During a divorce proceeding, when there are minor children still in the home, one of the most difficult and emotionally challenging decisions involves custody and visitation. As a parent, you want to have regular and meaningful access to your children. But what does that look like? How will the court make a decision if you and your ex cannot agree on an arrangement?
The Number One Priority—the Best Interests of the Child
In New Jersey, as in every state, any decision in a divorce proceeding that will potentially affect a minor child must give ultimate priority to what is considered “the best interests of the child.” It has long been a guiding principle that the best interests of the child include regular and ongoing contact with both parents. There are, though, other factors that may have an impact on the court’s decision:
- The age, gender, physic al and mental health of the child
- The strength of the emotional bond the child has established with either parent
- The routine to which the child has become accustomed and the impact that changing that routine would have on the child
- Whether there are concerns about the mental or physical health of either parent
- Whether there have been allegations or evidence of domestic violence or abuse committed by either parent
- Whether there are concerns about the lifestyle of either parent, such as evidence of drug use, illegal activity or inappropriate sexual contact or exposure
- The preference of the child, depending on the age of the child—most courts consider a 12-year-old capable of participating in the decision
Contact the Law Offices of McNerney & McAuliffe
Contact our office by e-mail or call us at 201-525-1980. All major credit cards are welcome. We will travel to meet with you, if necessary. Evening and weekend consultations are available upon request.