Child custody issues often generate competitive bickering and attempts by one spouse to punish the other by limiting his or her parenting time. Unless custody represents a real danger to the child, I never advocate or support custody battles,or using children for negotiating or punishing.
I favor settling and mediating family law cases amicably when possible instead of going to court. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for your children that you try to reach an amicable solution to child custody issues. Most separating or divorcing parents want what’s best for each child, and courtroom fighting can leave your family broken and emotionally bereft. Establishing a lifelong joint relationship with a spouse or co-parent in raising children is critical to your children’s long-term best interests. As a trained mediator and divorce attorney in freehold, NJ, I offer my services at reasonable rates to find solutions that are best for your family.
Understanding Your Custodial Options Under New Jersey Law
Child custody in New Jersey consists of both physical and legal custody. Physical custody refers to the daily care of the child. Legal custody involves making important decisions like religious affiliation, education, and school activities.
In a majority of cases, parents share joint legal and physical custody because it is usually in the children’s best interests to have a strong relationship with each parent. Under certain circumstances, one parent may be awarded sole physical or legal custody. Sole legal and physical custody is generally reserved in cases where one parent is deemed to be unfit, or where there is abuse, neglect, drug history, etc.
The children’s specific parenting time schedule is often agreed upon by the parties. Parenting time usually includes a schedule that combines evenings, nights, weekends and holidays. If you can’t agree on a schedule, a judge often orders both you and your spouse to submit a custody plan to the court for consideration. You may also be required hire an expert to conduct a custody evaluation.
Of course every family has different schedules, and no two parenting time schedules will be identical. It is almost universally true, though, that the more specific the schedule the better. When negotiating a parenting schedule, you should consider the following factors, which would also be considered by a judge if you go to court:
- Custody is awarded on the best interests of each child.
- The physical, mental and emotional health of each parent is considered.
- Geographic location in connection with visitation issues are reviewed by the judge.
- The age and maturity of each child also factor into the court’s decision.
- Older children’s custodial preferences.
Why I Endorse Mediation Efforts for Deciding Child Custody
Most children desperately want to continue their relationships with both parents. Regardless of any court’s decision, children usually try to connect with both parents. Both parents typically stay involved with their children for the rest of their lives, so establishing a friendly, non-confrontational child custody arrangement works best for any child’s long-term well-being.
- Solving your problems with negotiation or mediation sets a precedent for resolving future disputes.
- Mediation provides tools and resources that you can use to resolve conflicts.
- Behaving civilly sets a good example for children.
Preparing for a Positive Custody Arrangement
In New Jersey, both parents must be considered equally for child custody. Judges determine custodial and parenting time arrangements based on a number of factors, always focusing on the children’s best interests.
The best thing you can do for you children during and after divorce is to put your personal differences aside. This will positively impact your children’s’ well-being more than you can ever know. Putting your differences aside will also impress a judge in the unfortunate event that a judge is deciding your custody arrangement. You should involve yourself deeply in your children’s education and extracurricular activities.
Contact me today for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your custody case. I’ll help you understand your options, negotiate an agreement, or fight for your children’s best interests in court if necessary.