Determinants That Affect Who Keeps The Children

Written By Gary J. Natale

“Kids spell love ‘T-I-M-E’.”

John Crudele

How New Jersey Courts See Custody

While there are several good synonyms of the word “custody” that connote the financial, legal, and protective responsibilities such as “guardianship”, the definition that best articulates the aim of custody is “care”.  New Jersey courts see the goal of custody hearing as determining the “who”, “when”, “where”, and “how much” of giving children the best possible care.

Seeing custody as care (not simply a legal, financial burden) can help give you a healthy posture towards the process.  New Jersey courts start with the presumption that a child having both parents actively participating in his or her life is the ideal goal. Joint custody, then, is seen as being in the best interests of the child.

Joint Custody in New Jersey

Joint custody gives voice (and legal responsibility) to both parents when it comes to any critical decisions in the child’s life. This means open communication between the parents would be a vital component of joint custody. Deterrents to that kind of open dialogue will be taken into consideration.

Residential Custody

Part of custody hearings is determining where a child will live. Joint custody could mean the child resides with both parents equally, but in all likelihood he or she will live with one of you more than the other. Residential custody just means one parent is chosen as the parent of primary residence (PPR).

How Custody Is Determined

Making decisions as to what’s best for the child or children during divorce proceedings can be a difficult challenge. The answers to these questions are factors New Jersey courts will take into consideration when determining “who will take care of the kids”.

  • How old are the children?
  • How many children are there?
  • Does the child (age 12+) have a preference as to which parent to live with?
  • What is the current relationship of the child with each parent?
  • What is the current relationship of the child with siblings?
  • At what level will parents be able to communicate with each other?
  • How adversarial are the parents towards one another (can they work together)?
  • Is there any history of domestic violence?
  • What is the health of each parent?
  • Does the child have any special needs?
  • Does the child have any health challenges?
  • Where will each parent live (in proximity to one another)?
  • How willing is each parent to accept the custody arrangements?
  • History of a parent’s unwillingness to cooperate with a custody plan

Money And What Matter

From time to time, we have clients that become so focused on the challenge of winning sole custody that they begin to focus on the wrong things. It is our belief that a parent who wishes to gain custody for financial reasons only (to elude potentially costly child support) has missed the point of custody entirely.  When parents put their children first, the focus becomes on providing them with something that cannot be reclaimed once it’s gone – your time.

Contact Us for a Free Consultation

For more information or to schedule an appointment with an experienced Essex County divorce attorney, please contact us.

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