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McCurrie McCurrie
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An interesting dispute over child custody and lost assets

A recent ruling by a New Jersey appeals court stands at an interesting crossroads between asset preservation and child custody issues. It is not uncommon for divorced spouses to disapprove of each other's parenting choices, but it is uncommon for one ex-spouse to sue the other over a child's alleged misdeeds.

A father in Essex County claimed that, before leaving town for South America, he told his former wife to keep their two sons out of his residence while he was away. The father's lawsuit against the mother claimed that she was negligent by not successfully barring their 17-year-old son from the father's home.

The teen apparently hosted a party at his dad's residence, and some money and $38,000 worth of jewelry were missing when the father returned. At the time, the parents reportedly shared joint custody of the boy.

A lower court had already dismissed the father's lawsuit, and an appeals court upheld the prior ruling. The appellate panel said that New Jersey doesn't have a policy or law to address the father's specific claim.

Divorcing or separated parents who are concerned about their children's behavior can speak with a family law attorney about creating an effective parenting plan that protects the kids' best interests and appropriately balances time between the parents.

As for jewels and other assets that are valuable to an estate, there are insurance policies to protect those assets. Many families count on the sentimental and monetary value of such items to pass down to their loved ones, and it isn't a bad idea to take the necessary steps to protect against unwanted surprises.

Source: NJ.com, "Parent can't sue other parent when child screws up, New Jersey court rules," Feb. 6, 2014

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