Child custody is one of the many important decisions made during a divorce. When negotiating child custody, divorcing parents should consider all facts to determine what works for them and their children.
It is ideal if divorcing spouses agree on parental responsibilities. When that is not possible, the courts may make the final decision.
1. Ex-spouses have to communicate if they share legal custody
Legal custody is the responsibility of making decisions regarding children’s health, education, religion and financial security. The courts encourage parents to share this duty, which means divorced couples must continue communicating and negotiating until their children reach adulthood. If parents disagree on specific issues, they may turn to the courts for assistance.
2. Children may have input in parenting time arrangements
When children reach age 12, a judge can consider their opinion regarding custody. This does not mean that the children make the final decision, though, as a judge still decides the final arrangement.
3. New Jersey encourages equal parental rights
While the children’s best interests are the priority of New Jersey courts, judges encourage parents to share physical and legal custody equally. The only time this may not happen is when one parent is not capable of providing care. If a parent has a history of drug use, alcohol abuse, or domestic violence or has not previously contributed to the children’s lives, the courts may consider the parent unfit for custody.
Understanding how courts decide child custody may encourage divorcing couples to work together to reach an acceptable arrangement.