Category: Marcia Silva

Judge Marcia Silva Discusses The Different Types of Child Custody

Judge Marcia Silva

With so many marriages ending in divorce today, the impact these cases have on the children cannot be ignored. One of the most complex and often stressful events during any separation is the question of child custody. While each year hundreds of thousands of Americans filing for divorce experience a custody battle, few possess the strong legal knowledge needed to navigate through this event. Marcia Silva, Esq. is an experienced attorney and former New Jersey Superior Court judge who served as a frequent panelist for the State Bar Association regarding child custody, support, and other family law issues. With more than twenty years of experience, Marcia Silva, Esq. hopes to share her knowledge and spread awareness regarding the different types of child custody to help families through this challenging transition.  

Physical Custody

Physical custody determines which parent the child lives with. A parent who is granted physical custody is often referred to as a custodial parent. If a parent is granted one more overnight per year than the other, he or she is referred to as the Parent of Primary Residence or “PPR,” an important distinction for child support calculations. The parent who is not the PPR is known as the Parent of Alternate Residence or “PAR.”  Parties may have any custody arrangement that works for them, including alternating weeks, a 2-3-2 schedule, a more “traditional” alternating weekend parenting time with the PAR, or any combination of these. Courts will generally enforce agreements reached by the parties as it relates to custody. 

Legal Custody

A parent with legal custody will be given the right to decide certain aspects of their child’s life, often regarding religion, schooling, medical treatments, sports activities, and social events. Legal custody is often independent of physical custody. If one parent is a custodial parent, they may not be given full decision-making authority. If only one parent has legal custody of their child, they will not need to receive approval from the co-parent on decisions involving the child.  This occurs when a parent is deemed unfit to care for their child, often due to previous legal charges, abuse, neglect, or addiction to illicit substances or alcohol. 

What We Can Learn from The Zoom CATastrophe

Millions of people around the world watched as Judge Roy Ferguson of the 394th District of Texas kept his composure during a Zoom call when attorney Rod Ponton appeared in a cat filter.  What many never saw or heard was Judge Ferguson’s subsequent tweet when he shared the video:

“IMPORTANT ZOOM TIP: If a child used your computer, before you join a virtual hearing check the Zoom Video Options to be sure the filters are off.  This kitten just made a formal announcement on a case in the 394th. “

“These fun moments are a by-product of the legal profession’s dedication to ensuring that the justice system continues to function in these tough times.  Everyone involved handled it with dignity, and the filtered lawyer showed incredible grace.  True professionalism all around.”

Courts have been functioning virtually for nearly a year and in that year, there have been stories of attorneys appearing from the beach wearing tank tops, litigants in bed wearing nothing but a bra, someone in a doctor’s office waiting room, kids waking parents up who were supposed to be on the Zoom, and my personal favorite: the litigant who walks around the block during the entire hearing, making everyone on the Zoom call dizzy.  So many of these could have been internet sensations, but I doubt any of them would have had the composure and “grace” that Mr. Ponton and Judge Ferguson did.

The CATastrophe teaches us that a court proceeding is a court proceeding regardless if you are in the actual courthouse.  The rules of professionalism should apply whether you are the attorney, litigant or a witness.  You should find a quiet room in your house (or use headphones). If you have to go outside, sit or stand still, or consider using your vehicle.  Many hearings have taken place from vehicles because that is the only place someone can find peace and quiet.

Remember the proceedings are being recorded.  The judge is going to make a decision based on what you are saying, so you want to make sure you are seen and heard.  There are no second chances; those are called appeals and in many cases are limited in scope, lengthy and costly, so now is the time to make your argument and present it well. And if you’re going to use a filter, may I suggest VSCO? I’ve heard it’s what a certain famous family uses to “keep up” with their social media. 😉