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Geraldene Sherr Duswalt
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Geraldene Duswalt’s Answers

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  • Conflict of Interest

    Is it a conflict for a lawyer to refer you to another lawyer for a family law matter? This lawyer, and their law firm, has never been retained by my ex. Besides, I am asking for a referral not asking to retain them.

    Geraldene’s Answer

    I think your asking whether the lawyer you consulted could refer you to another lawyer. I am assuming from your question that the lawyer you consulted coud not take your case and would not refer you to anyone else. Your ex does not have to retain the firm, if she consulted with them in any way, even if she did not retain them, they cannot represent you. While in theory they could give you a number of names of lawyers in your area, most law firms will not do so in that situation as they want to avoid the appearance of any conflict. By declining to refer you to anyone else that they know, they are right, if could be viewed as a conflict. You are better off getting names of lawyers other ways. This site has a list of lawyers in your area and an internet search of local lawyers would also give you some names. You can research them on your own. The other option is your county bar association. They have a referral list, but do not presume that you need a lawyer in your county. While you want to pick someone that is easy for you to get to, they do not have to be located in your town or county. Hope this is helpful.

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  • Visitation Issue

    My ex has visitation with our son every other weekend. During some visits my ex is working and not there for part of the day and my son is there with his step mother and half brother . Can I get an order so his father has to be there 100% of the t...

    Geraldene’s Answer

    The first place to look is in your divorce papers. If you settled the case, there may be some provision that provides for a "right of first refusal". If not, then it would make sense for the child to visit when the parent is actually there. If you cannot make a schedule with him that would work then you might want to bring a motion. Some judge's will grant it and some will not, most will send you to a mediator to try working out the issue before ruling. I agree with other posts that you should have an attorney. The expense should not be huge and the money will be well spent. Once you bring the motion you may not have a second chance. Many lawyers offer a low cost or no cost consultation so that you can meet them and at least learn your rights.

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  • Is there any way to dispute a paternity test?

    say your in a marriage and through an act of infidelity you father a child with another women and she is suing you for child support, but she needs a DNA test to prove you are the father... Can one dispute the claim? Even if the DNA turns out posi...

    Geraldene’s Answer

    These tests are very accurate. I am not sure if you want the child to be yours or not, but the court will take the results of the test and make orders in accordance with the results.

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  • If a husband abandoned his family, moved to another state.

    does that mean he has the right to have our son go there to visit? He decided he wasn't coming back & left the family. He deserted us. We're still married & he's already met, living & talking marriage with her already. I don't know what to do, I h...

    Geraldene’s Answer

    You seem to have a number of issues that need to be addressed. You do not say if he is paying child support, but just because he left the state does not mean he has no obligation to provide support for his child. Depending upon your financial situation, there could be support for you as well. As far as parenting time, unless there is a situation at his residence that is contrary to the child's best interest, such as issues with other persons living there, or you have reason to believe that the child will not be properly supervised, there would likely be some parenting time schedule. This is something that should be worked out with the help of professionals, either a lawyer or mediator. You do not say how the child would travel, the age of the child, or the location of the father. These are all important factors. This forum cannot give you all of the answers. You would be best served by having a consultation with an experienced family lawyer. Do not think that the lawyer has to be located in your town or even your county. While the location has to be convenient for you, most lawyers cover multiple counties. Look for someone with reasonable rates that you feel comfortable working with. Many give free or low cost consultations. Then at least you will know where you stand and can make decisions that are in your child's best interest and make sense for you given the circumstances of your situation.

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  • Alimony and Retirement

    Was divorced many years ago, back in the 1990's and am now coming up to retirement age (65). What happens now with alimony? Does it stay the same? Does it get changed? Does it stop? What if I don't retire now but work a few more years? Ha...

    Geraldene’s Answer

    This is really a two part question; without the new law, based upon your settlement agreement, you can make an application to have your alimony reviewed. Also, based upon the new law, there is now another way to have your alimony reviewed, when you reach retirement age. While the statute is not applied retroactively to change old agreements, there is now a presumption, which can be rebutted depending upon the circumstances, that alimony should either cease or change when you reach retirement age. This would take the form of a motion, and you would be better served by spending a few thousand dollars to have a lawyer do it for your. The new law is somewhat complicated and has not been in effect for long so how the judges interpret it will depend in part on how it is presented. It should not be a huge cost, look for someone who will work with you on payments, and who will not charge a huge fee, but someone who is an experienced family lawyer. This will increase your chances of having your motion granted and could save you much more money in the long run. Good luck to you.

