Understanding a judge's view on the best interests of the child

New Jersey residents may be interested in some information regarding the process courts use when making custody decisions in a divorce case. A judge will often try to decide in the best interests of the child, but understanding this term can be difficult.

When looking at a child custody dispute, a judge will usually focus on making a ruling that is in the child's best interests. This generally means considering the happiness, security, and positive emotional and mental development of the child. A divorce often makes maintaining an equal relationship between the child and both parents difficult, but a judge will try to make decisions that foster these important relationships. In considering all of these factors, a court will seek to maintain the child's overall safety and health.

In making these decisions during a divorce, several specific factors come into play. If a child can express themselves and their wishes, these wishes may be taken into account. Additionally, the child's health and specific needs, along with how each parent can provide for those needs, will be given serious consideration. The parents' relative income and living situations are also important in the child custody decisions. Lastly, the child's stability as far as home and environment go are very important factors in determining the best interests of the child.

In order to understand this thought process and other important issues in a custody dispute, such as who gets decision-making responsibilities and parenting time, an attorney may be able to help. An attorney might be able to walk the parent through the custody and visitation aspects of the divorce process and explain how a judge may react to certain circumstances in the parents' lives.

Source: Findlaw, "Focusing on the "Best Interests" of the Child", December 24, 2014

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