Some Notes on New Jersey Divorce and Child Custody
Parents who are processing their divorce in New Jersey need to discuss and agree on child custody. Child custody is more than an agreement among the spouses as to whom the child or children will live with. Divorce laws in New Jersey provide that the child’s best welfare must be primary in promulgating child custody decisions.
The parents may firm up a plan on how the children will be nurtured and their needs fulfilled as they grow. They must submit their custody and visitation schedule to the Superior Court for evaluation, which most likely would get a nod when law criteria are satisfied. The New Jersey government provides much freedom for parents to fashion the custody plan for their child.
Besides the basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter, New Jersey divorce statutes consider happiness, security and home environment as among the general factors in making child custody decisions. Other factors that the court takes into account are as follows:
. The parents’ ability to agree, communicate and cooperate in matters relating to the child;
. The parents’ willingness to accept custody and any history of unwillingness to allow parenting time not based on substantiated abuse;
. The interaction and relationship of the child with its parents and siblings;
. The history of domestic violence, if any; the safety of the child and the safety of either parent from physical abuse by the other parent;
. The preference of the child when of sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent decision;
. The needs of the child;
. The stability of the home environment offered;
. The quality and continuity of the child’s education;
. The fitness of the parents;
. The geographical proximity of the parents’ homes;
. The extent and quality of the time spent with the child prior to or subsequent to the separation;
. The parents’ employment responsibilities;
. The age and number of the children. A parent shall not be deemed unfit unless the parents’ conduct has a substantial adverse effect on the child;
Depending on the agreement, parents have the authority to make decisions for and in behalf of their children. Generally, legal custody is an obligation that parents share but a dysfunctional spouse may be inhibited (or may voluntarily default) to take part in this responsibility.
So that there will not be miscommunications and to avoid possible cause of conflicts, both parties must come to an understanding as to what decisions that the parents will make corporately, what decisions are relegated to a specific parent. When they are not in agreement over a decision for the child, parents should have an option or course of action.
The court that oversees the implementation of the New Jersey divorce laws is apt to approve the custody agreement that the parents have willfully and harmoniously designed. If the spouses fail to come up with a common plan, the court will determine it on the primary basis of what is best for the child and the practical factors that were listed earlier.