Because the focus of any custody order is the best interests of the children involved, and because what is in the best interests of a child can change, it makes sense that New Jersey courts should consider a number of factors before deciding upon have the option of reviewing a custody and parenting time arrangement in a divorce or paternity case.
Many of these factors are a matter of common sense. For instance, the court will ask whether and to what extent the parents are able to get along, how the children relate to each parent and whether the parents have shown a real interest in having custody or extensive parenting time.
Courts may also practical questions when making their decision, such as where each parent lives and how the parent is going to provide for the child when the child is living with that parent. Of course, the child’s current physical and emotional needs and, in many cases, the child’s desires are also important considerations.
New Jersey courts have considerable discretion when awarding custody. They can, for instance, literally split time and decision-making authority between a child’s parents.
At the other extreme, they could award sole custody to one parent and give the other parent very limited parenting time. It all depends on how a court evaluates the factors listed under New Jersey law.
Because so much is riding on how a court will evaluate child custody and because these factors can be highly subjective, it is generally a good idea for a parent who is going in to a contested custody or parenting time proceeding to have the help of an experienced New Jersey family law attorney.