Child Custody, Visitation & Relocation

Best Interest Of Child Determination Is Required For Child Custody Determination

In the New Jersey child custody family law case of Vosisano vs. Reynolds, 20-2-4825 (App. Div.) the plaintiff Antonio Vocisano appealed from the March 5, 2013 Family Part order, which denied his application for sole legal and physical custody of his child with defendant Catherine Reynolds. Plaintiff and defendant both sought sole legal and physical custody of the child. Pursuant to a July 24, 2012 order, the parties appeared for a custody hearing. However, at the conclusion of the hearing, the judge did not make a best interest determination, but instead ordered a 50-50 parenting time schedule. In a July 27, 2012 order, the judge acknowledged the custody issue remained unresolved, but granted the parties joint custody with neither party designated as the parent of primary residence. The judge also permitted either party to request a best interests evaluation if custody remained an issue. Because custody remained an issue, the judge subsequently ordered a best interests evaluation and a plenary hearing. The best interests evaluation was completed and the parties appeared for a plenary hearing. Noting the July 27, 2012 order had granted the parties joint custody, the judge considered the matter as plaintiff’s request to modify custody. In the order on appeal, the judge denied plaintiff sole legal and physical custody for failure to show changed circumstances and granted the parties joint custody. The appellate panel finds the judge applied the wrong legal principle in denying plaintiff sole legal and physical custody of the child where there was no best interests determination, articulation of reasons, of final custody judgment. The panel remands for a plenary hearing, best interests determination and articulation of reasons for the custody determination.

Reference: Case & Analysis, New Jersey Law Journal, 218N.J.L.J.480 (November 3, 2014)

Filed Under: Family Law, Child Custody, Best Interest of Child

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