When parents separate or divorce, the issue of custody must be addressed. Children are the most important aspect of a parent's life and both parents usually want to spend as much time as possible with their children post-separation. This is why it can be difficult for parents to come up with an agreement in child custody cases.
If parents cannot cooperate, they will have to turn to the Court to help them make a decision. The Court determines custody based on what is in the child's best interests. Knowing what factors the court looks at when they make this decision can help parents understand the process better.
In New Jersey, Courts prefer that both parents be involved in their children's lives following a divorce or separation. Only in cases where abuse or neglect are present (or any other situation that puts the children in harm’s way), do the Courts limit or put conditions on a child’s interaction with a parent.
When the Courts decide on a custody arrangement, they have one goal in mind - to make a decision that will be in the best interest of the child. The way this is determined is by applying different factors to each case.
These factors include:
- The parents’ ability to agree, communicate and cooperate in matters relating to the child;
- The parents’ willingness to accept custody and any history of unwillingness to allow visitation not based on substantiated abuse;
- The interaction and relationship of the child with its parents and siblings;
- The history of domestic violence, if any;
- The safety of the child and the safety of either parent from physical abuse by the other parent;
- The preference of the child when of sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent decision;
- The needs of the child;
- The stability of the home environment offered;
- The quality and continuity of the child’s education;
- The fitness of the parents;
- The geographical proximity of the parents’ homes;
- The extent and quality of the time spent with the child prior to or subsequent to the separation;
- The parents’ employment responsibilities; and
- The age and number of children.
If both parents can agree on a custody arrangement and parenting plan, the Court will usually approve it. However, if neither parent can agree, the Court may require each parent to submit a custody proposal in addition to ordering a custody evaluation with a professional appointed by the Court. The professional will issue a report and a hearing will take place for the Court to determine what is best for the children. If you are facing a situation where there will be a custody hearing or trial, it is important to be represented by an attorney who has experience in these types of cases.
If you are going through a custody battle, it is wise to seek assistance from an experienced East Brunswick child custody lawyer. Rozin | Golinder Law understands your rights and the needs of your child. We will do everything we can to protect you and your child's best interests.
If you have a question about your child custody case, contact Rozin | Golinder Law at (732) 810-0034 today.