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Preparing for a custody battle

New Jersey parents involved in a custody battle obviously want a favorable outcome from litigation, and several factors are considered when determining child custody. Parents must understand what courts are looking for to meet a judge's standards.

Judges assess which parent is 'better" using the state's guidelines for child custody, so parents should familiarize themselves with what the court considers acceptable and proper. When going to court, a parent should bring all the necessary documentation that a judge needs to see and must be able to comply with court etiquette. This includes looking presentable, being polite and respecting court rules.

Courts decide custody matters according to what is in a child's best interests, so parents must demonstrate that they can do what is best for a child or children instead of acting in their own interests. Unless one parent is unfit, courts usually want a child to have a relationship with both parents. This means a parent who wants custody must attempt to get along with the other parent and cannot stand in the way of a relationship between the other parent and the children.

While wanting to 'win" sole custody is understandable when a divorce occurs, one must consider whether full custody is right for the children. Courts tend to award joint custody if both parents are fit, so forming a custody arrangement without court intervention might be the best solution when possible.

Forming a parenting plan outside of court could be right not only for the children but for parents as well as this often saves time and money when compared to litigation. If parents have a few issues they cannot solve, mediation or negotiation may be helpful. When finalizing an agreement, it is important to still file paperwork with a court so that the arrangement is legally enforceable.

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