There are hundreds of child custody hearings that take place in New Jersey every day, but one hearing that took place 25 years ago has now captured nationwide attention. That particular hearing involved Nancy Dunsavage, who left the courthouse after the child custody hearing with her 6-year-old daughter.
Dunsavage moved to Nevada, where she changed her name to Debbie Reed and her daughter's name to Melissa Reed. She left the courthouse on August 3, 1984, and on June 20 the following year, a prosecutor in Somerville secured an indictment for her. Dunsavage ultimately settled down in Nevada, and no one would have been any the wiser until the day her daughter decided to get married and required a marriage license. Reed visited a Nevada attorney to file a petition for name change on behalf of both the women. It was then that Nevada authorities realized that Melissa, whose earlier name was Eva Marie Fiedler, had been registered as missing since 1984, and that there was a warrant for Dunsavage.
Dunsavage has been arraigned on interference with child custody, which is a fourth degree offense. She pleaded not guilty to those charges, and has since been released on a $2,500 bail.
Issues relating to child custody and parenting time can be some of the most challenging rising out of a divorce. They can also be some of the most emotional. While New Jersey laws allow each parent to have equal rights in the custody of the child, only one parent can be the parent of primary residence at any point in time. A number of factors will be considered when a court decides on child custody matters, but most important of these are the best interests of the child.
If you are involved in a child custody dispute in New Jersey, the family lawyers at Helmer Paul Conley and Kasselman can help you protect your rights, while obtaining the best possible result that benefits the child.