Divorce is never easy and can be especially difficult when children are involved. Some splits are amicable and the couple make their own child custody arrangements. When that is not possible, the issue of child custody can be a very painful one and can lead to unpleasant outcomes in New Jersey.
Siblings from Westfield have come forward with their own story in an effort to prevent what happened to them from happening to others. The brother and sister had been living with their father during the parents’ divorce. The day the custody ruling was made, the judge decided that the father had alienated the children against their mother and awarded custody to the mother. As part of the arrangement the children, then 13 and 15, were required to attend a program called Family Bridges in California.
The children were not allowed to say goodbye to their dad and were taken directly to the airport. The family reunification program, Family Bridges, tried to convince the siblings that their dad had alienated them from their mother. They were forbidden from talking to their father for at least 90 days, and that turned into three years. They also said they were denied internet access and had no contact with anyone outside of the program. They did return to New Jersey after four days but the court kept them from their father for three years until an appeal allowed him to see his children.
There is little information on how effective these programs are. One such program acknowledges that of 40 children who have participated, nine have relationships with both parents. The siblings who shared their story did so in hopes that judges will not put other children through what they went through. If a person is struggling with divorce and having issues with resolving child custody issues, an experienced New Jersey family law attorney may be able to provide guidance to resolve the issues.