As a father, going through a divorce means establishing the legal right to spend time with your children and continue playing an active role in their development. While New Jersey law does not favor the mother in child custody proceedings (contrary to popular belief), the reality is that mother still often have a leg up in custody proceedings involving minor children.
With this in mind, fathers must focus on demonstrating that New Jersey law favors their desired custody rights. This starts with understanding the “best interests” factors listed in Section 9:2-4 of the New Jersey Revised Statutes.
New Jersey Child Custody Determinations Focus on Serving the “Best Interests” of the Children Involved
In New Jersey, child custody determinations must be made based on the “best interests” of the children involved. Public policy favors ensuring “frequent and continuing contact with both parents” after a divorce, and it encourages both parents “to share the rights and responsibilities of child rearing.”
In order to achieve these goals, divorcing parents must develop a parenting plan that addresses all of the factors listed in Section 9:2-4. These factors include:
- “[T]he parents’ ability to agree, communicate and cooperate in matters relating to the child.”
- “[T]he parents’ willingness to accept custody and any history of unwillingness to allow parenting time not based on substantiated abuse.”
- “[T]he interaction and relationship of the child with its parents and siblings.”
- “[T]he history of domestic violence, if any.”
- “[T]he safety of the child and the safety of either parent from physical abuse by the other parent.”
- “[T]he preference of the child when of sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent decision.”
- “[T]he needs of the child.”
- “[T]he stability of the home environment offered.”
- “[T]he quality and continuity of the child’s education.”
- “[T]he fitness of the parents.”
- “[T]he geographical proximity of the parents’ homes.”
- “[T]he extent and quality of the time spent with the child prior to or subsequent to the separation.”
- “[T]he parents’ employment responsibilities.”
- “[T]he age(s) and number of the children.”
As you can see, some of these factors are more concrete than others, and some will weigh more heavily in certain specific situations. That said, when going through a divorce involving children, none of these factors should go overlooked, as each individual factor will ultimately weigh in favor of one parent’s preferred custody plan or the other’s desired post-divorce parenting rights.
Of course, the ideal scenario is that both parents are on the same page regarding what is best for their children. If you and your wife happen to be in agreement regarding custody and visitation (or “parenting time”), then there is no need to address the above factors.
That said, before you assume that everything will work out fine, it is important to be aware of the issues that many divorcing couples overlook. Doing so often leads to contentious (and costly) disputes down the line.
From pick-up and drop-off schedules to curfews and screen time, there are a variety of types of seemingly “minor” issues that can create problems for divorced parents. When deciding what is in your children’s “best interests” during your divorce, you need to make sure you thoroughly address all issues so that you do not unintentionally put your child at the center of disagreements between you and your former spouse in the future.
Speak with a Divorce and Child Custody Attorney in Hackensack, NJ
If you are a father who is preparing to go through a divorce in New Jersey, it is important that you speak with an attorney about how to prove that your desired custody rights will serve the “best interests” of your children. To schedule an appointment at MR. Men’s Rights Divorce & Family Law™ of New Jersey, please call (201) 654-4263 or contact us online today.