Child custody and time-sharing arrangements are among the most hotly contested disputes in divorce cases. In addition to putting your rights as a parent and your ability to foster a close, loving relationship with your child in jeopardy, decisions made during these cases have the potential to put the child at risk of physical or emotional harm. It is vitally important to have an experienced New Jersey child custody attorney on your side to gather evidence, to defend you in negotiations, and to make compelling arguments before the judge in your case.
Four Factors in Child Custody Proceedings
Under Section 9:2-4 of the New Jersey Statutes, the primary concern of the court in child custody matters is making sure the best interests of the child are served. At the same time, the court also supports the rights of both parents to play an active and engaged role in the child’s life. In these cases, parents may negotiate and agree to a parenting plan.
If they are unable to do so, the court will decide on whether to award primary custody to one parent, while the other has visitation, or to allow for joint parenting arrangements. Factors that are a consideration when making these decisions include:
- Each parent’s current and prior role in the child’s life. One of the parents may have played a more active role in the child’s life, supporting them at school, taking them to the doctor, and generally being the one to have the most interaction with them. In these cases, the child may be more comfortable having that parent continue as the primary caregiver, while the other gets visitation time over weeknights and weekends.
- Their ability to provide financially for the child. If a parent lacks the resources to provide a home or other material items the child needs, this will naturally impact child custody proceedings. However, all parents are legally obligated to financially support their offspring, regardless of their situation. These amounts vary depending on the child custody arrangements made and the New Jersey Child Support Enforcement Program can help ensure this debt is paid.
- Their ability to cooperate with the other parent. In order for joint parenting arrangements to be successful, each party must show an ability and the willingness to cooperate with the other. If one of the parties is argumentative, disruptive, or shows a refusal to comply with court orders issued in the case, this could impact them in custody proceedings.
- The existence of any behaviors that could put the child at risk. As the child’s health and safety are the primary concern in child custody cases, any behaviors or actions on the part of either parent which could put them in harm’s way will be a factor. This includes accusations of domestic abuse, either against the child or the other parent, as well as issues such as drug and alcohol addiction or a criminal record.
In cases in which children are older and able to reasonably form opinions for themselves, their preference may also be a consideration in awarding primary custody to either parent.
Let Our New Jersey Child Custody Attorney Assist You
Child custody cases are often complex and have the potential to impact all involved for years to come. At the Law Office Of Jordan B. Rickards, we can gather evidence and make effective legal arguments in your case, helping to secure a custody arrangement that is in both you and your child’s best interests. To discuss your situation and the options available, call or contact our New Jersey child custody attorney online to request a confidential, one-on-one consultation today.