Typically, the filing by the CPS of a child abuse complaint serves to remove all of the child-related issues from the matrimonial court to the child abuse and neglect proceeding. In New Jersey, there is this general rule that we should have one judge per family. However, that rarely happens. In most counties across the state, you’re going to have one judge to handle the divorce and a different judge to handle the child abuse case.
What you need to think about is once at least one of the parents is reunified, the child abuse judge is most likely going to direct that all custody and parenting time issues go back to the divorce. The only issue that the judge is going to be looking at, if the child abuse is going on at that point, is whether the parent who still doesn’t have access is going to be liberally allowed to be reunified with the child – at which point, the parents can go fight it out in matrimonial court as to who should be the primary parent. Because there really was no primary parent when the matter started, it really started at a time when the parents were together, even though they were going through a divorce.
Allison C. Williams is a matrimonial and family law attorney serving Short Hills New Jersey. Her practice places an emphasis on complex child welfare matters. www.familylawyersnewjersey.com