Appellate Court Awards Custody to Plaintiff-Pastor in Custody Case
- February 2, 2014
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In the Appellate Division case, of H.L. v. M.M., a New Jersey Family Court denied the Plaintiff’s petition for custody over an illegal immigrant from Honduras citing that the Plaintiff’s application for custody was a sham directed at providing the boy with legal immigration status under U.S.C. 1101(a)(27)(J)(i)(ii). The Appellate Division reversed the lower court’s decision. The Plaintiff in the case, H.L., is the pastor of a small church just across the American border. He appealed the decision of the Family Court denying him custody of F.D.M. F.D.M. is a boy who entered the United States illegally and was placed in the care of the Plaintiff following a stay at a detention center where he was being held by the Office of Refugee Resettlement in 2010. A hearing was held at which F.D.M. told the court that he walked across the border with his uncle who was turned away by immigration officials. H.L., the Plaintiff, is a pastor at the church in America where F.D.M.’s mother, Defendant M.M., is a member. M.M. contacted H.L. and specifically requested that he retrieve F.D.M. from the detention center. M.M. had illegally arrived in America in 2000 and being that she barely earned a living could not support F.D.M. Defendant D.M., F.D.M.’s natural father, was unable to be served in the action because his whereabouts in Honduras were unknown. In reversing the lower Family Court’s decision and granting H.L. custody over F.D.M., the Appellate Court found that because F.D.M.’s father’s whereabouts were unknown and evidence reflected that he had abandoned F.D.M. and because M.M. was unable to care for him in any way the Family Court Judge’s ruling was made in error. The Court ruled that the lower court judge’s holding was not based on adequate, competent evidence and did not support his legal conclusion. Therefore, the Appellate Division awarded the Plaintiff custody over F.D.M. Custody battles can be among the most heart-wrenching and difficult situations a person can become involved in. In addition, the issues that arise during contested custody disputes can be very complex. If you are engaged in a custody and/or parenting time dispute it is extremely important that you seek out the advice of an experienced attorney before proceeding. For more information about custody, visitation, parenting time, divorce, or other family law matters in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes and in no way intended to replace the advice of an attorney.