When New Jersey parents decide to end their marriages, their greatest concern is often how it will affect their children. Child custody issues can be complex and frustrating, and parents undoubtedly have questions. Friends, other family members and Hollywood movies can only give their opinions and impressions of how it really works. In order to feel comfortable and come to an agreement that works best for a family, some basic questions need to be answered first.
The children will live with the parent who is given primary physical “custody” of them after the divorce. The other parent is granted a certain amount of “contact,” or visitation, with the children. Some New Jersey parents might be under the impression that the court makes these decisions, but in reality, the parents have the power (and are encouraged) to negotiate an agreement on their own. If needed, a mediator can help facilitate the process, but final decisions typically reside with the parents.
The court is bound to stay within certain parameters when making custody determinations, so it would be better for everyone involved if the parents create their own agreement. Judges consider what is in the best interests of the children. However, they do not truly know the family, so there is no way to be sure that the decision is ultimately the correct one.
Many parents are told that their children get to choose who they live with in child custody matters, but that it not quite how it works. A judge might consider their preferences, but he or she is not bound by the child’s opinion. This writing only touches the surface of what child custody entails. More information should be sought from a family law attorney who routinely deals with these issues in order to be sure that parents are given all of the information they need to make choices that will affect the lives of everyone in the family.
Source: parentherald.com, “What You Need To Know About Child Custody In A Divorce“, Dec. 14, 2016