The Best Interests of the Child Standard in New Jersey

The Factors the Court Considers When Determining Custody and Visitation

The Best Interests of the Child Standard in New JerseyIn a New Jersey divorce proceeding where there are minor children, the parties can work out custody and visitation arrangements without the intervention of the court. If the parties cannot come to an agreement, the court will typically order the parties to participate in mediation, unless there are allegations or evidence of domestic violence. In either instance, however, the court will ultimately look for a solution that is “in the best interests of the child.”

What Will The Court Evaluate to Determine the “Best Interests of the Child”?

The court will typically look at a wide range of issues to ascertain whether a proposed custody and/or visitation arrangement is in the best interests of the child:

  • The safety of the child, as well as the safety of either parent from domestic violence or abuse by the other parent
  • Any history of domestic violence or abuse by either parent
  • The extent to which each parent has demonstrated an ability to work cooperatively with the other parent in matters pertaining to the child and the child’s welfare
  • The amount of interaction each parent had with the child during the marriage
  • The extent to which each parent has indicated a willingness to take custody of the minor child and to grant the non-custodial parent permitted visitation
  • The child’s needs and the extent to which custody with one parent will better serve those needs
  • The stability of the respective parental homes
  • The geographic proximity of the respective parental homes
  • The child’s preferences, provided the child is old enough to make a sound decision
  • The age and number of children of the marriage
  • The relationship of the children with each other

Contact the Law Office of David M. Lipshutz

We will only take your case if we know we can help. For an appointment, contact our office online or call us at 856-627-1990. We are available to meet with you Monday through Friday, between 9 am and 5 pm.

New Jersey Child Custody Disputes—An Introduction

The Basic Things You Need to Know

New Jersey Child Custody DisputesIf you are considering filing for or are in the middle of a divorce, and you have minor children in the marital home, one of your first concerns will be custody. How does the court determine custody? What are the different types of custody? What factors are involved in a custody ruling?

The Different Types of Custody in New Jersey

As you work to come to an agreement regarding custody and visitation, you’ll hear a number of different terms discussed:

  • Physical custody—This refers to where the children actually reside. Traditionally, minor children of divorce spent most of their time in the home of one parent and had visitation with the other parent. That usually meant every other weekend with the “non-custodial” parent, as well as alternating holidays, some time in the summer and perhaps a night a week. In recent years, though, the trend has been toward greater shared physical custody, with the children spending more equal time in the home of each parent.
  • Legal custody—This involves decisions about the child’s well-being, including educational, health, religious and extra-curricular activities.
  • Joint custody—The court may give both parents equal custody rights
  • Sole custody—The court may grant custody exclusively to one parent

What Factors Go Into a Custody Determination?

In New Jersey, as in most states, the primary factor governing the determination of custody rights is the “best interests of the child.” New Jersey courts typically look at four different issues:

  • The impact of a custody ruling on the child’s physical well-being and safety
  • How the custody determination will affect the child’s emotional health and well-being
  • The respective parenting skills, as well as the parties’ ability and willingness to engage in co-parenting
  • Any practical concerns

Contact the Law Office of David M. Lipshutz

We will only take your case if we know we can help. For an appointment, contact our office online or call us at 856-627-1990. We are available to meet with you Monday through Friday, between 9 am and 5 pm.

Child Custody in New Jersey

The Test to Determine Whether a Custodial Parent Can Relocate Out-of-State

Child Custody in New JerseyIn divorce proceedings where there are minor children involved, custody and visitation are important and often complicated issues. New Jersey courts have long recognized the value of having both parents involved in the upbringing of their child. Accordingly, until the turn of the 21st century, a custodial parent who wanted to relocate to another state faced an uphill struggle.

In 2001, state courts relaxed the standards dramatically, citing advances in technology that make it easier for parents and children to communicate at a distance, as well as trends in other states allowing more out-of-state relocations. Child psychologists argued that happier parents make happier children and suggested that the best interests of the children are better served when some of the critical needs of parents are met as well. The New Jersey Supreme Court took all those factors into consideration and issued a new standard for parents who wanted to relocate to another state: they needed only to show a “good faith reason for asking to move out of state” and demonstrate that the move would “not be inimical to the children’s interests.” The court further stated that the potential impact on the noncustodial parent’s visitation, was not, in and of itself, sufficient reason to deny a request to move out of state.

That standard remained in force until 2017, when the New Jersey Supreme Court revisited the matter. The court observed that the trend that had begun around the turn of the century had not expanded since—no additional states were expanding the rights of custodial parents to relocate out-of-state. Furthermore, additional social science studies brought into question the impact of such relocations on children. Accordingly, the New Jersey Supreme Court rejected the “good faith/inimical” test in favor of one that focuses on the “best interests of the child.” In essence, the analysis has shifted from a consideration of the rights of the custodial parent to an examination of the best interests of the child.

Contact an Experienced New Jersey Family Law Attorney

At the law office of David M. Lipshutz, we won’t take your case unless we know we can help. For a private meeting, contact our office online or call us at 856-627-1990. We are available to meet with you Monday through Friday, 9:00 A.M. – 5:00 P.M.