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Child support and visitation are just some of the issues that regularly come up in New Jersey family law cases. Although many of these issues can often be resolved by agreement between spouses or parents, some must eventually be hammered out by a judge. If you are not satisfied with the Trial Court’s decision, you have the right to appeal it.   You should, however, carefully consider the factors on appeal.  It is a costly and time-consuming process that must make sense to pursue.  As a recent case out of New Jersey’s Superior Court shows Appeal Courts are often highly deferential to a trial judge’s findings about the facts of the case.  Family Court judges have wide discretion.

child-on-the-beach-1505504Mother and Father divorced in June 2013, following roughly 17 years of marriage. They eventually agreed to share legal custody of their children, with Mother retaining primary physical custody of the kids. Father agreed that his visitation time with the children would be supervised. Five years later, he later went back to court to have the supervision lifted. After hearing testimony from a number of parenting and custody experts, the trial judge sided with Father. The judge found that there was no reason that Father’s time with the children should be supervised.

The trial judge also reduced Father’s monthly support payments. He had been paying Mother more than $600 per month in child support based on the original Order; however, the Trial Court found that Father should have been responsible for about $200 less a month based on child support guidelines that are used to set support levels. The Court felt there was a prior mistake in the child support figure.  As a result, the court also credited Father for the over payments.

 

The Superior Court Appellate Division affirmed the decision on appeal. In so doing, the court explained just how much deference appeals courts give to trial judges in fashioning child custody, visitation, and related decisions. Although that deference doesn’t extend to a trial court’s legal conclusions, it does cover the fact findings that a judge makes based on the evidence in the record. “A reviewing court should uphold the factual findings undergirding the trial court’s decision if they are supported by adequate, substantial and credible evidence on the record,” the Court said. “Appellate review of parenting time decisions is accorded great weight on appeal.” Here, the Court said there was no reason to overturn the trial judge’s rulings on visitation and child support as it was based on substantial evidence.

As this case makes clear, a person appealing a family law decision in New Jersey often faces an uphill battle.  The Appellate Division will only overturn a Trial Court decision if it finds judicial error or an abuse of discretion.  That’s why it is vital that a person considering a divorce or grappling with a related legal issue seeks the counsel and advice of a seasoned family law attorney.

The New Jersey family lawyers at Helfand & Associates have more than 100 years of combined experience representing clients in a wide range of divorce, child custody, and support cases. Our lawyers work diligently to ease the stress on clients in what can be a trying process by building the strongest possible cases for the people that we represent.  Tanya Helfand is a Certified Matrimonial Attorney in the State of New Jersey

Our offices are conveniently located in Whippany and New York City. We are happy to offer clients a free half-hour consultation in family law and other cases. Contact us online, call our New Jersey office at (973) 428-0800, or call our New York City office at (646) 213-9053 to set up an appointment with one of our attorneys.

 

Our Offices
  • Whippany Office
    575 Route 10 East
    Suite 1
    Whippany, New Jersey 07981
    Phone: 973-428-0800
    Fax: 973-428-0830
  • New York Office
    420 Lexington Ave.
    New York, New York 10170
    Phone: 646-213-9053
Testimonials
  • "Without Tanya and her time, the really unpleasant experience of getting divorced would have been even worse. They were able to settle the matter very quickly and helped me fit this into my tight schedule allowing me to leave to move abroad for my dissertation research on time without having to delay the trip because of the divorce. They also did all of it within my very tight budget. Thank you so much for your help and dedication to my legal matter!"  - AG

  • "Tanya and her Associates are outstanding! What I admire most about Tanya is her knowledge of the law with her keen negotiation skills to foster mediation. Her strategies efficiently resolve conflict leading to the resolution of cases. She and her team have an outstanding work ethic, know what data are needed, and get the job done. It is a pleasure to work with such wonderful professionals."  - Tara, Whippany

  • "I found Ms. Helfand's knowledge and tenacity most reassuring during the ordeal of my divorce. She was steadfast in her guidance and was very effective in her negotiations on my behalf. I would recommend her without a second thought."  -Jonathan

  • "Ms. Helfand was very professional and helpful with our bankruptcy case. Her advice was very useful and helped us make the proper decisions for our situation. In addition, she was very supportive during a very difficult time for us. Finally, she set very specific fee expectations and there were no surprises when it was completed. I would use her services again and would recommend her, without question."

  • "She is Incredible, very quick responding to the other party. Very professional and courteous. I highly recommend her. She has a great passion and love for every single case."

  • "Tanya and her team were very professional handling my divorce proceedings. She was very proactive in making the other attorney finally get the process moving forward. I would recommend her to anyone looking for legal services."  -Scott

  • "Ms. Helfand strategized & processed, both, my Divorce & Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. As both cases were emotionally and legally challenging, Ms. Helfand proved to be an empowering Mentor along the path to clarity for which I am truly grateful.I highly recommend her legal expertise to anyone who is seeking a confident, savvy & caring attorney to become at peace with self and any legal matters."  -Vas

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