Continued from Divorce in New Jersey, Part 2
Superior Court, Family Practice Division
We take up where we left off, explaining the court system that handles family law issues. According to the court’s “Principles” page, “Cases involving criminal, civil and family law are heard in the Superior Court. The Superior Court is sometimes called the trial court because it is where trials are conducted. There is a Superior Court in each of New Jersey’s 21 counties. There are approximately 360 Superior Court trial judges in New Jersey.”
Family Court is a subdivision of Superior Court: “Family cases are civil cases in which the disputes involve children, spouses or domestic partners. Examples of family cases are those involving divorce, adoption, juvenile delinquency, child abuse, child support, and domestic violence. Most cases in the Family Court are decided by a judge instead of a jury.To protect the privacy of children, judges are permitted to close some types of Family Court cases to the public.”
The court provides a locator map and addresses of the various Superior Court vicinages: “There is a Superior court in each of New Jersey’s 21 counties. The Superior courts are grouped into 15 court districts called vicinages. Vicinage comes from the Latin word vicinus, and means vicinity, neighborhood or district. Addresses of local courthouses are available for printing or downloading.
Parenting Coordination Pilot program
The Supreme Court recently approved the operational details of a Parenting Coordinator Pilot Program for implementation in four vicinages – Bergen, Middlesex, Morris/Sussex, and Union.
A Parenting Coordinator is a qualified neutral person appointed by the court, or agreed to by the parties, to facilitate the resolution of day to day parenting issues that frequently arise within the context of family life when parents are separated.
The court may appoint a Parenting Coordinator at any time during a case involving minor children after a parenting plan has been established when the parties cannot resolve these issues on their own.
The Parenting Coordinator’s goal is to aid parties in monitoring the existing parenting plan, reducing misunderstandings, clarifying priorities, exploring possibilities for compromise and developing methods of communication that promote collaboration in parenting. The Parenting Coordinator’s role is to facilitate decision making between the parties or make such recommendations, as may be appropriate, when the parties are unable to do so.
The New Jersey court system provides an online Self-Help Center, according to which, “The services offered here include general information about representing yourself in court, what the court can and cannot do for you, contact information, brochures, forms and kits. The New Jersey Judiciary prepared these materials for individuals who choose to represent themselves in some legal matters. (Someone who chooses to represent himself or herself in a court proceeding is often referred to as pro se which is a Latin term that means for self.)
“The information provided may not be appropriate for your situation. It is not legal advice and should not be substituted for it. If you have legal questions you should contact a lawyer.”
What to expect if you file pro se
On its page “Things to Think About Before You Try to Represent Yourself in Court,” the court emphasizes, “While you have the right to represent yourself in court, you should not expect any special treatment, help, or attention from the court. You must still comply with the Rules of the Court, even if you are not familiar with them. [Click here for] a list of some things the court staff can and cannot do for you. Please read it carefully before asking the court staff for help.”
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