Meeting halfway

How do you and your co-parent arrange parenting time exchanges?   Does one parent do all the driving?   Do you share the driving?   The Court recently opined that parents should meet halfway!

In the recently decided (Sept. 5th) Appellate Division case of Devorak v. Devorak, a Father appealed a trial court’s decision that required the parties to share the driving responsibilities to facilitate his alternate weekend parenting time with their 9 year old child.

Father filed a motion at the trial court level seeking, among other things, an Order compelling the parties to equally share the driving responsibilities relative to his parenting time.  Mother filed a cross-motion compelling Father to “be required to do all the traveling in connection with his visitations.”

The deadlock arose from both parties’ history of moving between residences following their divorce.  At the time of their divorce, both parties lived in Woodbridge.  As per the parties’ Agreement, Father did the pick-ups and drop-offs for his alternate weekend parenting time.

However, Mother then moved to New York City and the parties entered into a consent order wherein Father agreed to continue doing all transportation relative to his parenting time, pending Mother’s relocation back to New Jersey.  Unfortunately, the parties’ consent order did not set forth a specific plan as to what the parties’ transportation arrangements would be after Mother effectuated her move, nor did it delineate a distance from Father or area wherein she would move.

Eventually, Mother moved to Roseland, New Jersey and Father moved to Ewing, New Jersey, which is approximately 1 hour and 35 minutes away (per GoogleMaps).

The Court found that Father “established a significant change in circumstances warranting a modification of a prior order regarding pick up and drop off….”. The trial Court also stated that “it is fair and equitable [for the parties] to share in the transportation responsibility” and ordered the parties to “agree to a pick up and drop off location equidistant between their current residences.”

On appeal, Mother argued that the trial court made an error in entering an order that modified the parties’ divorce agreement, and that Father did not have to pay alimony and paid “modest” child support in exchange for having agreed to do all the driving for parenting time. Mother also argued that she had to do all of the transportation for her other child from her subsequent marriage in support of her position.  The Appellate Court was unimpressed with Mother’s arguments, and affirmed the trial court’s findings that the parties should MEET HALFWAY.

Would you give your ex a spare key?

Think about this… whether you like it or not, you are “forced” to trust your ex with your child.  If you coparent a child, your child goes back and forth between you and your ex from day to day or week to week.  Your child is (likely) the most precious element in your life.  However, do you TRUST your ex?  The person you had a child with?

Would you give your ex a spare key to your home?

My twins’ other coparent has our key and we (my spouse and I) have hers.  We’ve never used hers.  She uses ours dauly.  The message this sends our 4-year-olds is that home is home whether it is Mama’s house or Mommy’s house.  It’s just their family’s house.  This solution isn’t right for every family.  (Honestly, it’s not right for MOST families.)  It’s not right for every set of exes even within the same family.

However, letting your child know that their other parent is invited into your home, letting them know that you feel safe around their other parent, letting them know you trust them… THAT sends a really powerful message.  It lets them know that you are ok with their relationship with the other parent, that they don’t have to play favorites, and that it’s ok for them to trust the other parent too.

Absent concerns of violence, of course, think about whether you are able to put your anger or hurt aside and show your trust, whether by way of spare key, an offer of a shared ride somewhere, anything that will show your child that things are okay.

What’s important is the underlying message.  You can find your way to relay that message.

At Argentino Family Law & Child Advocacy, LLC, we don’t just litigate or collaborate in an attorney capacity, we also serve as mediators and parent coordinators to help mend or bridge the gap in the working relationship between coparents.  Contact our office today to see how we can help your family.

¿Tienen los padrastros algún derecho para hijastros?

Los padrastros no tienen derechos legales para un hijastro, tanto en términos de custodia física como en el derecho a tomar decisiones importantes sobre la salud y la escolaridad del niño. Del mismo modo, un padrastro o madrastra normalmente no puede solicitar la custodia de un hijastro sobre el padre legal del niño en un proceso de divorcio, excepto en casos raros, como aquellos casos que involucran abuso infantil por parte del padre legal. Si bien la preferencia del tribunal es que un niño esté bajo la custodia de un padre o pariente legal, el tribunal puede considerar al padrastro como custodio del niño si ninguno de los padres legales está disponible o puede cuidar del niño, y el padrastro tiene estableció una relación paternal cercana con el niño.

