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  • Writer's pictureJudge Michael Donio

Ask the Judge: Who would I contact if my neighbor’s kid keeps climbing my tree?

Who would I contact if my neighbor’s kid keeps climbing my tree? I don’t want to be liable if they fall. I texted both parents and grandparents asking them to stop. They said they would talk to the child, but each day the child climbs the tree.

This could be a problem for you if the child climbed the tree on your property and was injured. Here are some of the things that I think you can do. You can go see the parents rather than just have texted them and advise them that you are concerned about their child being injured along with the fact that your child is trespassing on their property.

You did not indicate whether or not you have a fence separating the properties. That is always another alternative.

The next thing that I would do is call the local police station to have it on record that you complained about the trespass and are concerned about liability. Tell the police you want to make a record of the complaint. Have the police go talk to the parents.

You can also put up a no trespassing sign that is visible to people coming on your property in the event someone is hurt.

Lastly, you can go so far as to probably advise your insurance company of this situation and all of the steps that you have taken to stop it. This way between being on record with the police, speaking with the parents in person, and notifying your insurance company about the problem, if the child were to be hurt on your property, I think you would have adequately defenses.

Like I said, I don’t know if your property is surrounded by a fence which would make the trespass that much more an issue. But I would at least do the above. The most important of which is to go see the parents because it seems as thought they can’t control their child. You do not mention the age of the child. But whatever the age is, the parents should absolutely put a stop to this before the child does get hurt.

My girlfriend and I will be married this fall. We want to change both of our last names after the marriage to start our own family name. What do we need to do to accomplish this? Sometimes I feel like this divorce is taking forever.

From your question, it looks as though one or both of you are going through a divorce. Until that divorce is finalized, I don’t recommend you doing anything with the name change. A lot of times when you are divorced, it is actually in the Judgement of Divorce for example that a wife will resume her maiden name. That makes it rather easy because you can use that Judgment of Divorce to do that with social security, your driver’s license, and the like.

Other than that, however, you have to go through the name change process. You can do that alone, but I don’t recommend it. There are many many forms that need to be filled out and the application has to be published in newspapers and things of that nature to give notice specially to people who may be creditors of yours that you are changing your name that you have to indicate that it is not for any type of illegal purpose.

However, it is easily done as long as you follow all of the rules and regulations. Therefore, as soon as your divorce is finalized, and you get remarried, I would hire an attorney to go through that process for you. Please note, that there are publications fees as well as the legal fees that you will incur because of the notices that have to go into newspapers. Good luck.

Judge Michael Donio served as a New Jersey State Superior Court Judge for 20 years before retiring on July 31, 2015. He now operates a legal consulting and mediation firm on the White Horse Pike. Donio can be reached by calling (609) 481-2919. Send your questions for his columns to


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