Can a Father Win a Custody Battle?
In a divorce or separation, the foremost issue is typically that of child
custody and visitation. Parents always want what is best for their children
and want a parenting plan order that reflects that. In some situations,
the father of the child or children may believe that he can provide a
more suitable home environment for the children than the mother. Although
some people seem to believe that a father cannot win a custody battle,
this is not the case.
A determination of child custody or visitation is made based on what is
in the best interest of the child. In New Jersey, the best interest factors
can be found in NJSA 9:2-4. The list of potential factors is long and
not exclusive, meaning the court can consider any other set of facts that
the court may deem relevant. It also means a parent seeking custody does
not need to prove each of the elements, just that those are relevant and
important factors the court will consider. Notably absent from the list
of best interest factors is that the mother or father has an automatic
advantage. In fact, the sex of the parent seeking custody is not a factor at all.
In the past, the mother has typically been the one to stay at home with
the children and has been the primary caregiver for the children. This
is why historically the mother was typically the one awarded primary custody
of a child while the father received visitation. However, times have changed.
There is no preference in the law to award the mother custody, particularly
if the father has been the primary caretaker.
Even if the mother has traditionally been the primary caregiver, this does
not mean that a father cannot obtain primary custody of the children.
If the mother is unstable or has no ability to provide a safe home for
the children following the separation, this could mean the father would
win custody. However, even if the the mother is not unstable, the law
has determined that it is in the child’s best interest to have a
continuing relationship with both parents. Stability is a paramount consideration
for children, and the court will place heavy emphasis on a parent’s
ability to provide it. However, absent substance abuse or untreated mental
health issues, a father can be designated as the custodial parent if the
circumstances warrant it.
If you are facing a custody battle, you need the help of an experienced
attorney. Call us today at (732) 529-6937 and we can talk about your children
and how to protect their best interests.