La ley de Nueva Jersey permite a terceros, como los abuelos, a/para recibir visitas o incluso la custodia de un niño. La misma lógica también se aplica a los padrastros. K.A.F. v. D.L.M., 437 N.J. Super. 123 (App. Div. 2014). Tenga en cuenta, sin embargo, que el estándar legal necesario para otorgar la custodia a un padrastro o un tercero es más alto que el estándar del “mejor interés del niño” que el tribunal debe usar en los casos de custodia de menores. A fin de obtener los derechos de custodia, un padrastro o madrastra debe demostrar que la terminación de su relación con el niño es similar a la de un padre y la ausencia de la misma causaría daño al niño. V.C. v. M.J.B., 748 A.2d 539, 163 N.J. 200 (2000).

Un padrastro o madrastra no tiene ninguna obligación específica de proporcionar un hijastro financieramente. Los cálculos de manutención infantil para el niño no tienen en cuenta los ingresos o la situación financiera del padrastro o madrastra. La única excepción a esta situación sería si el padrastro adopta al hijastro. En caso de una adopción, el padrastro o madrastra se convertiría en padre legal del niño, con todos los mismos derechos y responsabilidades que un padre natural, lo que significa que el padrastro podría tener la custodia del niño o recibir la orden de pagar manutención infantil por el niño.

La conclusión es que a menos que un padrastro o madrastra pueda obtener una orden judicial que le otorgue la custodia de un niño o la adopte, los derechos del padrastro son extremadamente limitados. No importa qué tipo de asuntos relacionados con la familia puedan estar involucrados en su asunto legal, sin embargo, nuestros abogados de derecho familiar en Nueva Jersey pueden guiarlo a través de cada paso de los procedimientos necesarios para resolver su caso. Estamos aquí para responder a todas sus preguntas sobre su caso y presentar sus posibles opciones. En Argentino Family Law & Advocacy, LLC, hemos representado los intereses de innumerables familias y niños en diferentes tipos de procedimientos legales. Póngase en contacto con nuestra oficina hoy llamando al (973) 868-0958 o por correo electrónico a y establezca un horario para hablar con nosotros sobre su caso.

Do Stepparents Have Any Rights to Stepchildren?

Stepparents have no legal rights to a stepchild, both in terms of physical custody and the right to make important decisions about the child’s health and schooling. Likewise, a stepparent normally cannot seek custody of a stepchild over the child’s legal parent in a divorce proceeding, except in rare cases, such as those cases involving child abuse by the legal parent. While the court’s preference is for a child to be in the custody of a legal parent or relative, the court can consider the stepparent as a custodian for the child if neither legal parent is available or able to care for the child, and the stepparent has established a close parental relationship with the child.

New Jersey law does permit third parties, such as grandparents, to receive visitation with or even custody of a child. The same logic also applies to stepparents. K.A.F. v. D.L.M., 437 N.J. Super. 123 (App. Div. 2014). Keep in mind, however, that the legal standard necessary for awarding custody to a stepparent or any third party is higher than the “best interest of the child” standard that the court must use in child custody cases. In order to gain custodial rights, a stepparent must prove that terminating his or her relationship with the child is akin to that of a parent and the absence of same would cause harm to the child. V.C. v. M.J.B., 748 A.2d 539, 163 N.J. 200 (2000).

A stepparent has no specific obligation to financially provide for a stepchild. Child support calculations for the child do not take the stepparent’s income or financial situation into account. The only exception to this situation would be if the stepparent adopts the stepchild. In the event of an adoption, the stepparent would become a legal parent of the child, with all of the same rights and responsibilities as a natural parent, meaning that the stepparent either could have custody of the child or be ordered to pay child support for the child.

The bottom line is that unless a stepparent is able to get a court order awarding him or her custody of a child or adopt the child, the stepparent’s rights to the child are extremely limited. No matter what kind of family-related issues may be involved in your legal matter, however, our New Jersey family law attorneys can guide you through every step of the proceedings necessary to resolving your case. We are here to answer all of your questions about your case and present your potential options. At Argentino Family Law & Advocacy, LLC, we have represented the interests of countless families and children throughout many different types of legal proceeding. Contact our office today at (973) 868-0958 or by e-mail at and set up a time to talk with us about your case.

Two Sides Of The Story

Storm is on it’s way.  I’m going nuts at the office trying to prep for the storm and get home to the babysitter to take over care of my three kids.

9 simple words via text made me breathe a sigh of relief.  My twins’ coparent (my ex), is on her way to the grocery store after work.  She texts my spouse and me and simply asks “do you guys need anything from the grocery store?”

Milk, bread, eggs.

3 essential items.

0 extra minutes of her time at the store.

$11 sent from me via venmo.

Result = priceless.

