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Extreme case in New Jersey illustrates domestic violence dangers

A child custody dispute can be difficult even in the best circumstances. This type of dispute arouses very strong emotions and is a common cause of domestic violence. Children often become the target of a parent's frustration during an unresolved custody dispute.

An ongoing trial in New Brunswick clearly illustrates this issue. A man who formerly resided in Atlantic City is accused of throwing his 3-month-old daughter from the Driscoll Bridge into the Raritan River in February 2010. Her body was discovered several weeks later.

On Aug. 28, the mother testified in the trial. She said that she moved out of the father's apartment in January 2010, taking their daughter with her. The mother told the father that he could only see his daughter if a third person was present and that the visits could only take place at the home of the child's maternal grandmother.

According to prosecutors, the man abducted his daughter from the grandmother's apartment in February 2010. The mother had sole custody of her daughter at the time and was seeking a restraining order against the father when he abducted the infant. He is charged with murder, attempted murder, aggravated assault, kidnapping and child endangerment.

One parent having sole custody generally means that that parent can make all decisions regarding a child, including visitation, without consulting with the other parent. Unfortunately, without a restraining order in place, an unwanted parent can still get away with coming into contact with the other parent or the child. This terrible situation illustrates the extremity of some domestic violence situations.

To protect themselves and their children, parents who have been victimized by or anticipate domestic violence are encouraged to seek a protective order as soon as possible. It is also wise for custodial parents to be fully aware of their own parental rights as well as those of the non-custodial parent, as drawing a legal line in the sand is sometimes necessary to protect one's family.

Source: The Press of Atlantic City, "Mother testifies in trial of former Atlantic City man accused of tossing baby off bridge," Aug. 30, 2012

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