Surprising Factors that Affect New Jersey Custody and Parenting Time
New Jersey custody and parenting time issues can be among the most contentious and even confusing during the course of a divorce case. In addition, custody and parenting time can persist as prime issues even after a marriage dissolution order has been issued in a particular case. There are some surprising factors that affect New Jersey custody and parenting.New Jersey Best Interests of a Child Standard
When it comes to decisions related to child custody and parenting time, New Jersey law utilizes what is known as the best interests of a child standard. Pursuant to the best interests of a child standard, determinations regarding custody and parenting time focuses on the specific facts and circumstances of a given case. The court considers a variety of factors to reach a decision deemed to be in a child’s best interests. These factors include:
- Consideration of which parent historically has been the primary child caretaker
- Physical, emotional, and mental health of the parents
- Living or residential status of the parents
- Preference of a child (depending on that child’s age and maturity level)
- Consideration of which parent is more likely to encourage a relationship between the child and the other parent
A variety of residence-related issues can have what prove to be surprising effects on child custody and parenting time for some people. Of course, if the residences of the parents are not nearby to one another – are in different states, for example – that alone can have a significant impact on decisions associated with custody and parenting time.
Other types of residence issues can also affect custody and parenting time in ways that might not immediately have been recognized. These might include who else might be in a particular residence when parenting time is to be occurring.Relationship Issues
On a somewhat related note, relationship considerations can also impact custody or parenting time. For example, a noncustodial parent may enter into a new primary or intimate relationship and not immediately recognize the introduction of that person into his or her life can directly impact an existing parenting time agreement or order.Impact of Work Schedule
A parent’s work schedule can impact custody and visitation. A more minimal alteration of a work schedule can have unexpected ramifications when it comes to such things as parenting time and even custody.Child’s Extracurricular Activities
Many parents who seek a divorce end up considering matters like a child’s extracurricular activities as being something of an afterthought when it comes to issues surrounding child custody and parenting time. These same divorcing parents end up surprised to learn that a court will seriously consider a child’s access to extracurricular and related activities when applying the best interests of a child standard discussed a moment ago. The reality is that various types of extracurricular activities bestow important benefits on a minor child. They will not be discounted in the determination of child custody and parenting time.Preference of a Child
There are instances in which the preference of the child can impact New Jersey custody and parenting time. There actually exist two generalized misconceptions about the preference of a child in a New Jersey divorce case. A person seeking a divorce be surprised to find that one or another of these ideas simply are not legally accurate.
- First, divorcing couples sometimes are surprised to learn that the thoughts of a minor child will be considered in regard to New Jersey custody and parenting time in some instances. Specifically, if a child is of a certain age and maturity level, a court is able to consider a child’s thoughts in regard to custody and parenting time.
- Second, another fairly prevalent misconception is if a child is of a certain maturity level and has an opinion in regard to custody and visitation, the position of that minor is not absolute according to New Jersey family law. Rather, it will become only one of a number of considerations of the court in making a decision in regard to custody and parenting.
If you have questions about custody, parenting time, or any other divorce-related issue, contact the Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen. You can reach our firm at (201) 845-7400.