Like most other New Jersey parents going through a divorce, you may have attempted to mediate your child custody issues, but it didn’t go as planned. For some reason, you just couldn’t reach an agreement on all or a few issues.
Now, you face going to court in order to obtain the court’s assistance in reaching a child custody order. What will the court want to know about you as it attempts to determine what constitutes the best interests of your child?
Do you know what the “better parent” standard is?
Even when seeking a joint custody arrangement, one parent will inevitably have at least some more time with the children than the other. One of you will need to serve as the primary custodial parent for many reasons, particularly for where the children will attend school. In order for the court to make a decision regarding which parent will fulfill this role, you will need to show the court that you are the better parent.
This does not necessarily mean that you do not think your future former spouse is not a good parent, just that you would be the better one to serve in the primary custodial role. Your job may be a challenge, especially if both of you have been loving, supportive and involved parents up to this point. Discerning what type of evidence will sway the court will most likely require some assistance from a family law attorney who routinely represents parents in your position.
So, what does the court look for?
The courts generally look for the parent who best fulfills the children’s physical and psychological needs better. For instance, which parent handles doctor’s appointments, daily schedule issues and similar parental duties? When it comes to the child’s psychological needs, the court will want to make sure that the primary custodial parent provides liberal access to the other parent in order to foster and grow those parent/child relationships.
One thing courts definitely do not want to see if one parent speaking ill of the other. It would be advisable to focus more on your good points rather than trying to point out any bad points of your ex-spouse.
Communication is vital when you are co-parenting, and the court will probably want to see that you are willing to work and communicate with the other parent for the good of your child or children. Making this and other points to the court may go better with the help of a compassionate and competent attorney.