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  • Can my wife leave our home with our children and stop me from seeing them?

    She left our home to go to her mother’s house three weeks ago by herself and two weeks ago she picked up our kids from preschool and took them with her. I filed for custody of our children and started a case with the NJ Child Protection ...

    Geraldene’s Answer

    The fact that you would not see your children at all for two and a half months is totally not acceptable. You need to see an experienced lawyer immediatly. Even though the custody hearing may be scheduled for some time in the future, you can petition for parenting time while the case is pending. Even if there are issues that are not identified here, you can still get parenting time, even if it needs to be supervised (I am not saying you should have supervised parenting time, I am saying that even if there were allegations or issues, you still get to see your kids). I always note in my answers that you should look for a lawyer that will talk to you for a few minutes on the phone, and that may be able to give you a low cost consultation. Make sure it is someone you trust and are comfortable with as these are important issues. You should have a lawyer for the custody hearing as well.

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  • What is the best parenting time during the summer, can be changed when child is on vacations?

    never married and I have been in court back n forth with ex. We never lived together but I do care to be part of my sons life. I have fought very hard to access my son, ex gives all kind of excuses, first he was too little, now that he is in pre-k...

    Geraldene’s Answer

    I agree that you should consider hiring an attorney to bring a motion in the family court. Parenting time schedules can always be changed when children get older. and extended time in the summer is one way to have more time when your location and/or work schedule makes it difficult to take the child to school in the mornings. These cases are fact sensitive and it is sometimes difficult to navigate without a lawyer. The cost should not be exorbitant and there are some lawyers that will do a free or low cost consultation so that you can meet and at least know your rights. Since it is already the middle of March, you need to bring your motion now, or at least by the end of the month, it takes time for it to be heard and if you wait, you risk losing part of the summer because your case was not heard in time.

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  • Pro se client. Ex has no parenting time with our teenager. Forced reunification of 4 yrs unsuccessful. Need this end.

    Even though my ex has no healthy relationship with our child, no present visitations, he continually emails me, questions me if our child is dating, if so who. It's so out of hand. He is so controlling and demanding. Do I have to provide all this ...

    Geraldene’s Answer

    The first part of the answer is simple; you do not have to allow yourself to be his secretary. I do not know the parameters of your orders, but sometimes I suggest blocking access to all devices except one, to communicate with such as a seperate e-mail address to use just for him and then block the phone and texting, but you have to make sure that this is appropriate under your circumstances. It may be appropriate to obtain a restraining order. That is why I also agree that ou should seek a consultation.

    If he threatens to take you to court, you should not allow those threats to scare you into a situation that is not appropriate for you. So long as you are complying with all requirments of your orders, let him make his threats. I also agree that you should continue your pressure for arrears through probation. I know that it can be a fustrating process, but in the end, if there is something to garnish, they will, you can get his tax return, he can even be jailed. It is not a perfect tool, and often cases fall through the cracks, but keepk at it. Even after the chlld is emancipated, you can still collect your arrears, so do not give up and do not give in. Look for a free or low cost consultation and do not feel you need to stick with someone in your county, most lawyers practice in multiple counties.

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  • Divorce related: Would it be wise to go to court w/o representation when spouse has a lawyer?

    A family member is going through a divorce. Spouse has legal representation and is asking for spousal support, child support and MORE! A court date has also been set for later this month. Would it be wise for them to go to court with out represen...

    Geraldene’s Answer

    It is never wise to go without a lawyer. Depending upon your situation and your location, divorce need not be as expensive as people protray. The key is that you and your spouse enter into an agreement to settle your case that is fair and reasonable under the circumstance, it is a compromise where neither of you get everything that you want but both of you get at least most of what you need. You need a lawyer to advise you as to whether the terms are fair and reasonable under the law in your state. It is money well spent. I see many clients who come in post divorce with an unfair or unworkable agreement or an unfavorable judgment, and there is little to do after the fact. I am not just saying this becasue I am an attorney. It will be money well spent.

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  • Can I have parenting time suspended?

    I recently lost my job and had to appear in family court. I was asking the judge to have the other party participate in the transportation. The judge changed the location of the pick up and drop off very close to the other party. I am not in th...

    Geraldene’s Answer

    If you are asking whether you need a court order to stop seeing your children, the answer is that you do not. The court cannot force you to see your children. If you cannot afford the trip then you may have no choice. It is not clear from your post why the judge moved the place of exchange closer to her house and farther from yours. However, unless your ex agrees to a differnt location, you would have to return to court to change the location.

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