Parents divorcing in New Jersey must come up with a custody arrangement that serves the child’s best interests while preserving each parent’s right to parenting time. Generally, the court considers the parent of primary residence as the parent who has more than 50% of overnights with the children each year.
Review the child custody process and guidelines in New Jersey when facing a divorce with children.
The child custody process
New Jersey encourages parents to agree on a fair custody schedule. When they cannot do so, they can request a court hearing for the judge to decide this issue. The court can also order mediation when parents cannot come to a custody agreement independently.
Generally, the state prefers to allow children regular contact with both parents whenever possible, unless either parent has a history of domestic violence, abuse or neglect.
Factors in child custody determinations
Like many states, New Jersey primarily considers the best interests of the child when deciding custody. The judge may consider the stability of each parent’s home environment, the child’s current relationship with parents and siblings, the number and age of children, the distance between the parents’ residences, each parent’s willingness to support the child’s education, each parent’s fitness to raise a child, each parent’s job situation, and the child’s preference if he or she is at least 12.
The court may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the child’s interest in contentious custody cases. This attorney acts on behalf of the child and conducts an investigation before making a custody recommendation to the court.