Top 6 Child Custody Issues
There are so many factors that can drive a couple to divorce, and even once that decision is made, the division of assets and the dissolution of the marriage can be a drawn out and wearying process. Certain couples, though, must contend with an additional fact that inevitably complicates matters: child custody issues. Where will the child live? Which parent will be the primary custodial parent? Will custody be shared equally? Is one parent unfit to share custody? What does the child want? These are all questions with no simple answer, and even the most amicable of divorces may include a struggle over child custody.
If both parties in a divorce cannot come to an easy agreement over child custody, court proceedings will follow, with a judge intervening to determine where and with whom the child will live. In contested divorces, these hearings may be inevitable, and the spouses and the child alike will have to obey a ruling that none of them particularly appreciates. With our Morris County child custody attorney experienced in divorce law by your side, you may be able to avoid such a risky stage of your dispute. Whether you have begun to consider divorce or you have already filed papers, you should bear the following points in mind as you search for an attorney.
1. There Is No Deadline to Determine Child Custody, but You Should Do It as Quickly as Possible.
It is best to have divorce proceedings concluded within a year, and child custody proceedings concluded within six months. Courts are never known for moving quickly, but remember that, whether you are the plaintiff or the defendant, you have significant control over the process. You can make sure that all aspects of your divorce—including child custody—proceed quickly, minimizing your financial and emotional burdens, if you start by coming up with an action plan.
2. Child Custody Issues Can Complicate a Divorce, but It Is a Necessary Struggle.
The cost of a divorce always depends on the specifics: the more factors there are complicating a divorce case, the more expensive it will be to resolve them. Some complicating factors might be property and stock assets, inheritance or lottery winnings, or child custody and support. Because of this, you must have an action plan before you file: know what you and your spouse must contest, what you think is worth contesting, and what you can afford to contest.
3. Children’s Wishes Can Affect Multiple Aspects of a Divorce.
If spouses share a house or other property, one of two things could happen. Either partner could buy out the other’s share and retain ownership of the property while the other moves, or both parties can sell the house and split the profit. At this point, it is important to consider your children’s stability and best interests. Who gets custody? Where will the children go to school? What do they feel about the house? If the house is hotly contested or it seems no resolution is likely, consider how to maximize financial return for both parties.
4. There Are Several Types of Custody In New Jersey.
The Child Custody Laws in New Jersey prioritize providing minor children with “frequent and continuing contact” with both parents in the event of a divorce, dissolved marriage, or dissolution of a civil union. In most cases, the court will do its best to achieve a joint custody arrangement, but the child’s best interests come first. Legal custody pertains to a parent’s legal rights and obligations over a child’s general wellbeing. Physical custody pertains only to the child’s living arrangements. Shared custody also determines each partner’s level of child support. Joint custody indicates that both parents are involved in the child’s life. Sole custody refers to one parent having absolute control of the child’s life. These types of custodies overlap; two parents may have shared physical custody, for example, or only one parent may have sole legal custody.
5. A Profusion of Factors Are Taken into Account in a Child Custody Hearing.
At the beginning of a child custody hearing in New Jersey, the court will be officially unbiased. When determining legal and physical custody, however, the judge will consider many variables. While not all factors are weighed equally, some could move the court to settle on a sole custody arrangement. The factors that courts consider in determining child custody issues include any history of domestic violence, each parent’s ability to agree and communicate in decisions that affect the child, each parent’s openness to receiving custody, the child’s relationship with siblings and parents, what the child wants, the quality and continuity of the child’s education, and each parent’s home environment, among many other elements.
6. Remember Above All Else That the Child Comes First.
Child custody cases are distinct from other areas of divorce and family law because of one factor: instead of seeking an equitable arrangement between just two people, the court works on behalf of a third party—the child. While your interests in a child custody case are just as legitimate as those of your spouse, it is imperative to remember that the child always comes first. Aim to show the court that you can provide a safe and nurturing environment for the child, that your behavior and lifestyle support the child’s interests and development, and that you have taken an active interest in your child’s life.
In many divorces, there are at least three parties with their own desires: both spouses and the child. Because these desires often conflict, child custody issues and battles can persist for weeks or even months and require judicial intervention. This may be a fact of more bitter divorces, but a qualified Morris County child custody attorney can help to avoid such disadvantageous circumstances. A lawyer experienced in divorce law will serve as your strongest ally as you cope with the financial and emotional hardship of your child custody battle.
For immediate guidance with your child custody issues, review our Definitive New Jersey Divorce Guide.
Christopher Leon Garibian, Esq. is a partner in the matrimonial and family law department of Weiner Law Group LLP. He has over 19 years of experience handling a multitude of Divorce and Family Law Matters throughout New Jersey. He is passionate about family law and takes pride in his ability to effectuate real change in the lives of his clients. He is certified by the State Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Attorney. If you are in need of an experienced Divorce Attorney or Family Law Attorney in NJ, contact us today for compassionate, long lasting legal solutions.