How New Jersey Courts Determine Physical Custody

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When you and the other parent of your child separate or divorce, a court may be called upon to determine with which parent your child will primarily reside. Contrary to popular misconceptions, the child’s wishes regarding where he or she would like to live are not determinative: instead, the court will create a parenting plan that it believes is in the best interest of the child. This parenting plan will identify the parent with whom the child will primarily live and set out a visitation schedule for the other parent.

What are the “Best Interest of the Child?”

Most New Jersey parents believe they know what is best for their child. Nevertheless, when called upon to determine physical custody issues, a family court can consider but is not bound to accept either parent’s thoughts as to what is in the child’s best interest. The court will look to a number of factors in determining with whom your child shall live and what is the most appropriate visitation schedule. These factors can include: (1) the child’s age and maturity; (2) who has been the primary caregiver for the child; (3) if placing the child with one parent over the other would require the child to move and/or change schools; (4) the work schedules and availability of each parent; (5) which parent is more likely to encourage the child to develop a healthy and appropriate relationship with the other child; (6) the wishes of the child, if the child is old enough and sufficiently mature to articulate such desires; and (7) any other factor the court may deem appropriate.

Controlling Custody Determinations

Most courts will accept and abide by a custody agreement and parenting time arrangement that both parents in a dispute have accepted. Therefore, it may be beneficial in your case to determine if the other parent would be willing to join you in making specific recommendations to the court. Not only can joint recommendations save you and the other parent considerable time and money litigating custody, but it can also lead to a more lasting and permanent arrangement (which is, ultimately, better for the child).

If you are separating or divorcing the other parent of your child, prepare for potential custody issues by speaking with Giro Attorneys at Law, LLC. We will speak with you about your custody goals, discuss potential evidence and testimony that can support those goals, and will advocate forcefully to help you achieve these goals. Contact us today by calling (201) 255- 4417.

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