Saturday, March 16, 2013
Risk Assessment Is Required if Requested By A Party in NJ Parenting Time Decisions
A New Jersey statute, N.J.S.A. 2C:25-29(b)(3)(a) requires a risk assessment prior to the entry of a parenting time order if either party requests one. This statute is designed to protect children but has potential for abuse by a resentful party. Because a risk assessment may be ordered when establishing the initial parenting time or any time thereafter for modification motions, it is one which may be used by a resentful party against another to cause further stress during or after the dissolution of a relationship in which children are involved. Fortunately, if the Court finds that the request is arbitrarily designed to cause difficulty for the defending party and has no real basis, the court need not order a risk assessment. In many situations risk assessment requests will not be ordered by the court. However, in cases where this is a final restraining order (FRO) against the party, there are concerns about drug or alcohol use, there are signs of inadequate supervision during parenting time and similar issues, the court will have reason to order a risk assessment. During the pendency of the risk assessment, parenting time may be limited or suspended. Risk assessment is a lengthy process which involves a court appointed professional meeting with each party to make an evaluation then preparing a report to the judge which will likely be relied on by the judge in making the final decision after a hearing in which both parties appear after the report is complete. When being assessed, either party may provide statements, witnesses, medical records and other evidence to prove their case. If you are seeking or defending a change in custody in which you believe a risk assessment will or should be involved you need an experienced family law attorney by your side to protect your rights. For more information on parenting time, custody, divorce, dissolution of civil union or domestic partnership, alimony, child support or other family law matters in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes only and in no way intended to replace the advice of an attorney regarding your specific matter.