights. A custody hearing is when both legal and logistical elements of a co-parenting situation are resolved, such as who will have rights to make decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, medical care, education, etc; who the child will live with, and how much of a presence the non-residential parent will have in the child’s life; and what type of visitation, or parenting time arrangement, will exist. These decisions are hugely important to the child’s future outcomes, as well as that of their family. As such, it is important that both parents have an opportunity to argue their case in a child custody hearing. So what happens if you or your child’s other parent misses a child custody hearing?
The Impact of a Missed Child Custody Hearing in New Jersey
In New Jersey, if a parent misses a child custody hearing in family court, they miss the opportunity to present their case for custody of the child. The hearing will go on – in most cases, it will not be rescheduled due to one party’s unreported absence – and the judge will only hear the evidence provided by the person present.
Are Parenting Rights at Risk for Not Showing to a Custody Hearing?
If a parent does not show up at their child custody hearing, it does not mean that they rescind their parenting rights or desire for legal or residential custody. However, their desires cannot be known by the judge. As such, the judge will only hear evidence from the party that is in attendance. Basically, the parent forfeits their right to prove a case for custody, and the judge’s determination will largely be based on the evidence presented by the child’s other parent. If that parent argues for shared custody, you’re in luck. But if they present evidence to support a bid for sole custody, and you are not there to provide evidence to the contrary, you may be in for custodial hurdles that are difficult to overcome. Absence from a custody hearing seriously diminishes your credibility.
Steps to Request an Adjournment in a Child Custody Case
If there is no way you can make your child custody hearing, it does not mean that your child’s future will inevitably be in the hands of your ex and the testimony they give. Child custody hearings can be rescheduled. However, it is the prerogative of the judge to decide on a case-by-case basis. If you cannot make a child custody hearing, you must request an adjournment as soon as possible. Your child custody attorney can help you expedite this request; in some cases, a phone call is sufficient, though not usually; in others, a formal request for adjournment must be filed in due time. Or, you may need to file a stipulation that is signed by the other parent. There must be legitimate cause for a reschedule request, as this is a serious ask.
Preparation is the Best Strategy to Face a Custody Hearing
The best way to ensure that you are at your custody hearing to present a strong case for sole or shared custody is to prepare. This happens in many ways. Let your employer and other applicable parties know well in advance of your court date that you will be unavailable at the scheduled time. Ensure your calendar is free and all conflicting outstanding appointments are cleared or rescheduled. Devote your entire day to the hearing; give yourself a huge buffer to ensure that you can overcome unforeseen circumstances and arrive on time, including traffic, car troubles, etc. Plan to arrive at least a half hour before your hearing, and if you are driving, give yourself an additional 15 minutes for parking.
How Can A Lawyer Help if You Missed Your Child Custody Hearing in NJ?
In addition to being invaluable legal counsel for this extremely important passage, a child support attorney can help calm your nerves by expediting mitigating processes when unforeseen conflicts arise. From filing a motion for adjournment to seeking stipulation from your child’s other parent to helping you gather important evidence and documentation for your case, a child custody attorney can mean the difference between sole and no custody.
Our team at The Montanari Law Group has proudly served countless parents in Passaic County towns and cities such as Montclair, Hawthorne, Totowa, Haledon, Wayne, Paterson, Montvale, and Little Falls, helping them play a central role in their children’s futures. Contact us today at (973) 233-4396 to learn how we can represent you in your child custody hearing today.