The Issues of Custody Disputes in NJ
- December 4, 2013
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The divorce process in New Jersey can cause many difficult issues to arise and child custody disputes are one of the most common issues, therefore it is very important for parties to know what a court considers when determining child custody. N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23 governs the issues regarding custody disputes. According to the statute, a Family Court judge is authorized to “make such order . . . as to the care, custody, education and maintenance of the children or any of them, as the circumstances of the case shall render fit, reasonable and just.” A judge has very wide discretion to use this statute when making custody determinations. The public policy behind the broad language of the law is to ensure that judges have the legal ability to tailor their orders to fit each individual situation to maximize the contact that children have with both of their parents if possible. In Beck v. Beck, 86 N.J. 480, 485 (1984), the New Jersey Supreme Court held that there is a “legislative preference for custody decrees that allow both parents full and genuine involvement in the lives of their children following a divorce . . . in promoting the child’s welfare, the court should strain every effort to attain for the child the affection of both parents rather than one.” Currently, when making child custody determinations a New Jersey court is guided by the overarching best interest of the child standard according to N.J.S.A. 9:2-4. Pursuant to this statute, a judge will consider a list of factors that he or she will apply to the facts of each case before issuing a custody order. Another aspect of a custody determination is the kind of custody that is awarded. The New Jersey statute that governs custody permits the Family Court to award a parent or parents with 1) joint custody of a child in which both parents have legal and physical custody of the child, 2) sole custody to one parent with parenting time to the other; or 3) another custody arrangement that the court arrives at to satisfy the best interests of the child. If you are involved in a child custody dispute, or have children and are considering divorce, it is critical that you consult with an experienced custody attorney before moving forward. For more information about child custody, divorce, parenting time, or other family law matters in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com and NJCivilUnionLaw.com. This blog is for informational purposes and in no way intended to replace the advice of an attorney.