Father Ordered To Participate In Parenting Time With Daughter
- August 11, 2015
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R.R. v. L.A.C., is a matrimonial divorce action focusing on parenting time in which the Plaintiff (the non-custodial parent) did not answer the Complaint but attended the default divorce hearing and asked to voice his apprehensions about having parenting time with his daughter. The Plaintiff, the father, worked full-time and the Defendant, mother, worked part time earning minimum wage and lived with the parties’ daughter. At the default divorce hearing the Plaintiff requested a divorce with the possibility of future parenting time “when [he] [was] ready.” The Defendant requested that the Plaintiff be available to help raise their child. The Plaintiff emigrated from Peru to the United States in 1987. He returned to Peru years later and the parties married there in 1993. They lived separate and apart for the majority of their marriage after he returned to the United States in 1997. Although he returned to Peru a few times he did not see his wife and daughter from 2002 through 2013 when he sponsored their emigration from Peru in 2013. The parties’ daughter had no recollection of her father. Difficulties within this family emerged immediately because the Plaintiff desired to live separate and apart from his family with little involvement in their lives. Further, the child, who was thirteen years old, was having extreme difficulties assimilating into the American school system. She was constantly bullied due to her cleft palate, hearing loss, and impaired speech. Seeing no way out, the Defendant sent the child back to Peru to live with her maternal grandmother. Within a few months, the child returned to the United States to be with her mother. During the default hearing, the judge noticed the child sitting in the back of the courtroom and with the aid of an interpreter asked her questions about her relationship with her father. She meekly asked the court “. . . if it [was] possible for him [her father] to see [her] once a week,” and then hesitated and requested that she would like “to give him a hug.” The court then questioned the father who explained that he was very uncomfortable about seeing his daughter and that he was not ready to spend time with her without the aid of therapists. According to the court, a custodial parent is entitled to the non-custodial parent’s assistance. Non-custodial parents should assist custodial parents in raising and nurturing their children unless there is a Court Order prohibiting them from doing so. Further, the court has the equitable authority to facilitate parenting time between children and absent parents, to order counseling, and to require parents to complete parenting programs and “in promoting the child’s welfare, the Court should [make] every effort to attain for the child the affection of both parents.” In re Jackson, 13 N.J. Super. 144, 147-48, 80 A.2d 306 (App. Div. 1951). “The Family Court possesses broad equitable powers to accomplish substantial justice.” Finger v. Zenn, 335 N.J. Super. 438, 446, 762 A.2d 702 (App. Div. 2000). In this case, the court entered an Order requiring the Plaintiff to call his daughter and see her weekly and identified low cost counseling and programs that promoted fathering skills. If you believe that a modification to your parenting time schedule or plan may be beneficial to you it is critical that you seek out the advice of an experienced attorney before moving forward. For more information about post-judgment modification, parenting time, equitable distribution, divorce, or other family law matters in New Jersey visit the DarlingFirm.com. This blog is for informational purposes and in no way is intended to replace the advice if an attorney.