Divorce: What You Should Know About Child Custody
Divorce can be very emotional and stressful time for a spouse. Not only can divorce have a demanding and taxing effect on the spouse but the emotions and stressful time during the divorce proceedings may be exposed on the children of the family. If the parties to a divorce do have children, the children in most instances become a central importance to a spouse or both spouses. As such, disputes over child custody and child support may arise and often times can be heavily disputed. It is important that a party to a divorce not be left unmindful and unaware of the factors and procedures that are involved within their own divorce proceeding. If you have retained a divorce attorney, communication with your attorney is important as you will be in better position as to understand the basics of your divorce proceedings and the factors involved within certain disputes that may arise during your divorce proceeding. This article will discuss some basics factors you should be aware of regarding the Superior Court’s determination of a custody award.
It is the State of New Jersey’s public policy that both parents have continuing and frequent contact with their children and regard to public interest encourages parents to share the rights and responsibilities of raising their children. Should parties not be able to agree on any particular custody arrangements, the matter may very well be heard before the Superior Court Judge in the county your action was filed. The Superior Court Judge will determine the legal and physical custody of the children to be awarded. In its determination, the Superior Court will examine and review several nonexclusive, statutory factors pursuant to N.J.S.A. 9:2-4. Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 9:2-4, the court will assess and review the (1) parents’ ability to agree, communicate and cooperate in matters relating to the child; (2) parents’ willingness to accept custody and any history of unwillingness to allow visitation that is not based upon substantiated abuse; (3) interactions and relationship of the child with its parents and siblings; (4) any history of domestic violence; (5) safety of the child and the safety of either parent from physical abuse by the other parent; (6) preference of the child if the child is of sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to make an intelligent decision; (7) needs of the child; (8) stability of the home environment offered; (9) quality and continuity of the child’s education; (10) fitness of the parents; (11) geographical proximity of the parents’ homes; (12) extent and quality of the time spent with child prior to or subsequent to the separation; (13) parents’ employment responsibilities; (14) age and number of children.
The Superior Court will weight the interests and wishes of the parents and the child, the parents and child interaction with one another, the home environment, the factors listed above, and any other relevant information that the Superior Court will access and review in its determination of a legal and physical custody award. Although it is public policy that the parents have frequent and continuous contact with their child and encourage splitting parenting rights and responsibilities, the ultimate concern of the Superior Courts of New Jersey and the State of New Jersey is to establish a legal and physical custody award that is in the “best interests” of the child. There are many complexities that are involved within your divorce proceeding and it is very important that you have proper representation from a New Jersey Divorce Attorney, stay properly informed and aware of your divorce proceeding, and understand your rights.