It is hard to see your child get in the middle of your divorce battle. However, they may just have an opinion on what they want the outcome to be. Follow along to find out whether your child can tell a judge what custody decision they want and how a proficient Bergen County child custody attorney at McNerney & McAuliffe can help you navigate this situation.
Can my child tell a judge what they want?
In the state of New Jersey, your child cannot independently make a decision on which parent they live with until they reach the age of 18. However, if you and your spouse are undergoing a divorce before they reach the age of 18, they still may be able to express to a New Jersey family judge what their preference is for parental living arrangements. Evidently, the more mature your child is, the more a judge will take their preferences seriously.
So, if your child is between the ages of eight to 17, a judge will likely schedule private interviews with them. Here, a judge may take your child’s version of facts seriously and may attempt to accommodate your child’s preferences as much as possible. Though, they are not obligated to follow these preferences if they are not in your child’s best interest. For example, if your child expresses that they wish to primarily live with your spouse, but your spouse has a proven history of substance abuse, a judge will not grant this request.
What else will a judge use to decide on child custody?
More often than not, a New Jersey family judge will grant parents joint custody over a child. This is because they hold the belief that having a relationship with both parents is in the child’s best interest. The only time when a judge will not grant joint custody is if one parent is determined to be “unfit,” due to a history of domestic violence, kidnapping, substance abuse, institutionalization, incarceration, or otherwise.
Other factors that a judge will take into consideration include the following:
- Your and your spouse’s ability to physically, emotionally, and financially care for your child.
- Your and your spouse’s ability to provide a stable home life for your child.
- Your and your spouse’s ability to act in your child’s best interest.
- Your and your spouse’s current relationship with your child.
- Your and your spouse’s willingness to have a relationship with your child.
- Your child’s needs (i.e., special needs, educational needs, etc).
With all this considered, you should not go through your custody battle alone. Instead, you should request the services of a proficient Bergen County family law attorney. We equally have your child’s best interest in mind. Call us today.