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Geraldene Sherr Duswalt
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Geraldene Duswalt’s Answers

194 total


  • When I request to the family court for counseling and evaluation of my ex and my son. who pay for it?

    I have a lot of issues with my ex since her parenting and life style are very disorganized and no appropriate to care for my child. lawyers have advised that has been to ask the court to to an evaluation and to get some counseling. The question i...

    Geraldene’s Answer

    The question about who pays for custody evaluation and therapy depend on the specific circumstances of your case. You do not say whether there is a settlement agreement in place that may address this. If you want to change custody, you need to plead a case of changed circumstance from the time that custody was awarded. However, if there are other things going on such as parental alienation, or improper care of the child, the court can make the other parent pay for some or all of these fees. The answer as to how much each pays depends upon many factors. However, generally if there is a forensic evaluation or other parenting evaluation, the court often makes each parent pay one half of the fee. While you can file a motion without a lawyer, you most likely would get a better result if you have a lawyer and since these are serious issues, at least a consultation where a lawyer can focus on the specifics of your situation should be obtained. There are too many nuances to give a full and detailed answer, except to say that evaluations are generally split, but of course not always, and therapeutic court ordered counseling such as reunification therapy is generally divided but not always so we would need to look at the finances for both of you before giving a more specific opinion as to what you may be stuck paying.

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  • What can I expect if I request a law guardian because of extreme parental alienation? What will the cost of the guardian be?

    What can I expect if I request a law guardian because of extreme parental alienation? What will the cost of the guardian be? If the CP (mother) severely alienated child, by taking her on vacations, taking away her phone, telling her that I am a ...

    Geraldene’s Answer

    Parental alienation is very serious, and the courts will take action if it is presented properly. You can request a law guardian be appointed for the child, this is within the discretion of the court and may or may not be granted. A law guardian is basically a lawyer that represents the child and it can be expensive depending upon who is appointed. You can ask that your ex pay for this, depending upon how the case is presented, and the relative incomes of each, the court could order that your ex pay some or all of the fees. The Court could also order a forensic evaluation depending upon what relief you request in your motion. Also depending upon where you live, the age of the child, your custody agreement and many other factors, you may want to consider asking for a change of custody so that you would be the custodial parent. You could ask for therapy for the child as well. There are many ways to combat this but you should take action sooner rather than later because the more time that passes the more damage will be done. You should have counsel do the motion it is hard to navigate the courts without a lawyer and this seems to be too important to attempt it. Try to find someone who will get on the phone with you for at least a few minutes when you call the office, that person will be more likely to be responsive throughout the process and make sure it is someone you are comfortable working with.

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  • Just found out my ex has a new husband - what should I do about my son being in his presence?

    Just found out my ex got married - I never met her supposed husband. I have custody of our son in NJ and he is due to spend time with his mother in FL next week for spring break for which he will be in the presence of my son that whole week. S...

    Geraldene’s Answer

    I agree with the other answers, there may not be much you can do, unless you are aware that this individual has real issues; child abuse, molestation, violent crime, drug use, and the like. So you can do some searching on your own first. However, if there is nothing about this person that you can identify that would cause harm to your child, then it will be hard to convince a judge to restrain her from having her husband present for the visitation. On the other hand, if you find out they are sleeping in the same bed, or other such activity that could be harmful, then you will need to take action. In that case, you could file either a motion or Order to Show Cause depending upon the timing of the visits and what you find.

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  • Filling for the no fault divorce in NJ with two kids.

    Hi, I have been married since Jan 2012, we got married in India. However, we have been living in NJ since late 2013. I have a 2.5 year old as well as 3 months old and would like to file for the no-fault divorce as we have differences beyond repair...

    Geraldene’s Answer

    There is no reason to have heated arguments over anything, the law in New Jersey is well settled and if you each engage a quality lawyer, they can work out a settlement for you that makes sense for each of you taking into account your circumstances and issues. Since you have children, you want to make sure they are taken care of and that you both have a parenting plan that is in their best interest and keep you both in their lives. Have a few consultations, look for someone who is mediation friendly and will get on the phone with you for a few minutes when you call. Look for someone who you feel wants to get you a fair and equitable settlement without being overly or unnecessarily aggressive You can either attend mediation prior to filing or you can file the complaint and then decide together to engage in mediation or settlement. This should cost you a huge amount of money and you should be divorced in a few months. The case is easier to process and the result ends up being more fair when you both have a lawyer, it is going to be money well spent since you both have many years to co-parent your young children.

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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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