Determining the Best Interests of the Child in Fort Lee
Whenever two parents decide to divorce in New Jersey, certain matters will be addressed during the divorce process in ways that explicitly do not prioritize the parents’ interests. Instead, when it comes to establishing custody arrangements and, in some cases, adjustments away from the standard child support formula, courts will always prioritize the “best interests” of the child involved.
Exactly what would or would not best serve a child’s needs can be a highly subjective matter, and parents can do a lot to ensure that their own interests are respected without disrespecting those of their children. If you want to know more about or need help determining the best interests of the child in Fort Lee divorce proceedings, a conversation with a skilled child custody attorney should be a priority.
What Falls Under “Best Interests” in Fort Lee?
When ruling on child custody matters, New Jersey courts always assume that it is best for both parents of a child to be directly involved in their life until they turn 18, unless there is evidence that either parent abused, neglected, or otherwise endangered them in the past. However, that assumption does not guarantee parents an equal share of parenting time and custody rights in every situation.
Instead, courts will gather as much information as they can and take into account every possible factor when deciding with a child’s primary residence, when and how non-custodial visitation might happen, and the extent to which either or both parents would maintain legal custody. Legal custody is defined under New Jersey law as the right and responsibility to make major decisions impacting a child’s welfare, which can be jointly award to both parents, or given to only one parent. While every case is different, factors that often play a role when determining the best interests of a child in Fort Lee include:
- Each parent’s physical and mental fitness to care for the child
- The stability of each potential home environment
- Each parent’s responsibilities at work, as well as their future occupational opportunities
- The parents’ geographical proximity to each other after divorce
- The child’s educational quality, especially if there exist any special needs
- The child’s medical history and potential need for future care
- Each parent’s willingness to cooperate and communicate with the other for the benefit of their child
- Any history of domestic violence, incarceration, or drug/alcohol abuse by either parent
- The child’s preferences, depending on their age
Legal counsel can further explain what factors might play into a particular case and help emphasize certain factors over others.
Prioritizing a Child’s Interests in a Parenting Plan
Parents in New Jersey have the right to mutually form a preferred parenting plan and submit it to the court for approval, and the court will generally approve the plan so long as it clearly not in the child’s best interests. However, if a child’s parents cannot themselves agree on a parenting plan, a lengthier court process may ensue.
In this situation, each parent in Fort Lee may be asked to submit a custody proposal and consent to a court-appointed professional evaluating them and their home. Based on this professional’s reports and the submitted proposal, a judge will determine what arrangement would best serve the child’s interests.
Safeguard Your Child’s Best Interests with a Fort Lee Attorney
Divorce can be hard on children even when parents are cordial and cooperative with each other. Courts in New Jersey do their best to mitigate that by making sure children are put first during all divorce proceedings directly involving them. Determining the best interests of the child in a Fort Lee divorce can be more complex than you might expect.
Support from a seasoned divorce lawyer can be key to getting through this and all other matters involved in the divorce process in a proactive way. Call today for a consultation.