Custody issues are the primary concern for most parents going through a divorce. When deciding custody, the court’s primary concern is to find the best situation for the child. In most cases here in New Jersey, the court wants both parents to continue to be involved in the child’s life.
The two main aspects in the Garden State are determining the child’s physical custody, which is deciding where they will live, and legal custody, meaning whether one or both parents are responsible for making all decisions for the child.
What factors do courts consider?
New Jersey takes several factors into account when determining custody in the best interests of the child. These factors include:
- History of domestic violence or drug abuse
- How well the child gets along with their parents
- The child’s preference, for those 12 and older
- Whether the home environment is stable
- The mental fitness of both parents
- The employment and incomes of both parents
Types of custody
There are two main types of custody considered by New Jersey courts:
- Joint custody: A child can live with one parent or split time between households and both parents make medical and educational decisions together
- Sole custody: A child lives with one parent and receives “appropriate” time with the non-custodial parent
Working out visitation schedules
New Jersey courts assume children are more likely to thrive when spending time with both parents unless a history of violence or substance abuse exists. Courts do not usually provide parenting time guidelines and parents are encouraged to work those schedules out on their own.
Under state law, grandparents also have visitation rights and may ask a court for an order to spend time with the child. This is called “grandparenting time,” and a court can grant that request over the objections of one or both parents as long as it is in the best interests of the child.
Finding the best arrangement
Divorce is a trying time for everyone involved, but it can be most unsettling to young children whose sense of normalcy is disrupted. However, in many cases, divorce is the best option for everyone when spouses can no longer function together as a loving unit. An experienced and compassionate family law attorney can help you through every step of the process to create a stable and positive future for your child.