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

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