In every one of the fifty states, judges use a “best interest of the child” standard in deciding child custody cases. Some have criticized the standard because, to some extent, it requires judges to rely on their own subjective beliefs about what is best for the children. However, there are several factors that are universally considered by every judge, in every state.
Although this is certainly not as rigidly adhered to as it once was, younger children are generally placed with their mothers. If a baby is still nursing, a mother will most likely be award custody as long as there are no other serious considerations in play (for example a mother’s drug use). However, fathers’ rights are considered equally today when determining custody which is different than it was in the past.
If children are above a certain age (around the age of 12), the judge may ask them which parent they prefer to live with, and what their preferences are regarding visitation. There is some variance among states with regard to this factor, as some states believe it is best not to ask children to “pick favorites.” Sometimes, a third party known as a “custody evaluator” is used to ascertain a child’s preferences.
Placing children in the family home where they were raised can often help maintain a sense of stability and continuity for children. Courts are sensitive to this. Proximity to an ex-spouse’s home may also lead to more visitation time, as a judge may be more willing to order a more evenly divided joint custody plan if a child is close to their school and activities with either parent.
A parent who has always worked long hours or frequently traveled is unlikely to have a judge grant custody if an ex-spouse has been a fit primary caregiver. Also, the more cooperative of the two parents may have an edge in a custody dispute, as the judge will see this as a positive influence on the child.
If there is clear evidence of abuse or neglect, a judge will likely limit the offending parent’s contact with their children.
If you are involved in a child custody dispute, our Franklin child custody lawyers at the Law Offices of Kisha M. Hebbon, LLC are prepared to zealously advocate for your custody rights. Child custody in New Jersey can be extremely complex, and it takes an experienced lawyer like Kisha M. Hebbon to win the results you need. Do not put something as important as your child’s care and well-being up to chance. To schedule a consultation, call us at 732-873-6464 or contact us online today.
We represent clients throughout New Jersey including Somerset County, Middlesex County, Union County and including but not limited to the towns of Somerset, Franklin, Bridgewater, New Brunswick, East Brunswick, Plainfield, Edison, Metuchen, Woodbridge, Piscataway, Old Bridge, Rahway, Linden, Elizabeth, Cranford, Summit, Union, Clark, Elizabeth, Berkeley Heights, and Scotch Plains.