Judge gavel and colourful letters regarding child custody, family law concept

Litigation over issues of child custody can be a highly emotionally charged
process. Both parents want what is best for their children, and it is
optimal if the parents can come to an amicable agreement regarding what
best suits their children. Unfortunately, this is not always possible,
and that is when a trial court will have to make the decision on who has
custody, how often parenting time will be, and any other child-related
issue. When making a decision on custody, a trial court will be guided
by what is in the child’s best interest.

“Best interest” in this context is actually a legal term of
art. New Jersey law has a set of very particular factors that a judge
will examine. These factors include:

– the parents’ ability to communicate and agree

– the parents’ ability to accept a custody order and not block
parenting time

– the way the child interacts with his or her parents and siblings

– Any history of domestic violence

– Preference of the child, if the child is of sufficient age to make
the decision

– Needs of the child

– Stability of the proposed home environment

– Quality and continuity of the child’s education

– How close the parents’ homes are to each other

– Quality and amount of time each parent spent with the child before
the separation

– Each parent’s employment and responsibilities

– Age and number of children

Children crave and require stability and continuity. Obviously the factors
above are designed with stability in mind. Courts will strive to keep
the child’s home life as stable as possible, even though a divorce
or family splitting up is an unstable time, by its very nature. It’s
also important to note that the parents’ behaviors weigh in. If
parents can cooperate and treat each other respectfully, despite the divorce
or separation, the courts will keep that in mind when determining how
to divide parenting time. Courts may also give some deference to the fact
that one parent historically was the primary caregiver, and keep that
in mind when making a custody decision. However, both parents have equal
rights to the children.

A child may voice his or her preference to the court if that child is of
sufficient maturity to do so. However, a child’s preference is only
a factor; a child does not “choose” where he or she wants
to live, although a court will take the preference into account.

The ultimate issue of what is in a child’s best interest is a subjective
subject. It is important to have an
to provide insight and guidance when making a child custody case. Contact
us today at (732) 529-6937 to discuss your children and your goals.

About the Author


John Nachlinger is a co-founder and managing attorney of Netsquire, a family law firm focused on streamlining divorces through effective mediation, settlement drafting, and court filing assistance. As a New Jersey Supreme Court Certified Matrimonial Law Attorney and Qualified Mediator, John guides couples toward equitable agreements without the cost and stress of litigation.

Recognized as a New Jersey Super Lawyer for over a decade, John’s client-focused approach aims to foster understanding during challenging transitions. With a background spanning top law journals, judicial clerkships, and boutique family law firms, John now applies his analytical skills to create workable solutions for all parties. His mediation services reshape the divorce journey by prioritizing compassion and compromise.

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