Oftentimes in typical family life, circumstances unfold between grandparents and their children that result in a "cutting of ties," so to speak, where contact ceases not only with the children, but with grandchildren as well.  By that time, grandparents have commonly formed loving ties and bonds with the grandchildren that are at a risk of breaking due to the conflict with the parents.  What are a grandparents’ rights to have visitation with the grandchildren in such a situation?  The answer can be found in New Jersey’s Grandparent Visitation Statute, N.J.S.A. 9:2-7.1, which imposes a difficult burden upon the grandparents to establish a right to visitation because the grandparent is essentially seeking to intrude upon the overwhelming strength of a parent’s fundamental, constitutional right to raise their children.   


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In the recent published decision of Crespo v. Crespo (A-28-09, decided February 18, 2010), the New Jersey Supreme Court upheld in a 7-0 decision the constitutionality of New Jersey’s laws against domestic violence. The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, N.J.S.A. 2C25-17 to -35, is the law that governs domestic violence cases arising in NJ. The act is found in section 2C of the New Jersey Statutes Annotated, which is the criminal section. Notwithstanding that domestic violence is found in the criminal section of the State’s statutes, the rights and procedures afforded those individuals who are accused of domestic violence are not the same as those afforded individuals accused of other crimes.

In Crespo v. Crespo, Mr. Crespo appealed the issuance of a domestic violence final restraining order (“FRO”) against him, alleging the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act violated his constitutional rights, including: (1) not being afforded certain procedural rights at trial – including no jury, a trial be held within 10 days, and limited discovery; (2) the preponderance of evidence standard was not the correct standard – it should require clear and convincing evidence; and (3) once a final restraining order was entered – seizure of his firearms violated his Second Amendment right to bear arms.


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