Respect, thoughtfulness, what goes around comes around…

I’ve been in the car for an hour and a half.  I JUST want to get to my kids and get them home and snuggle.  Another snow storm is coming and everyone is driving like the world is coming to an end.  The grocery store is going to be a nightmare but I better stop before I get the kids and not make them go out in this twice if there’s no need.  And it’s SO MUCH easier to run in and run out without having to drag them around after they’ve already spent their whole day at school and with the babysitter.

“Do you guys need anything from the grocery store?”

I send a quick text letting them know I’ll be a little bit late. 

It only makes sense to grab anything they need too instead of having them stay with the kids while I shop and then they’d go out once I’ve picked the kids up. 

They only need a couple of items, it’s not like it’s going to make this run any more difficult.  Plus, then they actually get to spend a little bit of time with the kids before we all get snowed in.  Sometimes a few minutes is all it takes, and everyone feels good and happy and doesn’t miss each other so much.  

The groceries may not be for the kids, but the people who help take care of them are pretty important players too.  Taking care of each other has made all the difference in the world.


At Argentino Family Law & Child Advocacy, LLC, we don’t only litigate or collaborate in an attorney capacity, we also serve as mediators and parent coordinators to help mend or bridge the gap in the working relationship between coparents.  Contact our office today to see how we can help your family.

Mudarse Afuera Del Estado: Lo Que Los Padres de Nueva Jersey Deben Saber

La ley de Nueva Jersey establece que cuando la Corte tiene jurisdicción sobre la custodia y el apoyo de los niños de padres divorciados, separados o que viven separados, los niños no pueden mudarse del estado sin el consentimiento de los niños (si son de edad adecuada) o sin el consentimiento de los dos padres. Si uno de los padres se opone a que los niños se muden de Nueva Jersey, cualquiera de los padres puede presentar una aplicación ante de la Corte para solicitar una orden que permita o prohíba la reubicación. El propósito de la ley es preservar los derechos de los padres que no tienen custodia, así como mantener y desarrollar la relación entre el padre que no tiene custodia y los niños. La Corte ha reconocido que la reubicación de niños del estado puede afectar gravemente los derechos de visita del padre que no tiene la custodia.

Las cortes siguen las normas establecidas en Baures v. Lewis y O’Connor v. O’Connor durante los últimos dieciséis años. Baures, supra, 167 N.J. 91 (2001); O’Connor, supra, 349 N.J. Super. 381 (App. Div. 2002). La decisión de Baures y O’Connor resultó en una prueba de dos puntas. La primera punta hico necesario que la Corte determinar el verdadero acuerdo de custodia física. Podría haber un cierto acuerdo de custodia compartida, o, alternativamente, podría haber un arreglo donde un padre se designa como el padre de residencia primaria (PPR) y el otro padre es designa como el padre de residencia alterna (PAR). La segunda punta requiere que la corte analice la disputa basada en el acuerdo de custodia. En los casos con custodia física compartida, la corte evaluaría lo que será mejor para el niño. En los casos en que existe un arreglo de PPR y PAR, la Corte determinará si el PPR hace la petición de buena fe y si la reubicación haría daño al interés del niño. Este estándar viene de la investigación de ciencias sociales antiguas que pretendía que el interés de un niño estaba atado al bienestar del PPR.

Las cortes adoptaron un nuevo estándar en agosto de 2017 cuando La Corte Suprema de Nueva Jersey decidió el caso de Bisbing v. Bisbing. 2017 N.J. Lexis 830. La Corte reconoció que la ciencia social detrás de la decisión de Baures ya no era universalmente cierta, y como tal, descubrió que independientemente del acuerdo de custodia, las cortes deben decidir las disputas de reubicación al decidir qué es lo mejor para el niño. Esto incluye pero no se limita a losconocimientos de los dos padres, así como los factores estatutarios bajo de N.J.S.A. 9:2-4, que son los siguientes:

* La capacidad de los padres para ponerse de acuerdo, comunicarse y cooperar en materia relacionada con el niño;

* La disposición de los padres a aceptar la custodia y cualquier historial de falta de voluntad para permitir el tiempo de crianza no se basa en el abuso justificado;

* La interacción y relación del niño con sus padres y hermanos;

* La historia de la violencia doméstica, si la hay;

* La seguridad del niño y la seguridad de cualquiera de los padres del abuso físico del otro padre;

* La preferencia del niño cuando tiene suficiente edad y capacidad para razonar a fin de formar una decisión inteligente;

* Las necesidades del niño;

* La estabilidad del ambiente de casa ofrecido;

* La calidad y la continuidad de la educación del niño;

* La aptitud de los padres; la proximidad geográfica de las casas de los padres;

* El alcance y la calidad del tiempo pasado con el niño antes o después de la separación;

* Las responsabilidades laborales de los padres; y

* La edad y el número de niños