Transgender issues arrive in family court

When people ask me why I chose to practice family law is that it allows me to help families through very difficult times.  Another reason is that family law deals with a wide range of issues that have impacts which extend beyond my particular client.

One such issue was recently addressed for the first time in a New Jersey court.  The controversy centered around whether a parent would be able to implement a name change for a transgendered child.  The child was given a name at birth that corresponded with their physical sexual identity.  Later on, as it became apparent the child was transgendered, a request was made to allow the child to adopt a name that corresponded with their true sexual identity.  In determining how to make such a decision, the court determined that the “best interests of the child” standard should apply.

For a summary of this case, see the following summary from the NJ Law Journal.

FAMILY LAW
20-3-3621 Sacklow v. Betts, N.J. Super. Ch. Div. (Silva, J.S.C.) (17 pp.) This opinion addresses an issue of first impression before the court; the standard to apply to a transgender minor child’s name change application. The court finds that the best interest of the child standard should govern the court’s decision and that the following factors should be considered when determining whether a name change is in the minor child’s best interest, where the minor child is transgender and wishes to assume a name they believe corresponds to the gender they identify with: (1) the age of the child; (2) the length of time the child has used the preferred name; (3) any potential anxiety, embarrassment or discomfort that may result from the child having a name he or she believes does not match his or her outward appearance and gender identity; (4) the history of any medical or mental health counseling the child has received; (5) the name the child is known by in his or her family, school and community; (6) the child’s preference and motivations for seeking the name change; and (7) whether both parents consent to the name change, and if consent is not given, the reason for withholding consent. After analyzing these factors in light of the testimony and facts presented in the case before the court, plaintiff’s motion to legally change Veronica’s name to Trevor was granted. (Approved for Publication)

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Resolving your domestic violence case with civil restraints? Be careful of what you ask for!

Domestic violence continues to be a problem throughout NJ.  In many cases, the entry of a Final Restraining Order (FRO) is the best course of action for promoting the ongoing safety of the victim.  However, there are serious implications to the entry of FRO that can further complicate a divorce case.

One method of affording protection to the victim while minimizing the consequences and constraints of a FRO is for the parties to enter into civil restraints provided that there is a divorce, support, or custody case filed. NOTE: the differences between civil restraints and a FRO are significant and you should discuss these differences with your attorney prior to choosing a particular course of action.

As the case summary below holds,  civil restraints do not give the alleged abuse a free pass.  Care must be taken to abide by the terms set forth in the civil order so as to not risk future violations.

If you have questions about domestic violence contact The Durst Firm for answers.

FAMILY LAW 20-2-3392 S.G. v. A.G., N.J. Super. App. Div. (per curiam) (5 pp.) Defendant appealed from the entry of a final restraining order sought by plaintiff, who alleged that defendant committed the predicate act of harassment by sending her numerous expletive-laced text messages over the course of the early morning continuing into the evening the following day. The trial court granted the FRO, finding that, at the time defendant sent the text messages, his authority to communicate with plaintiff was limited by previously-entered civil restraints due to a prior domestic violence incident to no more than 2 communications per day concerning only issues relating to the parties’ children. The trial court further found a FRO necessary due to plaintiff’s credibly testimony of earlier acts of domestic violence by defendant, which the trial court held demonstrated the reasonableness of plaintiff’s fear of defendant and the necessity of a FRO to protect her from future acts of domestic violence. On appeal, defendant argued that the conduct relied upon by the trial court to find a predicate act did not rise to the level of domestic violence, but was merely domestic contretemps. Defendant further argued that the trial court erred in finding plaintiff’s testimony credible, and that plaintiff failed to demonstrate a need for a FRO to protect her from imminent harm. The court found defendant’s arguments without merit, noting that violation of civil restraint could also be viewed from harassing conduct.

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Remember the real meaning of Memorial Day.

While we enjoy the unofficial start of summer, hopefully with family and friends, The Durst Firm asks that you take a moment to remember the true meaning of Memorial Day. Think about those families that can no longer be whole because a loved one paid the ultimate price for us.

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Log on to Facebook & get served with a lawsuit

Used by millions of people, Facebook is typically used to connect friends and family.  However, in another example of how technology and the law intersect, Facebook can now be uses to connect you with your legal adversaries!  This development is explained in the article in the NJ Law Journal that can be found utilizing the following link: http://www.njlawjournal.com/home/id=1202785980985#

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Technology and Domestic Violence

As technology advances, so must the concepts of what acts may constitute domestic violence.  As the case summarized below indicates, the surreptitious use of video cameras, tracking devices, and similar devices may qualify as an act of domestic violence. This can be true even if the victim finds out about the surveillance after the fact.

 

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE : COVERT SURVEILLANCE

The judge found the very placement of hidden surveillance equipment was designed to check plaintiff’s movements and created a climate of fear and anxiety for plaintiff, which constituted harassment. Further, the judge rejected defendant’s testimony as not credible. Defendant’s assertion he used cameras to monitor their mother’s physical health could not justify the secret placement of units in and around his sister’s living space or the number of units installed.

 

P.M. v. A.D.M., Jr., New Jersey App. Div., May 9, 2017

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