Couples on the verge of divorce have a lot of factors to consider before filing. If you face this decision, you can prepare for the process that lies ahead. 

In New Jersey, the court takes divorce, especially those that involve children, very seriously. The laws state that a judge has the right to decide what is in the best interests of the children when ruling on custody and parenting time. Understanding how a court figures this out may help you compromise with your spouse before it comes to this. 

What is the best interest of the child?  

The “best interest of the child” is a legal standard a judge follows to ensure that the court does everything it can to keep children in a proper environment. The judge determines what is best by fleshing out the parenting patterns through evidence, presentations and court documents. 

What are some of the ways a judge decides custody?  

A judge reviews the evidence presented by both sides and that gathered by court-mandated activities such as counseling or child interviews. The factors that go into making the decision include the following: 

  • Consistency – One parent may appear better at ensuring there is a measure of consistency in schedules, routines and the like. Changing a routine, especially for smaller children, may have negative consequences. 
  • Parenting ability – One parent may have quit a job to stay home and care for the children while the other spent long hours away. A divorce is not the time for the more absent parent to decide to become the more present one. Thus, the judge may side with the parent who has put in more hours with the children. 
  • Safety – If one environment is safer than the other, the court may rule that a majority of time goes to that place. A parent who is also under scrutiny for abuse may not get custody or parenting time without going through a court-mandated program. 

When contemplating child custody, understand that unless your former spouse has a violent history, there is a good chance you may wind up splitting time. Preparing for this in advance will help you accept it.