The New Jersey Appellate Division ruled on Jan. 29 that a family court judge had violated the constitutional rights of two plaintiffs. The Family Division judge had dismissed a grandparents’ petition to adopt their grandchild before hearing the grandparents argue their case in court. The appeals court also found that the lower court judge did not properly explain the reason for the dismissal.
Before their case was dismissed, the grandparents had filed a petition to adopt a grandchild that was living in their home. According to the grandparents, the birth mother and birth father abandoned the child and were not contributing to the child’s care. The grandparents also alleged that the child’s birth mother and birth father were drug abusers, and the child could have a more stable life at the grandparents’ home.
The grandparents were awarded temporary child custody after they filed their claim, but that order was quickly changed. After the birth mother was served with the complaint, she filed an emergency ex parte order and requested the immediate return of her custody rights. Both the birth mother and the birth father denied the allegations that were made against them in the grandparents’ petition, and the lower court judge sided with them. The child was removed from the grandparents’ custody and placed with the birth mother. After the appeals court found that the Family Division judge had taken shortcuts, the case was reassigned to a different Family Division judge.
While going through a divorce, the potential of losing child custody rights is usually a parent’s biggest concern. An attorney can help a parent argue for joint custody at divorce negotiations and child custody hearings. If a parent has already lost custody, an attorney may help the parent to appeal the family court judge’s decision.
Source: Daily Record, “Appellate court: Morris judge violated grandparents’ rights,” Peggy Wright, Jan. 29, 2016