Custody issues often are some of the most contentious issues in any divorce. Stand-alone custody cases are no less bitterly fought. Each parent wants what is best for his or her child, and most are willing to fight for what he or she believes is best for the child. The court will ultimately make a custody and parenting time decision based on a list of factors contained in the New Jersey family code, all of which is meant to protect a child’s best interest, which is an inherently subjective inquiry. With such a subjective test in cases where tempers often run high, parents should be cautious of avoiding common mistakes that can severely damage their cases.
First, and most importantly, is controlling your temper and not allowing your emotions to get the best of you. While judges understand the inherently emotional nature of this type of case, they will also be looking to see if the parents conduct themselves like adults. In fact, whether the parents cooperate and work well together is one of the factors to be considered in a best interest determination. Parents need to take every measure to keep their cool, especially in front of the children.
The next mistake is using the child as a weapon against the other parent. Parents know that an easy way to injure the other spouse is to block access to the child or take steps to alienate the child from the other parent. Not only will these actions severely emotionally injure your child, they will undoubtedly severely damage your chances of successfully arguing your case for custody. Judges take parental alienation and blocking access extremely seriously. Putting your child in the middle of the custody dispute by bad mouthing the other parent or refusing him or her the opportunity to spend time with the other parent is an enormous mistake and should always be avoided.
Parents should also be cautious of making decisions that are really better for the parent instead of what is better for the child. For example, parents always want to maximize their time with their children, and in general this is positive for the child. However, parents need to be careful that their proposal for custody or visitation does not somehow inhibit the child’s ability to spend time with the other parent, which is just as important. Although taking a step back and reviewing the situation with a neutral eye is difficult, parents should try to keep what is best for the child always in the forefront.Child custody cases are difficult and can have many pitfalls. We have helped many clients successfully achieve their custody goals and obtain an order that protects their child’s best interest. Call us today at (732) 529-6937 for an appointment to talk about your child.