When parents decide to end their marriage or relationship, one of the most difficult and challenging decisions can be working together on a co-parenting plan for their children.
Couples frequently disagree over which parent will be the primary custodian, how much time both parents will spend with their kids, and the amount of child support the non-custodian parent will pay.
Finding a custody plan that focuses on the child
Joint custody was once rarely granted in the Peace Garden State. However, family courts typically make custody decisions today on the assumption that having a relationship with both parents is in the best interests of the child.
Courts must determine whether the child's well-being is best served by making one parent the primary custodian, or whether parents will share their duties equally and award joint custody.
How do courts decide physical custody?
There are many factors courts take into consideration when deciding where the child's primary home will be, and the factors receive equal weight unless domestic violence or drug abuse is involved. Typical considerations include:
- Who takes the child to school?
- Who dresses the child?
- Who fixes the family meals?
- Who helps the child with homework?
- Who potty trains the child?
- Who is the disciplinarian?
- Who takes the child to church?
Ruling in the best interests of children
The court considers all these factors with the goal of minimizing the disruption to a child's life by awarding custody to the parent who takes care of the majority of their daily needs. They also work to award adequate visitation rights to the non-custodian parent.
Parents who can't agree on a custody plan should be prepared to answer tough questions over their current parenting role when they go to court. If you believe your rights are threatened, an experienced and compassionate family law attorney will aggressively fight for a favorable outcome.