What factors does the court consider when determining custody?
For parents going through a divorce, issues involving children are often the most important and potentially the most contentious. Child custody arrangements within a divorce agreement can have both immediate and long-lasting impacts on the future of your family. Which begs the question, how exactly is child custody determined? There is a litany of factors which may play into a child custody hearing whether you have a court date or using an alternative conflict resolution method such as mediation.
The child custody attorneys of Jacobs Berger have extensive experience helping parents find amicable and amenable solutions to their child custody disputes. We view the divorce and family law process as an opportunity to help clients and their families build a foundation for their future. Our firm believes in offering dynamic and individualized legal service for our Morris County clients from towns like Morristown, Madison, Randolph, Denville, East Hanover, Dover, Morris Plains, and all of Northern New Jersey.
Child Custody Evaluation Attorneys Discuss Major Factors
It is the formal position of the New Jersey family courts that all legal decisions involving children will be made based on the best interests of the child. With this in mind, there is a long list of factors which may be used to determine the terms of your child custody agreement. Our Randolph child custody evaluation attorneys see a long list of factors brought up in the courtroom, and the following are amongst the most important:
- Parents’ relationship with one another, particularly regarding their ability to communicate and cooperate as co-parents
- The existing relationship between each parent and the child
- Desires of both the parents and the child (when the child is of appropriate age to state his or her desires)
- Age and number of children
- Any history of domestic violence by either parent or other family members
- Living situation of each parent
- The financial situation of each parent
- The ability of each parent to provide a safe, secure, and healthy environment for the child
- The ability of each parent to care for any special needs of the child
- Convenience factors such as parents’ proximity to school and to one another
These are by no means the only factors which may be considered in your case, but it does represent the type of information which a judge or mediator will need to know.
Child Custody Agreement Lawyers Define Child Custody Evaluations
Child custody agreements are generally decided as part of divorce disputes or between unmarried couples. In some cases, when child custody is either complex or contentious, a separate action known as a child custody evaluation may take place to allow for an even more detailed examination of your circumstances.
Child custody evaluations are commonly ordered by judges or may be requested by one or both co-parents during child custody proceedings. These evaluations are performed by specialists who may be court appointed or selected by parents. The evaluators are frequently child psychologists or other professionals who have been trained to advise on the best interests of children in regards to their family dynamic.
At the end of the evaluation process, a child custody evaluator will offer his or her recommendation. This does not have any concrete legal consequence, but may be heavily weighted by a judge when it comes time to finalize your child custody agreement.
Child Custody Considerations in Court vs. Mediation
Many individuals going through divorce proceedings in New Jersey may choose to resolve their child custody disputes using alternative methods including mediation. While mediation does offer a more flexible approach to conflict resolution, qualified mediators and mediation attorneys will be well acquainted with child custody statutes.
Therefore, it is generally the case that the same factors which will be considered in a courtroom will also hold weight in a mediation or arbitration. It is important to understand that while the above-listed factors will be heard, each case is considered separately, and there are no hard and fast rules. On a similar note, it is always an option for co-parents to draft their own child custody agreement at any time.
Contact our Child Custody Agreement Attorneys Today
At Jacobs Berger, our child custody agreement attorneys are committed to providing personalized and dynamic legal services for our Morris County clients from towns and across Northern New Jersey. Our firm will take the time to understand your unique needs and concerns before recommending a course of action. This dedication to the attorney-client relationship is what sets us apart from larger firms who offer cookie-cutter legal solutions.
If you have any questions regarding issues including child custody, child support, alimony, division of assets, or any other divorce or family law matter, please contact us online or by calling our Morristown offices at (973) 710-4366 today for a comprehensive and confidential case assessment.