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Parents with joint custody must make decisions together

When a divorce is finalized, many ex-spouses in Hudson, New Jersey, hope that the storm is over and that they can begin moving on with their lives. Though this may be the case for some divorced couples, it is certainly not the case for all of them, especially those that have children. When kids are involved, divorced parents often have to interact with each other on a regular basis, be it for visitation, custody exchanges or simply discussing major decisions. Discussing major decisions about your children with your ex is important and, if you jump the gun, you could wind up back in court.

That is exactly what happened in the case of a couple who married in 1999, had a child in 2006, another in 2007 and separated in 2008. Two years later, the couple was divorced. The mother returned to her surname after the finalization of the divorce was complete. The children were still young at this point and some time later, the mother began hyphenating their names on important documents like school and healthcare records. When the father found out, he was upset and filed a complaint in court, hoping to bar the use of a hyphenated name. In response, the woman dropped his surname from the hyphenated last name associated with the children and attempted to have their names legally changed to include her surname only.

The same year that the couple got divorced, a judge decided that she had the right to change the children's names. But an appeal from the father came soon afterward and she was blocked from doing so. That was when the New Jersey Supreme Court came into the picture and decided that it would address the case. According to the high court's ruling, the woman did not have the right to legally change the children's names without first proving that such a change would be in the best interest of the children. This is because the couple shared joint custody of the kids. All major decision-making regarding children involved in a joint custody arrangement should involve both parents, according to the ruling. If you have a child custody dispute and you do not know what to do, speak with an attorney about your situation. She or he may be able to help you determine the steps you need to take to get what you want.


Source: 
Philly.com, "N.J. high court rules on changing children's names" Barbara Boyer, Aug. 14, 2013

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