The Trial Court Erred by Not Referring Case to Mediation

                                 

In the case of D.A. v. R.C. after reviewing the record developed before the Family Part in a custody matter where there were disputed issues of fact, the Appellate Court agreed with defendant’s arguments and remanded this matter for the trial judge to refer this matter to mediation as required under Rule 5:8-1. The Appellate Court stated that ‘If mediation fails to resolve the custody and parenting time issues raised by the parties, the judge shall then conduct a plenary hearing to resolve the factual disputes contained in the parties’ account of events, and thereafter place on the record his factual findings and conclusions of law as required by N.J.S.A. 9:2-4(f) and Rule 1:7-4(a). As part of this hearing, the judge must comply with the requirements of Rule 5:8-6 by either interviewing the parties’ now sixteen-year-old son concerning the custody and parenting time issues raised by his parents, or otherwise place on the record the reasons for his decision not to interview this child. In reaching this decision, the judge must consider the factors outlined in N.J.S.A. 9:2-4(c), including “the preference of the child,” given his age and capacity to reason.’

To read entire opinion go to: http://law.justia.com/cases/new-jersey/appellate-division-published/2014/a4030-12.html

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