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5 Reasons Why Parents Could Lose Custody in New Jersey Family Court

Although some states are more traditional in the sense that they usually award primary custody to mothers, New Jersey does not prefer either parent when it comes to granting custody. It is important to remember that all courts award custody and parenting time with the best interests of the child in mind. However, courts also take into consideration a variety of other factors that determine the overall fitness of a parent fighting for custody.

If you are involved in a custody battle, it is essential to be aware of the impact that certain factors might have on the court’s determination. An experienced divorce attorney can help you understand the reasons why parents lose custody and work with you to avoid these pitfalls in your case.

Mental & Physical Health

Having issues with mental health does not automatically prevent a parent from having custody. The Court is concerned with the impact that these issues could have on a child. If a parent is found to be mentally unfit, they could lose custody because this inhibits their ability to fully care for their child.

While the Court is mindful of the fact parents often cannot control whether they have physical health issues, the Court remains concerned with the impact physical health issues could have on a parent’s ability to care for a child, especially young children who are yet to gain any meaningful independence.

Every case is different. A child custody attorney can answer more specific questions about how mental and physical health issues may impact custody cases.

Abuse or Neglect

One of the most common reasons for losing custody battles is abuse or neglect of children. If a parent can provide evidence that the other parent abused or neglected a child, the courts will side with putting the care of the child in the hands of the non-abusive parent. The abuse or neglect claims will not only contribute to losing custody, but they might also result in one parent getting less visitation time, supervised visitation, or no visitation at all.

Likewise, a finding of abuse or neglect or other negative finding by the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (formerly known as DYFS) may result losing custody.

Employment & Financial Status

Under New Jersey law, each parent’s employment obligations are taken into consideration during a custody determination because one parent’s restrictive employment may impact their ability to primarily care for the child. To a lesser extent, a parent’s financial status may be taken into consideration if it results in them not being able to meet the needs of the child. The Court would also consider whether the parent sought public assistance to help meet the needs of the child.

Substance Abuse

The Court takes under consideration drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and addiction during a custody case. These issues are weighed heavily, as it could jeopardize the health, safety, and welfare of a child if a parent is actively suffering from substance abuse. Even an allegation of substance abuse can be detrimental to a case. An accused parent will have to work with a custody lawyer to attempt to disprove the false claim or demonstrate they are taking action to correct the issue.

Child’s Decision

If the child is old and mature enough to meaningfully express their opinion, their personal preference as to which parent they would like to primarily live with is also considered by the Court. Because the Court prioritizes the child’s best interests, they may weigh a mature child’s preference heavily in a custody case.

An Experienced Family Law Attorney Can Help You Avoid Losing Custody

Overall, child custody battles in the New Jersey court system can be challenging to go through without an attorney on your side. Fortunately, our dedicated team is here for you. Our custody lawyers have the knowledge and experience to help build your case and provide evidence of your active role in parenting. Schedule a free consultation today to learn more.

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