Divorce is never an easy situation. Even in the most amicable relationships, emotions run high and decisions can become complicated. No area of decision making is more emotional than finalizing child custody arrangements. Divorcing parents are most successful in this stage of a divorce when they put the needs of their child first. Couples who cannot agree on child custody arrangements will need the help of the court, and in New Jersey, the court bases its decisions on the best interests of the child.
Judges will consider several factors when deciding what the best parenting plan is for children of divorcing couples. While New Jersey has specific guidelines pertaining to child custody, there is a lot of room for interpretation of these guidelines. An experienced and knowledgeable Monmouth County child custody lawyer is imperative to ensure your rights are protected and that the best interests of your child remain the top priority throughout negotiations.
One of the top priorities in a parenting plan involves determining where a child’s primary residence will be, and the amount of authority each parent will have in making decisions for the child’s welfare. Parents who have a history of domestic violence, child abuse, drug or alcohol addiction, or who have not been present in the child’s life prior to the divorce proceedings will face a difficult struggle if they are requesting joint or sole custody.
In a joint legal custody arrangement, one parent becomes the primary residence for the child while the Mother’s rights and the Father’s rights are equally assessed. Both should have equal rights in the decision making process concerning their child’s educational, emotional, social, and medical issues. In the case wherein one parent is found to be unfit to share joint legal custody, the other parent is awarded sole legal custody of the child. In this arrangement, one parent is awarded primary custody and all rights to the decision making concerns of the child. Shared joint legal custody awards both parents equal time for the child to reside with them, and each parent shares in the decision making process.
Once a child’s custody is decided, another difficult phase in establishing a parental agreement begins. Visitation and scheduling of vacations, holidays, birthdays, and school activities can create hostility between divorcing parents when personal agendas overrule what is best for the child. A New Jersey child custody lawyer can mediate arrangements with parents who are unable to come up with a fair plan, but if that fails, it will be up to the court to decide these concerns.
When establishing parenting time in New Jersey, a judge will take into consideration what the child’s school schedule is, which parent is most suited to handle the structure necessary for the child’s success, what each parent’s work schedule is, what types of child care arrangements are made, and any health or emotional issues that can complicate a child moving between parents. It is always the goal of the Court to come up with a plan that has both parents spending time and investing in their relationship with their child, however the child’s needs must come first.
Child support payments are determined by a review of each parent’s earning potential, income, job stability, and ability to pay for the needs of the child. Couples who can work out this arrangement by themselves benefit immediately, but when couples cannot come to a fair agreement, a child custody lawyer can intervene, or the case can be taken to Court. A New Jersey family law judge will look for ways to provide the child with a similar lifestyle in both parent’s homes so that a positive relationship with both parents can be established.
As children grow, so too do their needs, and often times, changes in parental agreements have to be made to accommodate these changes. When children come to an age of maturity where they can voice their concerns or wishes, a New Jersey divorce judge will often listen and carefully consider what the child has to say. If one parent loses a job, changes in the child support arrangements will need to be put in place. In some cases, one parent may have to relocate for a job or family matter, which will necessitate a modified child custody agreement. Again, a child custody lawyer in New Jersey or New Jersey divorce court will consider the best interest of the child in any modifications that are made.
If you or someone you know is considering a divorce involving child custody arrangements, you need a skilled and experienced New Jersey child custody lawyer at your side. Divorce laws can be overwhelming when you are dealing with an emotional separation and the dissolution of your marriage. Monmouth County divorce lawyers at Fox & Melofchik, L.L.C can ensure that your rights are protected, and help you create a parenting plan that is in the best interests of your child. Call Fox & Melofchik at 732-493-9400, or complete our online contact form to schedule a consultation today.
Our offices are conveniently located in Ocean Township, New Jersey allowing us to serve clients in Monmouth County, Middlesex County, Ocean County, and Mercer County as well as the towns of Colts Neck, Marlboro, Rumson, Little Silver, Monmouth Beach, Manalapan, Deal, Holmdel, Spring Lake, and Ocean Grove.