A Child’s Best Interests in New Jersey Divorce Decisions

The Factors the Court Considers

A Child’s Best Interests in New Jersey Divorce DecisionsWhen you file for divorce in New Jersey, and there are minor children living at home, issues of custody, visitation, and support must be resolved, by either agreement of the parties or intervention of the court. As a general rule, when deciding issues that affect minor children, the court employs the standard of “the best interests of the children.” What does that mean? What factors will the court consider when attempting to discern the best interests of the child?

The Best Interests of the Child

In New Jersey, it has long been assumed by the courts that the “best interests” of the child are served by having both parents actively involved in the lives of their children. Exceptions exist where there is evidence of abuse or neglect on the part of one parent, or indication that one parent has carelessly or intentionally put the child in harm’s way.

No single solution meets the best interests of every child. The best course of action is determined on a case-by-case basis, using the following criteria:

  • The prior relationship and interaction between the child and each parent
  • The willingness of the parents to work cooperatively to promote the best interests of the child
  • The ability of the parents to communicate and reach agreement on issues involving the child
  • The safety of the child when spending time with each parent
  • Any history of domestic violence or abuse by either parent
  • The needs of the child
  • The stability of each parent’s home environment
  • The fitness of each parent to care for minor children
  • Each parent’s commitment to the quality and continuity of the child’s education
  • The job responsibilities of each parent
  • The geographic proximity of each parent’s home to the child’s school, friends, and normal daily life
  • The age and number of children involved
  • The preferences of the child, if the child is at least 12 years of age

Contact Attorney David M. Lipshutz

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