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Extended Parenting Time, Child Custody And Name Change Award Appealed

Extended Parenting Time, Child Custody And Name Change Award Appealed

In Ferriola v. Chiarulli, the Defendant appealed from a Family Court Order that expanded the Plaintiff’s parenting time and restored the parties’ child’s name to that appearing on her birth certificate. The Appellate Court affirmed the decision of the lower court. The parties in this case share a four (4) year old girl. They were never married and they do not get along with each other. During their lives, both have battled addictions to drugs or alcohol and their daughter tested positive for drugs when she was born in 2010. As a result, she suffered severe and lasting withdrawal symptoms which caused there to be a finding of abuse and neglect against the parents. In 2011, the Defendant was awarded sole legal and physical custody of the girl and the Plaintiff was allowed only weekly supervised visitation while she underwent drug treatment. The Plaintiff completed court ordered parenting classes and began drug treatment as recommended by the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) in 2011. After completing a one (1) year drug treatment program the Plaintiff was awarded ten (10) hours a week of unsupervised parenting time with her child with the plan to re-evaluate parenting time in the future. Six months later the judge found that the Plaintiff’s parenting time visits were successful and she was still sober, therefore she expanded her parenting time to include overnight visits. The judge also granted the Plaintiff’s request to change the child’s name to add her last name as an additional middle name to allow the child to carry the Plaintiff’s family name without hyphenating her surname. The Defendant appealed arguing that the court should not have expanded the Plaintiff’s overnight parenting time or changed the child’s name without a plenary hearing. The Appellate Court held that the Defendant’s arguments were without merit pursuant to Rule 2:11-3(e)(1)(E). The Appellate Court believed that the Family Court judge, who had overseen the case for over three (3) years carefully explained her reasons for all of the relief that the Plaintiff was awarded. Most importantly, the judge based all of her decisions on the child’s best interests. Hand v. Hand, 391 N.J. Super. 102, 111-12 (App. Div 2007). Therefore, the Appellate Court affirmed the decision of the Family Court. Child custody and parenting time cases are of the most emotional and difficult cases in all of family law as are the often included issues including changing a child’s name. If you feel that it may be beneficial to you to submit an application to the court to change your child’s name or modify your current child custody or parenting time arrangement it is critical that you seek out the advice of an experienced attorney. For more information about name change, child custody, parenting time, non dissolution cases, divorce or other family law matters in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes and in no way is intended to replace the advice of an attorney.

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